She was young; the youngest in her family but the eldest psychologically. She knew what to do even before she was old enough to understand what they meant. Clara was the perfect example of the smart child; she could send you a thousand messages without even parting her lips. At the age of three, she pronounced words too advanced for her age almost perfectly. Her diction promised to be just fine and female etiquette? She was her own queen! She liked to comb her hair and cross her legs while watching TV shows she didn’t understand. One could watch her display her drama all day and not get bored.
At 15, Clara was the head prefect at school and lead singer of the teenage church choir. Singing her heart out at the slightest opportunity she had. She won laurels and trophies of all sorts in school too. Sports? Physics? Biology? You name it! Clara was that child that made any mother smack her own child and go –
“How many heads does she have?”
Despite the attention drawn to her for her excellence, Clara mixed very well with her friends at school. She made sure no one felt any less about their selves for any reason – Clara handled everything fine. And in the middle of it all, who was I? I was that very proud family friend that knew Clara would have the right influence on my children. I could sit in Mama Clara’s kitchen and gossip for hours knowing my kids were safe. In fact, my only worry was what would become of my children when Clara finally gained admission into the university!
Having watched her grow, I could tell she was leaning towards science. I suspected being a medical doctor but I couldn’t tell what field she would specialize in. It was no shock at all when Mama Clara said her daughter wanted to be a physiotherapist.
“Ah! That’s a big one!” I had exclaimed.
“Oh yes my sister!” Her mother had added. “She’ll be studying at Harvard.” She boasted.
Not too long after hearing of Clara’s good news, life happened. I got busy with work and had to move out of the country. Being a single mother had never been so difficult! It was much more draining having to do it with two teenage boys and a young woman who had started scaring me with stories of a certain boyfriend! The horror!
Little by little we lost touch with everyone back home. It felt like our moving out of the country put our memories on some sort of factory reset. Nobody cared anymore and it came as no surprise when 7 years after leaving the country, Clara died and I couldn’t call to extend my condolences.
It wasn’t that I couldn’t call but I just couldn’t gather the guts to call after so long. My daughter had seen the messages on “Facebook” and told me of the heartbreaking loss. According to her, Clara had slipped and hit her head in the bathroom. Nobody got to her in time.
It’s been 10 years since I heard of Clara’s death and I still shiver. The guilt lingers at the back of my throat whenever I remember and I wonder if keeping in touch would have changed anything. Is abandoning Mama Clara to the misery of this loss the best thing to do? I still wonder…