By Aruna Turay. Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgPhone: +232 (78) 367079
The Late Mrs. Mantie Tina Turay – RIPP
“Daddy duya nor forget for buy for me cornflakes way you dae cam nar ose oh.” Translated: “Daddy please don’t forget to buy my cornflakes when coming home oh.”
These words, from that persuasive and melodious female voice of the late Mrs. Mantie Tina Turay (Tee), keep sounding my ears every second of the minute, every minute of the hour, every hour of the day, every day of the week, every week of the month and every month of the year as if they are still being spoken.
These were the last words from my wife, 5 minutes before fake news took her away from me at 1:38pm on Thursday, March 19, 2020.
The once small sweet family
As usual, day in day out, I dire not step out of our house without landing her a goodbye kiss on her soft lips, followed with a‘eyes-closing kiss’ on her forehead which will see her cheerfully escorting me few meters along the road on my way to work or hustle.
This was what happened between 7:30am and 8:00am on March 19 as I set out for work. As if she knew that was her escorting me for the very last time, she walked me down from our residence at Upper Gbendembu in Goderich, covering approximately three hundred meters to the main street where I boarded a taxi.
She stood there with me for almost 40 minute until I got a taxito work. She continued standing at the same point, her eyes fixed on the taxi I boarded until where she can see us no more.
Surprised I was that morning, to an extent I was almost tempted to return and work from home, thinking that of all the days, she was missing me more that morning and might not want me to go to work.
Before I would reach the office in approximately 90 minutes, she had called my phone to check on me like three times.
Finally when I reached the office,I immediately reported to her that I reached safe. That was when I heard her breathing in and out deeply, saying “Thank you Jesus.”
Curiously, I asked: “But Teewhy the deep breath?”
She softly responded: “Daddy I was not satisfied with that taxi you took, the driver looks drunk”.
Our Last Moment:
Few hours after we ended the call, I left the office for State House to attend a press conference summoned by President Julius Maada Bio to update newsmen on government’s preparedness against COVID-19 entering Sierra Leone, as it was already reported in some neighboring countries.
Sitting in the conference hall awaiting His Excellency’s arrival, Tee called to inform me that she was at our daughter’s school at Metchem Junction, Goderich to collect her but that she will be spending fewmore minutes taking extra lesson before they go home.
“Ok Tee no wahala thank you.” I said to her.
Before I could end these words, the president’s entering was announced and he was already in the hall.
This moment, I quickly said to her: “Ok Tee later the president is entering now.”
She then fast communicated the words: “Daddy duya nor forget for buy for me cornflakes way you dae cam nar ose oh.”
“Okay, okay” I responded before the call ends.
The national anthem was played and the president started addressing us.
The Sad News:
Less than 2 minutes into H.E’s address, my phone started ringing. I rejected the calls 6 consecutive times because I dire not pick a call while the president is talking, especially when I was seated in a position where the president sees me directly.
The calls keptcoming and I kept rejecting them until when the president was done addressing us.
I bend down between my legs and answered one of the calls.
My oh my!! I still regret why I answered that call.The caller, a female voice, harshly reported:
“Hello,Mr. Turay? She asked.
“Yes, who dat this?” (Who is this?). I quietly asked.
“You wef don die (your wife is dead). She responded and ended the call abruptly.
I tried returning the call but the phone had been switched off. Seconds after, another call came in, this time from one of Tee’s closest friends. She was trying to convey the sad news tactfully by first trying to ask my whereabouts but she could not contain the crying-tone on her voice.
So I asked her: “Me wef don die eh?” (My wife is dead right?).
In deep tears with a loud voice she shouted: “Yes, yes, yes Aruna we don loss Tee” (yes, yes, yes, Aruna we have lost Tee).
I bowed my head in tears and conveyed the sad news to one of my bosses, Amadu Lamrana Bah, who was seated next to me on the same row.
With shock and sad face and voice, Amadu communicated the sad news to colleague journalists in the hall.
To date, I cannot remember after I ended that call with my wife’s friend, how I was able to leavethe State House hall to reach the Emergency Surgical Hospital in Goderich. What I know is, I was at the Hospital in time to identify the mortal remains of my dear wife and she was handed over to me by the head of the hospital.
How Fake News Snatched my Joy:
Later that same day, after conveying my wife’s remains to the mortuary, I visited the scene where she dropped dead.
Everybody I met at the scene (situated approximately 50 meters from our daughter’s school, dropped in tears upon seeing me coming from afar.
With ‘suppressed courage’, Amie, Tee’s closest friend told me they were all together when Tee was on the phone with me few minutes before her death.
She said:“Aruna, Tee was standing here with us and we were all joking and laughing happily as she awaitsher daughter to break from school”.
She said few seconds after Tee ended the phone call with me, an unknown young man came passed them on a motorbike shouting: “Tee! Tee! Tee! Go take you pikin nar school wan tem oh. Den dae pa gee dem Corona injection. Right now 3 pikin don die nar the school.
Translated: “Tee! Tee! Tee! Go now and collect your child from her school. They are currently administering Corona vaccine on them and 3 of the pupils are already dead.”
Upon hearing this shocking news, Tee, being a Cardiac patient, couple with the fact that she loved our daughter so much, after medical advice say she will never be able to get a second child),jumped in shock and ran to the school.
She covered approximately 50 meters from where she was standing to the school, just to be told by the school’s administration that the news is FAKE and that all the pupils including our daughter were safe in their classrooms. There was nothing like children being vaccinated and there was also nothing like a child dying in the school.
According to the school proprietress, after she was told this, Tee bowed down at the school gate for some minutes breathing heavily.
She was offered water to drink and asked to come into the school compound and cool off for a while but she turned down the offers.
She got up minutes later and walked few meters heading back to where was came running from and that was when she dropped on the floor unconscious.
Peoplerushed her to the Emergency Surgical Hospital situated some 200 meters away but unfortunately, she died before they could reach the hospital, the doctor told me.
This sad and unfortunate experience was what I earlier vowed to myself never to talk about to anyone for fear of waking up old wound in my heart. I have turned down many interviews on this for this reason.
However, I decided to write this Feature on strong emotions, with the hope that my story will help in the fight against the manufacturing and spreading of FAKE NEWS in and out of Sierra Leone.
Just don’t believe,just don’t manufacture and just don’t spread fake news. Go at least, an extra mile to confirm what you are told before spreading.
Don’t waste another precious life. Let Tee, my dear wife’s life save other lives.Crosscheck and confirm anything you are told before spreading.
Finally, kindly join me and the families in praying for Tee’s Soul to Rest in Perfect Peace.RIPP darling, you’ll forever be missed.