• Wally Mbassi

Will I ever meet them again?

When you enrol in any university degree (undergraduate or postgraduate) you feel excited and apprehensive. The excitement comes from various aspects: it is a new experience, you are going to meet new people and perhaps live away from home. Each of these aspects is attached to levels of apprehension.

It is absolutely normal to feel nervous when you are starting a new experience, meeting new people or leaving family and (childhood) friends behind. You know you will miss them but you put things into perspectives: you can always visit them on weekends (if you are still in the same country) or during term and summer breaks (if you are away from your home country).

Sometimes, you may not even be able to put things into perspectives for various reasons: home is too far away and you can't afford to visit at all or as often as you would like to; there are too many travel restrictions at any given time (e.g.: Covid-19 travel restrictions). That's when you start asking yourself: "will I ever meet them again"?

A question I have been asking myself almost every day in the last couple of years. I am not saying those who can visit friends and family often don't ask themselves that question, I am sure they do sometimes.

I guess what I am trying to say is: when you know you won't be able to see loved ones for a very long period, you admit to yourself that some of them may not even be alive when you are finally able to visit or resettle home. On many occasions, when I've asked myself that question (will I ever meet them again?) I've applied some logic to my answer, as if death follows any logic. I would think:

"Well I hope so. My grandmothers might not make it, the poor old dears. Mum and dad are old too but still quite fit so yes, it's highly likely I will meet them again. If my parents are okay, their siblings and my siblings are too, I will meet them again. My friends are just like me (young and wild and free) so this question doesn't even apply to them".

These lines of thoughts usually reassure me enough to refocus on my current research degree. They used to anyway, up until two weeks ago when I was reminded (once again) that death defies any logic. I lost one of my closest friends who was, as I said, young and wild and free. He wasn't then, according to my logic, suited for death.

But that logic of mine didn't prevent him from being killed by armed robbers who were after nothing but his mobile phone. I felt sad, angry and above all powerless. How I wish I was able to attend his burial ceremony! But of course, I couldn't. It made me panic. I thought about my late friend, my friends who are still alive, my nuclear family, my extended family and I went back to asking myself: "will I ever meet them again"?

The only answer I can give at this stage is: "Yes, I will meet them again". I may not be able to see them or hear them or touch them again but I will always be able to meet them through the memories I built with them throughout the years.

While I will always grieve my friend and I will always miss seeing him, chatting with him on the phone or texting him, I have a two decades stock of memories that we built together and that will allow me to meet him again. The famous Elvis Presley's song "Home is Where The Heart Is" says it all. I may have left loved ones behind, some died and/or may die, but my heart will always be the place where I meet them again.

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