My father started coughing on Sunday. He was an asthmatic patient. Having returned from Belgium three days prior, we rushed him to the nearest hospital, a private hospital. They tried their best but asked us to send him to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital as his situation was critical. I had heard about the Corona Virus but never thought my father could have it. The grace of God after all protects his children. Didn’t the Bible say, a thousand may fall on my right and ten thousand on my left but no harm will befall me? The promise of the lord was my strength. When we reached the teaching hospital, nurses who had covered themselves in Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) wheeled him off on a stretcher. He had become unresponsive, scaring me. After a while, I was told he had joined the heavenly choir. That sentence sounded great when told others but for the first time, I got to know how silly it was. My father had no voice to impress even Satan, which heavenly choir will make that mistake to admit him? An idiom it is but a cruel one if the import hits you. That was not all, I was to be tested together with my family as he was suspected to have died from Corona Virus.
I stood there stupefied, fighting back tears unsuccessfully. The reality hit me. If he died from Corona Virus, does it mean I will also die? What of my mother? What of my brothers and sisters who visited and touched him? What of my wife and children? What of my friends, their friends and their friends’ friends? Panic added onto grief and no relief seemed to be in sight. I sat in the hospital’s Caravan with humans hidden behind PPEs and was sent home. All my family members had their samples taken. I directed them to my mother’s house and that of my sisters’. The contact tracing started from there. We were asked to self quarantine until the results were out. My father had died and I didn’t have time to mourn. The biggest sorrow was in the fear of possibly losing all family members. I took my phone and started Googling. I realized it was not a death sentence but people with underlying medical problems might face fatalities. I am hypertensive, my wife is diabetic, two of my sisters were also asthmatic like my father. I went into my study and cried.
Three days was a long wait. But my father’s test came out positive, mine came out negative, none of my sisters had it but my mother tested positive. My father was 71 years old, my mother was 65 with no medical complications. So she was taken to the hospital for proper Healthcare. We were still asked to self quarantine, as our samples would be taken again to be sure. The nurses and doctors who took care of him at the private hospital tested positive. It was confusing. After two weeks, we were declared Corona free and my mother was responding to treatment. One of the doctors who tested positive had died. We were told he was a sickle cell patient with many health complications. I felt sorry and somehow blamed myself but we needed to bury my father, so I tried to stay strong. As the first born and only son of the family, I had to go check the state of his remains and then meet the family for possible dates for a small funeral. My shock when I was told my father had already been buried! How can a man who lived so well be buried like an unwanted chicken?
I didn’t know what to say. What was I to tell the elders of my family? How could I bring myself to utter those words? A Kwahu’s corpse is worthier to him than his living, the reason they prefer Easter to Christmas. There was no way I could tell my family that we could not get the body of my father. So I called the strongest one among us, Cynthia, the second one after me. She was a communication expert and a good human resource person. She said she knew that would happen and prepared to educate the family during our first gathering. Even her skills could do nothing to convince the elders.
Where have you heard of this before? A funeral without a corpse? Maame Gyantia stop the nonsense and tell the doctors to give us our corpse. Abusuapanyin Obeng angrily said.
Paapa, my name is Cynthia – Abusuapanyin cut her short.
Gyantia or Gyantia are all the same since you don’t want to be called Gyamfua. Corona hwan hwan is white man’s sickness. Why do they want to use that to disgrace our dehyiɛ? Put a group together and let’s go and fight for our corpse. If the worst comes to the worst, Kwame Agyei, his namesake is a lawyer, or? Herr Kwabena Boadu Agyei! You’re his only son, why are you sitting down like a broken woman? You see my problem with you? You’ve always been timid. Abusuapanyin Obeng bellowed, his anger over the roof.
I sat there as Cynthia tried to smile and explain but all fell on deaf ears. I decided not to follow them to demand for the corpse by feigning sickness. Cynthia said it was a mess. Abusuapanyin piled vituperations on management. Eventually, they were forced out of the hospital premises by their security men. And since then, the matter has planted a seed of discordance among members of my family. My father’s funeral has not been performed. And funerals, to Africans, is the last rite to pass through before becoming an ancestor. Children who do not give their parents befitting burials invite curses into their lives. So I live in fear and anxiety. A dark sky has been hanging on us and it is scary.
Amoafowaa Sefa Cecilia © April 21, 2020. Photo Credit: Google Pics