I opened the door slowly and tiptoed in. Pearl was giving away a light snore. Crouching on the floor with a powerful camping flash light switched on was Michael, reading the ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid. The Long Haul’. He was so engrossed in the reading that he didn’t hear the door creep open, neither did he hear my breathing as I stood still, watching him.
I tapped him on the shoulder. He jumped.
“Michael go to bed now, we have a long journey later in the day.”
“I know, I just want to finish this chapter before I go to sleep.”
Can I kill such an enthusiasm?
On the 25th of December, Michael serenaded us with his skills on the recorder as he rendered ‘My true love said to me’.
He was quite a big strong lad for his age of eight. He looked like a wrestler at first glance, but an interaction with him revealed a gentility that would not hurt a fly.
Anytime he came to spend holidays with us, I loved it because I knew he would be the right kind of influence for my son.
We rode the toboggan together, cycled together and played footie together. We had great fun together.
Michael was a very spiritual young man. He loved God with all of his heart and would do anything to please Him.
I remember one evening with him. I was going for my evening walk and he asked “Uncle can I come with you?”
I paused for a moment and then replied “sure.”
He was a little puzzled by my hesitation.
He jumped into his pair of trainers and came along with me.
“Uncle, why is it that the world is getting worse?”
“What do you mean Michael?”
“Well, anytime you listen to the news, it’s always something bad happening somewhere. Either a plane has crashed, or some disaster, or shooting?”
“You know buddy, you are correct. But I am not too sure why these evils. Maybe because people have forsaken God. They don’t have the fear of God anymore and they now do bad stuff.”
“Really. How can these things be stopped?”
“I don’t know Michael to be honest with you.”
“Do you think, it’s going to get better by any chance?”
“I don’t think so buddy.”
“ You know I watched one time on the internet how people went into a big forest to cut down so many trees and how the animals who used to rely on these trees for habitat were made to be homeless and killed indirectly. My teacher also told us that these trees breathe out oxygen for us to breathe in. So if they keep cutting down these trees, that means we will not have enough oxygen to breathe in.”
“Michael, you are very smart. What you have said is true.”
“Again Michael I am sorry to disappoint you with my answer, that’s the way man is.”
“Really? So, man is uncaring?”
“So, it appears. Otherwise what else would make man to act so wickedly?”
“Uncle what can be done to ameliorate the situation?”
“Michael I do not know. By the way, where did you learn that word ‘ameliorate’ from? All the laws have been put in place. Countries have signed up to these laws to agree to end these evil practices, yet it still rages on.”
“I learnt the word from a conservation website.”
We went on and on for about thirty two minutes.
By this time, we had completed one circuit of 3.5km. I wished we could go for another round but I needed a break to give further consideration to my discourse with Michael.
My son Mekobong, loved Michael a great deal. They played together, ate together and slept together. They delighted in throwing banters about how much they knew and could reason. By the time the holiday was over, it was very sad to see Michael go.
All the nice memories we had, kept us going. Every now and again, I would bring out the photos of the last holidays and we would reminisce over it.
As the next holiday season drew nearer, I was on the circuit with my son for a walk when the much dreaded question arrived.
“Dad, Is Michael coming over this coming holiday?”
Tears rolled down my eyes. I tried to hide the tears from him. It was nighttime.
The whole drama re-enacted before me when I first learnt of the news. I couldn’t take it. The disbelief and the wishes I had on my mind. For once I wished it was a bad dream that I would wake up from. Far from it, it was real. I had come to terms with it. I thought about Mekobong and how I would pass this news to him.
“Dad, you have not answered my question.”
I put my hand over his shoulders and said “son, we are not going to see Michael again. He has gone home to be with the Lord.”
“You mean he is dead?