Papa, Please Stay With Me! – By Anthony Gyening-Yeboah

 [On the nineteenth anniversary of Oduro’s mother’s death (which occured when his mother was giving birth to him), his father, Daakyi, is also lying on his own death mat (with chronic cough, fever, and some symptoms which the herbalist in his village could not make any diagnostic schema out of), while Oduro stands beside him in tears, sweat, pain, and despair.

The father struggles and raises his head and shoulders from the bed, and with a weak voice which ebbs into a wheeze says, ‘Oduro, came nearer’. Oduro moves a few steps forward and kneels down beside his dying father. The father begins to speak to him, though the father’s speech is consistently interrupted with a transient apnea.]

Daakyi: Son, I’m really proud of you.

Oduro: (sobbing unceasingly) Thank you papa, I am lucky to have had you, papa.

Daakyi: Son, you are growing, and my life is waning. I know the sun shall not set on my warm breath, so I want to give you all that I have now, that my grave may have an empty corpse.

Oduro: Papa, I need nothing, but only you. Papa, save that you have, and stay alive for me. For you are all that I have.

Daakyi: (coughs blood) Shut up son! I wane each moment your tears flow down you cheeks lane. So just shut up! Shut (coughs again)

Oduro: (tears flow like stream)

Daakyi: (In tears, coughing, and smiling) I see angels around me. They whisper to me, saying, ‘you have nineteen minutes more to live’. Son, I have an assignment for you. There are burning coals in the oven, go and fetch some into our iron. The shirt my great grandfather gave to me, which was a gift to him from a slave trader he had dressed the wound, though the slave trader had stolen his wife, Daakyiwaa to the yonder lands seven years ago, is lying on the stool under the palm tree. Take this shirt, and iron it for me. Son iron the shirt very well, and bring it back to me before the nineteenth minute.

[Oduro quickly runs out of the room, and does as the father requested. He then comes back with the ironed shirt hanging on a naked palm frond of about thirty centimeters long.]

Oduro: Papa, this is the shirt you asked for. I have ironed it as you requested.

Daakyi: (the father stared at the shirt and begun to speak) Oduro, you picked a crumpled shirt from the dusty floor, and you ironed it. Oduro, I hope you know what a well ironed shirt says about ones gentlemanliness? Oduro, what did you do to the shirt? You made the each crease straight; you touched the shirt with heat. Now the shirt is straight enough to even cut and make marks. Such is life. Each moment of pain; each moment of hardship; each moment of fire is meant to make you straight; is meant to remove all your creases.

But these blessed moments of pain, blood, toil and sweat do not work alone. They need you to realize their presence, and just as you exposed each part of the shirt to the iron in order to give each crease a touch, so you have to give each part of your existence the blessed opportunity to be touched by fire. Each moment you meet hardships, do not run away, but rather expose your creases, and frailties to these moments, that they may be made straight. For those blessed dark experiences will draw you nigh to becoming human, whole, and wise. Do not run away, but learn from each experience.

[The father expires gently]

Oduro: (shaking his father strongly, and shedding tears like a waterfall) Papa, please stay with me, though these your last words will be with me forever. Papa, please stay with me! Papa! Papa! Papa!

[Oduro kneels beside his father’s body, and meditates on his father’s last words, but still in tears.]