Saturday, April 14, 2012

Here Comes The Father No More!

It never happened like this.
It never was like today.
The First Lady, Madam Callista Mutharika, never went ahead of the President.
Be it at public functions, be it a private event: Madam Mutharika always went behind, or in front of, the President.
But nobody went ahead of the other; at least, when the two had something to attend to (together). President Bingu wa Mutharika- now deceased; now history- (whenever they had to attend an event together) always went together with Madam Callista Mutharika.
It (the strange thing) happened today- as part, perhaps, of the sad story that started on Thursday last week, when President Bingu wa Mutharika collapsed at the New State House in Lilongwe. Medical experts at Kamuzu Central Hospital later called the condition cardiac arrest.
Mutharika (the nation was made to believe he was still arrive after 11:30 a.m. that Thursady) was then flown to South Africa. His (should we say 'his', or the body's? That is the question best answered by common sense and the passions of the day) body was flown to South Africa, and the destination was One Military Hospital.
The President will never know that he went there.
That he is here, too (he will never know); these he will never know. Because he was not there in person,just in flame.
These things, these circumstances, are what led to the happening of the strange circumstances today at Kamuzu International Airport in Malawi's capital city, Lilongwe.
Madam Mutharika came along, and came earlier.
She came off the plane an hour before the arrival of a man she loved so dearly. It is a not a long time ago, after all, that the two united in holy matrimony. It was an event of sorts. The nation, like the First Couple, was happy.
Come Thursday, and what? It was over between the two. It was over for the two. The President, Bingu wa Mutharika, had died.
Much to the dismay of people- some of whom were non-Democratic Progressive Party members- of all walks of life. Just in the nick of time a President has died. The first sitting president in Malawi to die in office. The first to leave citizens wondering. Wondering about the readiness of our medical facilities. Wondering whether death has any boundaries. Whether, in fact, death has eyes to see the boundaries.
The boundaries between the rich and poor. The boundaries well-guarded.
But this is a story for another day.
Madam Mutharika, coming out of that plane, did cut a sad figure. In her life, one more important individual has departed.
No one can say Madam Mutharika, who lost her former husband to invisible death, is used to this; used to this giant sadness that comes in this enormous hole of blackness. That is why she looked down when she landed at Kamuzu International Airport.
This started with the plane that ferried her from South Africa two hours before. It circled Kamuzu International Airport three times, before landing down. That is its way of 'looking down'- landing down.
Then, the plane having landed down, it let out Madam Mutharika- who looked down.
The plane landing down is a metaphor. And, so, Madam Mutharika looking down.
This sadness, this national sorrow, weighs us down. It is so strange nobody touches it. But so 'felt' the nation has come to a stand-still.
This sadness was, in Madam Callista Mutharika, today personified. Her sadness is the nation's sadness.
This Saturday Madam Mutharika came earlier. She was so tired she went to the Very Important Persons section to rest. But there is no rest. Someone in her life is gone. Someone in the sphere of this nation is gone.
There is no time for rest; just sadness. No time for rest; the nation is bracketed by this sadness.
That is why Madam Mutharika came alone.
One hour before her former husband. Just last Thursday, and today we call 'him' her former husband?
Life is, surely, unfair.
The former First Lady came alone today. And, as with the rest of the nation, joined others back home in waiting for the body of the former Head of State.
Bingu wa Mutharika, Malawi's most-immediate former Head of State, arrived (that is, his embalmed body) an hour later.
To be welcomed by Madam Mutharika. To be welcomed by a mourning nation.
South African soldiers were there, too. At Kamuzu International Airport.
Their duty was to hand over the body of Malawi's former Head of State.
The body had left lifeless that Thursday night, having spent the better part of the afternoon and evening at Kamuzu Central Hospital. Lifeless. Breathless. Hopeless.
These (lifelessness, breathlessness, hopelessness) are the symbols of sadness. Like the Red, Green and Black colours on our National Flag, they are three.
What is wrong with three, that there is three in our national colours, and three is represented in breathlessness, lifelessness, and hopelessness?
What is so special about (the name) Kamuzu; that the lifeless, hopeless, and breathless body of former Head of State and Government (Bingu wa Mutharika) went to 'Kamuzu' Central Hospital that Thursday morning, flew to South Africa (the body) through 'Kamuzu' International Airport (that evening, on the way to One Military Hospital in South Africa), and back through 'Kamuzu' International Airport today (for this last journey that is making us tearful; now that you (Angwazi- the name Bingu inherited from Kamuzu)?
The thing is, there is nothing special in all these names. The only speacial thing is that a Head of State and Government- someone so special to us- has died. These names have just taken in the importance.
It has been a sad day. Really. Callista coming (to her mother country) alone.
Until last week, she was the mother of the nation.
The mother that walked hand in hand with the President.
Never behind.
Never in front.
Together, always on schedule.
No more.
May the Soul of Ngwazi Professor Bingu wa Mutharika Rest in Eternal Peace.
The Once Mighty Heart of Bingu wa Mutharika Has Been Stilled At Last.
Some day, beyond the blueless skies, we may meet again.
And, then, Callista will never walk alone.    

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