It was a special day for everyone-the day of the eclipse. People waited with anticipation and unabated breath for the second hand of the clock to kick the 10.17 mark. The scientists had said that it would occur at that time. In unison people waited for one common thing announced by the scientists. They had lately lost trust especially on the weatherman whose instruments seemed to be played tricks on by forces that only they knew. To some people, the younger generation it was a time to do some of the craziest stuff to pin the special day on their memory…like loosing virginity in the dim light provided by two objects of nature joined together hence becoming one; or going down on one knee, a sparkling diamond ring bought earlier for the occasion in hand proposing to their better half. To the older generation it only brought memories. Memories that roused feelings of pride and made faces glow despite the little darkness; and memories that made hair stand, back of knees tingle and sweat trickle down spines and growing hopes. Hopes that the darkness continues unperturbed and hide their other side that no one else was to see.
Diang’a sat up on the bed waiting for the sun to rise. This had lately become his new-found hobby given that he frequently lost sleep quite early. He had spent a night, again in his daughter’s bedroom. How could the architects be so unfair? He marvelled at the thought of Emma, his daughter having the bedroom that directly faced the sunrise. She deserved that. Even more. He thought. The master bedroom had been located on the other side of the horizon so that the sun first greeted and checked on Emma each morning before her dad did. Emma had grown to be fond of the warm sun rays falling and kissing her temples each day. She believed that only then was her day ready to start. But she was not there to have not the things that Diang’a, her father wished she had and not the things she already had. That thought jerked him from his reverie and hulled him into his present state. He remembered why he had spent the night in Emma’s bedroom…it had been the routine for the family since Emma was born. It was one or rather used to be one of the most important days in the family’s calendar. The day Emma got to sing with the help of her parents and friends her birthday song, made a wish and blew the candles. She also got a few presents, mostly from her parents and few friends given that they had just settled in and Emma had not been able to strike reasonable friendships with the other kids from the neighbourhood.
Emma had been born on the same day that the eclipse occurred. She was a bundle of joy…a gift to her mother and a blessing to Diang’a. Each time he took a peek at her, he thought she looked like his grandmother. In her eyes Diang’a saw Nyabera, his grandmother. He thought Emma would grow up to be a good storyteller and an orator. Nyabera was a great narrator and whomever took after her, Diang’a thought would make the world roll and fold her legs under her trunk, hands at the jaws for support listening to her, Emma.
Emma’s blood was light and her soul accepted to live. She was fast in everything. She learnt to crawl on fours before she could sit. She grew fast and when she uttered her first word Diang’a saw her mother’s intelligence in her. Lisa, Emma’s mother was an intelligent woman. In college where they met she had stunned Diang’a with the way she took to explain concepts in classes whenever asked upon by lecturers. She was headed to achieving great things. She had dreams and only she could transform them into reality. However her dreams remained that, dreams. In their final year of study, Lisa discovered that she carried another life inside her. She saw her world crumble momentarily before her and her dreams turn into nightmares
The college policy stated that she be discontinued. They saw it a necessity to come together for each other…Diang’a for Lisa to support her during the moment that she needed motivation most so that she does not lose hope; Lisa for Diang’a to urge him on with school work so that he graduates and gets a job; and Lisa and Diang’a for Emma to provide the favourable environment that she needed for maximum growth and development. Lisa delivered Emma few days after Diang’a graduated and was recruited into the job market immediately after college. Time passed unnoticed. Diang’a through his exemplary work earned friends and foes alike. However his foes outweighed his friends who envied him secretly. With that came the letter of transfer to a town at the slopes of Mt. Kenya.
With the transfer, the young family’s happiness seemed short-lived. Emma’s health started deteriorating and was taken ill as often as she bathed. She frequently developed cold and headache. The doctors said it was the change in the environment that was impacting negatively on Emma. Even with the change in her bathing water from the ice-cold that flowed from the taps to warm and the change in clothing as suggested by the doctors, very little changed. The final blow came when Emma suddenly caught pneumonia. Lisa and Diang’a did not realise its seriousness and thought it was just another ague. When Emma was finally rushed to hospital, the doctor informed them that it was too late. Emma had joined Nyabera across the other side leaving behind an oratory gap without a promising potential heir to take after them. The Diang’as were at a loss. The whole world was at a loss. A young soul was eviscerated from her palms. Maybe only heaven was enriched by the arrival of two great orators and narrators. The heavens’ worship songs would occasionally be interrupted after the arrival of Nyabera and her granddaughter Emma.
Diang’a lost himself after Emma’s death. He felt the void created by her departure. He questioned why she had to go. He asked questions some repeatedly in different ways but still failed to learn of any answers. He cried uncontrollably and let tears roll freely down his overly bushy temples but still could not manage to have a perspective. The tears was a disservice to his manly efforts. He could not make out what was around him and certainly not what was within him. In the end he resorted to hiding in his work. He buried his entire being in his work so that no one noticed how the loss had affected him. He was consumed with rage and anger at himself. At his inability to save his own. What kind of man was he that he could not save the little Nyabera? She, Nyabera was disappointed in him. He failed her, Nyabera to raise the only thing that carried her entire self. He failed to notice the effect that the loss of Emma had on Lisa. He did not imagine that he would soon lose Lisa too. He did not notice that he needed to be there for her. To hold her hand and tell her that it was all going to be okay.
Like Diang’a, Lisa also sought for something to do to occupy her head and to distract her from the pain she felt. Unlike her man, Lisa did not have a job to consume her time. To keep her busy. She however found companion with the internet. She joined online dating sites to distract her and lull the pain she felt. She also found pleasure and derived fun from the people she interacted with in her account. She felt lonely and realised she needed company. Online dating sites gave her the company she needed now that her man failed to play the part. She did not realize how serious the fun would get.
Three months and she was hooked, like a tilapia she could not let go even if she wanted. OkCupid was turning her against all that mattered most to her. Her time was occupied and she drifted even further from Diang’a. They were losing each other to work and to net. She spent hours on end before the laptop and sometimes forgot even to eat. Asked she would say that there was no longer a kid in their home. She meant that everyone was to take care of themselves. She did not cook, Diang’a came with take away fast food; she did not wash the clothing, they were taken to the laundry lady. Diang’a sent house cleaning each morning making it possible for her to maximise the time she spent chatting.
Diang’a noticed when it was too late…when one day she announced that she would be travelling to Norway for a job opportunity she was offered online. He was confused, Diang’a. He did not know whether to hug and embrace Lisa to celebrate her success or to hug her to feel her warm body while at the same time feeling sorry for himself. Lisa said everything had been taken care of. The passport, visas, and the air ticket. It dawned on him that there was nothing he could do to change her mind.
Sitting on his daughter’s bed alone, without the people who made his world spin effortlessly, waiting for the sun to rise so that he could watch yet again another eclipse. Diang’a hopes that it brings with it more than just the shadow it cast on his whole being, his existence.