I was on the balcony, taking in some fresh air. There was something about the night that just appealed to me. The city looked alive in the night, the lights that illuminated the darkness shone and obscured the grim and dull colours that would otherwise be obvious in the light of day. There was just something refreshing as I looked over at the empty streets, the lack of traffic, the absence of hurrying bodies left right and centre. It was peaceful. But I was not getting paid to observe the beauty of the night. I walked back inside.
The Radio station was home to me in many ways that no one could understand. It was now empty, everyone had hurried off to join their families. I was happy to be alone with the guy from the cleaning company but he would knock off any time from midnight.
I particularly enjoyed the late-night shows. I often signed up for the hours that no one wanted. Hosting a show after midnight was not very hard, all I needed was a good topic and good music. There was always that nightcrawler that would be chatting to me or listening in.
Tonight, I was discussing dreams and playing sad songs. A week ago, I graduated online. I finally got my degree in Mass Communications. My sister in law was super proud of me, she had a congratulatory message for me running on Television and in the Daily Mail. I don’t know how she pulled those off. I was humbled by her love and I could never repay her kindness. From the diaspora, she still did things that touched my heart. She was a rare gem.
I played Memories by Maroon 5 and sat back in my chair. This was my brother’s favourite song. I still failed to add 'late' to his name. My late brother, saying it aloud was like a blade twisting in my chest.
Before the Pandemic he was in Spain a male nurse at a retirement home on the outskirts of Castille La Mancha. His wife was teaching at the Community Development centre. Almost 90 per cent of the retirement home where my brother worked died in the first week of April. My brother got sick in June; we had no time to make jokes about the COVID, he was already asthmatic so the virus took hold quickly, we had no reaction time, no time to prepare zero, nada, zilch. I was still haunted by the image of him on a ventilator that his wife had shared with me. His death was quick. The entire country was under lockdown so there was no way for me to go back.
Africa was just getting the sporadic infections at the time, I was cut off completely from the only family I had. I had been so pushy and unreasonable coming back here to the place that had once been home.
I don’t know what I would have done differently when I hugged Luyando at the airport I was very offhanded he was being very sentimental I was only coming home for a few weeks, basically, to party and have a countryside tour with some guys I grew up with, little did I know it was the last time I was going to see Lu alive.
From the news I saw the once alive streets of Spain deserted, I watched as crematoriums were packed with bodies, knowing one of those was my brother Lu had torn me to pieces. I wondered how Helen his wife was. If ever I was sure of anything it was how deeply she loved my brother. She was usually a pillar for him, his biggest supporter. With Lu gone, I dreaded to know who she had become. I thought she would cut me off but she surprised me each time.
As the beat slowed to an end, I played the next song. I was not ready to start talking regrets yet. I played more music for the rest of the hour and read out some messages on Facebook mostly requests for more sad songs and on Whatsapp messenger line I was privileged to be the companion of the Nightcrawlers like myself. I was the Ship captain, lonely but never truly alone. Steering the Nightcrawlers deeper into the night.