My father was interred this week at our village. It was one of the hardest things I’ve experienced so far. Seeing him lying in state was surreal. I wanted to touch him but couldn’t. I didn’t.
I couldn’t cry like I wanted to because the crying would have triggered certain unwanted behaviors from observers. Specifically, when survivors start crying publicly at a traditional burial, it could trigger attendees to attempt to provide comfort by touching/hugging which are actions we were strongly discouraged from engaging in.
This aspect of being back in the village (worrying about who means you well) was the least favorite part of returning home. I fully believe that no one who meant me or my family harm would ever succeed. There were several instances where we got spanners thrown into the works but we (my siblings and I) pulled through admirably. It was eye opening to witness bad behavior from people supposed to be supportive but I was incredibly grateful that we got enough help from other quarters (notably my ma’s sister) to make it through the burial.
I’m back in Lagos for the final stretch of my visit and I’m happily drained. Now the work begins to plan out what life after dad looks like for my mother.