A Patriarch


Eleven hours of flight across the Atlantic Ocean. By road, I crossed two rivers; river Niger, and John’s River. My destination was across from a market, and adjacent to a town hall. Lush Iroko trees in every direction. Scattered, and casting shadows over acres of brush land.  A grazing field, decades before my life began. My father told me.

Two anthills guarding the footpath. Tall mounds from red soil dug up by ants claiming territories they did not own. I approached the mounds. Termites meandering around. New owners of the land, or mere tenants? No one had challenged their presence for years. My grandfather abandoned the space one hundred years ago. His son, my father, became the overseer until he departed twenty-one years ago.  Timing of birth anointed my only brother as the manager of the estate. A veritable lord of the land. He lorded from a distance, until he joined our ancestors the day I was summoned home. That was how my journey began.

Pieces of broken earthen pots littered the ground. Along the path to my grandfather’s house, birds congregated on several trees with ripe fruits. On one special tree, red feathered birds, and buzzing bees shared their bounty. Beaks and talons probing abundant feasts. Buzzing and gyrations on dripping fruits.

I heard rumbling noise from a distance. Drops of rain on my face. Effervescent sounds on baked tropical soil. Unique aroma emanated from the fizz. Special earthy scent of the first rain. Anticipating a tropical deluge, I quickened my pace to my ancestral house. Corrugated iron roof. Rust and red dust. Delicate floor more than one hundred years old. Preserved for eternity, if taken care of. I removed my shoes and socks. I walked barefoot where my grandfather walked. An owl asked, “who-o-o who-o-o?” Words came out of my mouth, “I’m home grandpa.” A spiritual transformation.

I knelt, and kissed the soil. Sadness overtook me. Tears rolled down my eyes. I mourned for my dead brother, alone. I remembered the last time we stood together. Mourning the death of our father.

I returned from my sojourn, a Patriarch. It is my turn to lord over the land. My birthright.

Written by Fidelis O. Mkparu (2016), author of ‘Love’s Affliction’

Whispers of love


“There was no moon to influence the night. Just you, your beauty, and your wondrous smile. We sat for two hours. Kisses and nibbles. Laughing and fondling. Falling for each other endlessly. We woke to embrace, and arouse. Fanning the fire we started. Losing every sense of time, and embracing candor. Whispers and moaning.” ~Fidelis O Mkparu, (2016) author of ‘Love’s Affliction’

Love Gymnastics


“Sitting in the outdoor cafe, the sun finally set. The clouds grew darker. We ignored the rumbling of the night sky, and the parallel bar gymnastics of the lightning. Flashes of light in all directions. My heart began its own flip flops. An emotional gymnast. Even the rain could not put out my fire, as I watched your eyes undress me.” ~ Fidelis O Mkparu (2016), author of ‘Love’s Affliction’

Sentimental Goodbye


I remember when we were kids; secret pacts with our pinkies intertwined. “We’ll be friends forever. No, brother and sister.” We sealed our pact with a trip to the candy store. I bought for you, and you held my hand. Two innocent kids having fun. You clung to me. Exaggerated swinging hands, and skip walk, until we reached your house. A story building across from my primary school, where your mother was my teacher. From afar, I could see your parents watching us, leaning on the ornamental rail on their balcony. My third trip escorting you home that evening. A frown on your father’s face was not menacing enough for me to overlook your mother’s exuberance. It was overtly evident with her smile. Candid expressions, as they watched our summer evening ritual.

“They’re back!” your mom said. Sheer enthusiasm. In the backdrop, I heard her whisper to your father, “I wish he was our son.” I smiled. It felt good to be wanted by your parents. An option for me, in case my parents waved their rights. I knew it could never happen, but it felt good. Conceit.

When I decided to go home, you sobbed. Tears, and a look of disappointment in your eyes. “I want to live with you,” you said. You were eight. An innocent proposal. I smiled. “I’ll ask my mom,” you added.

“I’ll be back in the morning,” I said. You hugged me, and held on. Toffee breath wisped through my face. Your penchant to blow your breath on my face whenever we hugged. My spoiled little sister.

Now, years have passed, and you may have forgotten our final pact in July of 1977. At six pm, the church bell rang. We stood at the entrance to the sacristy. Only one of us could go in. It was my last time at the altar. The letter from the Dominican seminary fell from my hand. You picked it up, and read it against my will. My pastoral wish granted, but medical school had flirted with me when I was vulnerable. I saw myself in a different white robe. Not for Sunday mass, but for a daily healing. I acquiesced.

When I entered the sacristy, you chose the side door to the front pew. I watched you as the single pew by the altar welcomed my knees. My head bowed in total submission to God. I asked for forgiveness with my eyes closed. It was the end of my Dominican priesthood fantasy, and my last day with you. You were there, my little sister, to support my final decision.

When we emerged from the church, you left me standing by the door. No hugs, or intertwined fingers. From a distance, you said, “don’t let any girl break your heart, and please, come home in one piece, someday.” I watched you disappear as the setting sun blinded me.

 

Fidelis O Mkparu, July 17, 2016.

My mother


Loveseat, for only you and me. I sat next to you. Tender fingers ruffled my hair. I closed my eyes. My right ear rested on your chest. Fascinating rhythmic sounds. Your heartbeats. Intrigued. Eyes twinkled, and mouth agape. A worthy discovery, at age of five. We exchanged smiles. You pressed my head firmly to your chest. It quickens. Enthralling sounds of your heart. Perplexed by the increased rate, I exclaimed, “Mom, I heard sounds!” My first patient. First heart examination.

That was how it started. Daily heart examinations. It was you my mother. Who else could? Only you chose for me. My profession. A heart doctor. But first, your son.

“My son listened to my heart,” you said to your friends every Christmas. We exchanged smiles. On departure, instead of smiles, we cried. You wiped my tears.

I held your hand. Lowered my ear to your chest. No heartbeats. You left me. Twenty-one years ago. I cried alone. My tears never dried.

Just a minute! I still smile, each time I listen to heartbeats.

No more tears. Only smiles for you, my mother.

Fidelis O Mkparu, MD., FACC.

December 14, 2014