If a book must not be judged by its cover, then a man must not be judged by his countenance. Right now, my face wears a broad smile, but my heart is full of tears. The story is long but short. I am bereaved. I lost my dear wife, Celine, just this Sunday, while I was in Bayelsa covering election.
That is enough to create a heavy heart, but what is this smile on my face? On July 22, 1994, to be precise, in Makurdi, Benue State, my wife died and woke up. She suffered eclampsia with high level odoema. Doctors said the success rate of mother and child surviving at full delivery time is one in 100. Option usually was to open up the womb at seven months and separate mother from child so each can battle for its own life. Nobody did that for my wife.
When it was time for delivery, the known risk exploded. My wife had very violent fits with bloody and foamy mouth. Only men could hold her to be opened up after 500 percent dose of anesthetics had failed to knock her off. So, raw surgery was carried out, so I learnt.
After this exercise, the baby was brought out ‘dead’ and dumped into a carton and sent to the mortuary but because the door was locked, the baby was left at the door to wait for the mother.
The baby later made some noises and was found to still be alive. The mother made it too but slept for two weeks after the surgery, woke up, slept again for four days.
During the struggle, I begged God to spare my wife to live and bring up my children, two boys and two girls. I promised God that if my wife was allowed to live for at least 15 years, that I vowed I would never cry but to smile all through whenever she was called home by God.
Now, Sunday, November 12, 2023, my wife gave up the ghost, 29 and half years after I made the vow. Now, it’s up to me to fulfil the promise. I have been putting up the struggle to put up a smile. I have succeeded to a large extent, but my heart is wailing and weeping. I am smiling but crying.