After the meal, Adakole offered her the bowl of water from which she took a generous gulp and let out a healthy belch. Adakole thought he noticed a little smile on Mama’s lips while she wiped them with the back of her hand and returned the bowl of water. Mama seized the moment during which Adakole bent to collect the bowls and placed a hand on his shoulder. He stood still.
“Thank you so much, Adakole. I pray that God’s mercy and goodness will never depart from you in your entire life. I pray in the blessed, matchless mighty name of our Lord and savior, Christ Jesus.”
“Amen, in Jesus name.” Adakole said.
He laid her back to bed and retired to his own room, just adjacent to his mother's. These days, he slept in two phases. The first, when he hit the bed and lapsed almost immediately into a deep sleep. It was surprising how that within a minute of getting into bed, his thick, throaty snores would fill the house. But then wasn't it understandable especially after such a long, hard day that Adakole now had?
This first phase of sleep usually lasted for about an hour, then he would rouse and henceforth, till the break of the dawn, the rest was just a shallow state of unconsciousness. The slightest disturbance would rattle him. It was a sleep infiltrated by anxiety. These were the hours when he listened mindfully for the “normal” faint calls of his mother from the other room.
But tonight was different, not because the sleep did not come in two phases but because there were no calls from the other room.
Adakole was worried until the point when he could bear it no longer and he had pushed his cover cloth aside and got out of bed. He slowed and stood quiet upon the threshold of the other room; he could barely see the inside because the kerosene lamp had been turned low to reduce the heat, so to help her sleep easy, but he could pick his mother's breathings. They were more even than he could remember; perhaps perfect. Encouraged, he stepped in and grabbed the lantern from on top of the mound, he turned the wicks up and the lighting became better.
He advanced further to her bedside and when he looked down upon her face, it was total serenity. She did not even notice a presence. This was a peace, a luxury that had eluded her in the past months. How grateful she would be. He was happy for her and of course for himself too. He stood there for a while, looking for something that would shatter that joy and plunge him straight back into his familiar predicament, but when it seemed that he might have to stand like that forever, he began to turn down the lantern and finally he retreated with thanks.
The following morning while he was returning upon the bed, he was very anxious. He expected her breathings to have gone back to the former state, perhaps even worse this time around, but when he got there, the breathings were no longer there. Only a bewildering stillness. And he knew at once that she was dead.
Previous Posts in the Series – ALEKWU
ALEKWU Prologue – Adakole, His Brother and Their Sick Mother
ALEKWU 1 – Adakole’s Mother Asked for Periwinkles Pepper Soup
Next Episode in the Series – ALEKWU
ALEKWU 3 – Allegiance to ALEKWU