After a long trip, I finally reached my uncle’s place near Congo DRC’s main hospital. The sun had set already, and I was tired and hungry. Matilda, my aunt, welcomed me warmly. “I’ve been waiting for you,” she said. “Would you like to eat?” “Please,” I said, and she gently motioned toward the empty kitchen chairs, inviting me to sit down and rest.
“I can’t get used to how quiet the house is, with the children being in boarding school so far away,” she said when she returned with a warm meal. I nodded and asked where my uncle was. “He’ll be back when everybody’s asleep,” Matilda said. “He always comes back when we’ve gone to bed already.”
During the three months I stayed with them, I often heard my uncle come home in the early hours when I was already in bed. One night he came home earlier though, it must have been around ten, and I remember because I asked where he’d come from. From work, he said, and I got frustrated, because he smelled like alcohol, and it was so obvious that he was lying.
“Which company does business till this time of night?” I asked with a raised voice.
“Shut up!” he shouted back at me. “How do you know what we do at work?” eI just returned to my bedroom, not wanting to escalate the conversation. After lying in bed for about ten to fifteen minutes, my mind racing, I heard banging noises from my uncle’s room. My heart sank and I ran straight to their door, but it was locked. I knocked but my uncle told me to mind my own business from inside the room. I stood there frozen for a few moments, thinking about what to do, when I heard my aunt cry and scream. I ran to my neighbor’s house to help. He opened up in his pyjama, looking annoyed that I’d woken him up, but after I told him what happened, he said, “Please call the police because the issue is getting out of hand!”
The police arrived in less than twenty minutes. “Where are they?” they asked as they got out of the car.
“Follow me, they’re in their room, but the door is locked!” The police kicked the door in. The room was a mess, full of broken furniture and glass shards from the nightlights he’d thrown against the wall. The police arrested my uncle.
The next morning, I brought my aunt to the hospital because she was still in a lot of pain. The doctor said she had to stay for three days because her condition was not that good.
When my aunt felt better, we went to visit my uncle in jail. He asked for forgiveness and promised he’d never hurt my aunt again. She accepted. My uncle was released with a warning two days later.
Over the next year, he got admitted to the hospital many more times. The doctors told him he should quit drinking and smoking, and that he would die if he continued, but he never stopped. One day, he collapsed on his way back from work. Some good Samaritans found him lying on the street, decided to take him to the hospital, and then came to inform us. I guess it wasn’t surprising that something like this happened, but I still felt terrible when the doctor told me he was in critical condition, and that he’d probably die.
Matilda collapsed when she heard the news. One of her friends held her and poured some water on her face. She woke up again crying.
Three days later my uncle died. It was so sad to see how he had lost his life for not listening to the advice of the doctor.
26 June, 2023