C.G’s doctor sighed and we fell silent for a few seconds before he spoke again.
“Your dad is right; according to culture in these circumstances, your family does take [C.G’s remains]. However, he also needs to be sensitive to the fact that Chris is hurting too. I think if both parties are sympathetic to the other’s pain, then a compromise can be reached,” he said thoughtfully.
“You could have two vigils; one at Chris’ place tonight, then another at your father’s place when he returns tomorrow.”
“And the burial?”
“That would be at your father’s village. I’m sure deep down even Chris knows that and he will have to accept it, but at least it will be easier for him to do so if he has had the chance to say bye at his place as well.”
I considered his answer slowly, and came to the conclusion that he was right. It really was the best solution, especially since it gave me an extra night with C.G, and that was all I really wanted at the moment – as much time as I could get with my son before he was buried and taken away from me forever.
“I think you’re right; that’s what I’m going to do,” I finally answered decisively.
“Good; talk to your dad and explain it to him, I’m sure he’ll understand,” he said encouragingly.
“I hope so, because the last thing I want to do right now is fight.”
“I’m sure no one wants that,” he answered, and then stood up. “Let me give you some space to call him in private. I’ll be in my office if you need me.”
“Thank you,” I nodded gratefully, then watched him walk off, before rummaging through my bag for my phone.
My father answered my call almost immediately; “Stephanie!” he exclaimed, his voice hoarse, my name coming out almost as a moan.
As soon as I heard him, I got too choked up to speak and simply cried instead.
“It’s alright, my child. God gives and God takes; we just have to be strong and accept it,” he tried to comfort me.
It did not work.
“This time God has made a mistake, daddy; this time He’s wrong,” I sobbed.
“It has happened, it has happened, and we can’t change it whether He’s wrong or right. You just need to be strong,” he repeated. “I’m coming tomorrow; I’ll take care of everything when I reach.”
This was the perfect cue for me to raise the reason I had called, and so I forced myself to hold back my sobs.
“Yes, I know, but Chris wants to take C.G to his place tonight.”
“What? No! Absolutely not!”
“…he what?” he interrupted angrily. “He never came to ask me for your hand in marriage, he never wedded you, and now he wants to take my grandson? Never!”
“Daddy, he’s his father, and he is also hurt,” I borrowed the argument C.G’s doctor had used on me.
“So what? After all, what kind of father was he to that boy? Always drunk and being written about in the papers!”
“It’s just for one night; so, he can say bye, and so C.G doesn’t have to spend the night alone in a morgue!” I snapped as my hold on my emotions broke and I started to sob.
The sound of me crying again made my father pause for a few seconds, and the next time he spoke, his tone was calmer and more level.
“Stephanie, you have never listened to me, but I want you to listen to me now. I told you not to run off with that man, but you insisted, and all he has brought you since then is pain and problems. In our culture, when a man hasn’t married you, your children don’t belong to him, they belong to the girl’s family. I am coming back tomorrow as your father, and C.G’s grandfather, and I will take him home to the village and bury him on my land. He was my first grandchild and I loved him very much; I can’t allow that useless fellow to take him.”
“Daddy, you are coming tomorrow, I am talking about tonight! Just one night while you aren’t even here; you will still get him tomorrow, I’m just asking for tonight,” I pleaded for him to understand. He was silent for a few seconds, before answering tightly: “Fine, do what you want,” and then hung up.