Books and Memories: Mourning a good friend
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi
This was the first review that our book club ever had. I got to the venue and found three members already there.
“You must be Diana, I am Viv.” Those were the first words that she ever said to me as she hugged me. She was beautiful in a classy way. Her makeup was well done and she was wearing green fitting pants and a black top. Her glasses were chic. She reminded of what the Late Grace Ogot used to saw, a woman of great Nyadhi meaning a woman of style.
During the book review I learned a lot about Viv. She was a feminist and this made her connect more with the protagonist, Ifemelu and the author Chimamanda. Viv gently lectured me when I expressed my fears of turning 30 and still being single with no kids. She didn’t believe in the ever so loud ticking biological clock or the self-declared shelf life of women hitting 30. We talked about the book in-between catching up and swapping stories about our lives. I met new friends that day, Wambui, Eddah, Esther and Viv. We stopped being strangers while discussing Americanah, sampling dishes at the café and of course, Viv having her wine. Everything she did was so graceful.
It was evident from that day just how much Vivian loved life and the good things that it brings. She had traveled to almost all countries in the world but still remained humble. She would casually mention a date in Paris, book stop in Amsterdam or a beautiful meal in Morocco. Vivian lived a beautiful life.
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
I loved this book and really looked forward to the review. I got to Reata where we were to meet and found Viv already there. She had a glass of wine and her laptop open in front of her. She explained that she was working on her thesis. She had started doing her Masters a couple of years back but had to defer for personal reasons. Years later she was now ready to submit her thesis with the hope of graduating in December this year. We sat in silence as I also worked on my assignments before the others arrived.
At the end of the review, Viv dropped us (Esther and I) in town and she rushed off to another event.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
She arrived late for this review. As usual, Vivian looked stunning. She had just cut her hair short. That was Vivian, confident enough to chop off all her hair and of course she looked exquisite. She was on a new diet and the first thing that she did was place a big bottle of smoothie on the table informing her that was her lunch and dinner. She wasn’t tempted by the Ethiopian food that we were eating or the wine. She had a plan to lose some weight. She mentioned a new guy that she had met. A tall handsome man. Vivian had all sorts of plans. I had to leave the book review early and the last thing that she told me was that I looked great in the African top that I was wearing. ‘I need to get your tailor’s number,’ she added as we said goodbye. I never gave her the number because I assumed that she was kidding. That was the last time that I saw Viv alive.
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
I was in a bus traveling home from my Easter vacation. I had just started reading this book. Four hours into our journey, our bus broke down and everyone got out as the mechanics came to fix it. It was too hot outside so I stayed in the bus reading. Soon I got distracted and switched on my internet to check my messages on Watsapp. I immediately got a series of messages.
‘OMG, this can’t be happening’
‘It is not true’
‘I can’t stop crying’
They were a couple of messages in the book club chat group all expressing shock. I scrolled up, trembling, heart racing. I knew it was something bad but I tried to comfort myself that it could be book panic. Maybe a character was killed off or did something happen to an author? Was the next review cancelled? I knew it was something worse but nothing could ever have prepared me for the news of Vivian’s death. I was confused. I couldn’t even make sense of the words. Thought it meant something else. However, Vivian had died in a road accident. I wept alone in that bus though I was still confused. I checked her Facebook page and she was just talking about her vacation. She was happy, having fun and she even wore a bikini at the coast (her weight loss efforts worked out after all). I went back to the messages convinced that I had gotten it wrong but it had been confirmed. Viv was gone.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
This is the book that we are supposed to be reading this month for review on April 16th 2016. I can’t imagine a review without her. I keep trying to run away from conversations about her because they bring back the pain. I am afraid that I will see the other members of the book club and breakdown crying like I have been doing each day since I got the news. I don’t want to let her down because she was committed to the club and I guess she would have wanted us to keep reading and reviewing books (does that make sense?). I don’t know how to act, what is the right thing to do? What will help ease the hurt? I honestly don’t know what to do to stop crying every time her name comes up.
Viv loved life. She loved traveling, reading books and was passionate about her job. Above all, Viv loved children especially her nephew Shawn and the loss of her son, Hawi had been devastating to her. She loved her family and friends and the book club.
I don’t know how to cope with her being gone. She was too young. I will miss her terribly.
Today on April 6th 2016, we laid Vivian to rest. I still can’t believe that this is happening. Not out Viv.