October 5th, 2014.
On that Sunday morning, I woke up and was cleaning the sitting room as usual. Uncle Jack lay on the long sofa sleeping, his hands touching the floor. He had never slept in such a way – careless.
I wanted sweeping under the chair and tapped him to rise. NOTHING HAPPENED. I tapped again. SAME RESULT. My cousin then walked in, watched what happened, touched him, shook him. THERE WAS NO RESPONSE. We gave each other a look… Suspicion! But we denied it. That was when dad, from his room, walked on us.
“What’s it?” Dad asked.
“We’ve been trying to wake him, but he’s not responding.” I replied.
Earlier, dad had been preparing to travel with a friend. He had kept his luggage in the car before walking in and calling on my uncle to go into his room and sleep, citing the many times he had warned him. Thinking maybe he was drunk, he allowed him continue in his sleep.
“Wait! What do you mean he’s not responding?” Dad asked again, this time with a countenance that aligned with our suspicion.
Quickly, he came closer, tapped him repeatedly, touched his bare tummy and screamed, “Ee! Ka ayie! Ka nyi ne?” that is, “No! What is this?” and pacing length and breadth of the sitting room.
Mum rushed out, still sleepy, “Ka nyi kwagh?” that is, “What is it?”
“Terhile ngu delen ga! (Terhile isn’t responding)” Dad answered in a shaky voice.
“Uwu! Di nena? (What? How?)” Mum asked, expecting no answer. It was obvious. But we had to keep faith. We all denied what it was. We couldn’t be that sure. No one had an MBBS there anyway.
Mum had a friend, a doctor’s wife. She tried reaching her but it wasn’t going through. They went for the early morning mass. Dad had no other alternative. He drove to church wearing a long face.
In about 3-5 minutes, Dr Steven Hwande arrived, did the touching, eye-check and all. He was mute for a moment before requesting that he be taken to a hospital.
After 20 minutes or so, dad returned with the news – Uncle Jack was no more.
For me, I was sure the “mugging” would turn out to be only a nightmarish incident that Jack and I would soon be talking about. I did not believe that my uncle, the guy who I thought knew all the answers, could be so vulnerable as to die.