Jerry Chiemeke
3 min readDec 25, 2023


Stashing Memories In Tiny Capsules Of Time, or When You’re Bereft Of Photos For A Memorial

On this day in the year 2000, some overzealous kid thought it wise to throw Christmas crackers across the fence into our compound.

That decision changed my life forever.

The singular full photo of my mother in existence. Image Credit: Random Photographer.

My mother has been gone for almost three times as long as I've known her: 23 years almost add up to six World Cup editions and the intervals between.

The part of loss we don’t talk about is how the images of the departed are slowly erased from our memory, year after year. If you were unlucky to have had them leave this world before the age of smartphones, that means very few pictures...especially when all the photo frames in the living room were carted away right after the funeral. (This one is all I’ve got left.)

I could mull over the whole thing like I'm still nine years old, watching my mother gasp for air, naked on the floor by 4.17am on a Christmas Monday morning...or i could dive into the tiny pockets of memory and recount the things that made her one of the greatest women that ever lived (my opinion).

My mother was devout, the kind to sprinkle anointing oil and holy water when a cat ran past the street. She knew how to run a business too: she owned a thriving supermarket at our neck of the woods which she built from nothing. There is every chance that she would have been mega-rich if she lived longer; she was that driven. She already got a Toyota Celica and mastered driving in less than six days.

Veronica was also the kind to whip you for coming home injured from a fight, before applying Robb or Aboniki to the wound. Her disciplinary style was a balancing act to compliment my dad’s calm demeanour and gentle approach to parenting. She is probably the reason I don’t smoke (tobacco): I still see her snatching an unlit St. Moritz from my four-year-old mouth.

For some reason, my father had this group photo hid away somewhere.

Whenever i talk about my trajectory as a creative, i usually quip that my mom wasn’t too supportive, and that it was my dad who bought novels during my childhood. But I see my mother in certain things I do now. She was a form teacher, and we used to bond over marking CRS and English Language scripts. So these days when I’m teaching a class, or mentoring someone, I take a moment, I see the pattern, and I nod into the air.

On my 31st birthday last year, an aunt remarked in the lines of "if your mom was here, you’d be married by now." I sneered and replied, "have you seen the streets??"

But what i acknowledge was that we didn’t stay together long enough for me to understand her love. The conversations hadn’t developed to that point, except maybe pointing out some malevolence in a Nollywood flick. Maybe that’s what makes the absence harder, the feeling of what could have been, the goodbyes unsaid; the points at 16, 23 or 29 where you needed perspective and there was no one there.

So, here's to random access memories, here's to capsules of time, and here's to honouring every minute of the 116 months + 24 days during which i enjoyed the privilege of being the (second) son of a badass woman.

I guess the lesson here is to document every moment shared with the people you care about. Take that photo, record that goofy video, upload those voice notes to the iCloud, just be sure to capture those joyful stills and stash them away in digital boxes where they won’t corrode.

If you have been able to read to this point, here is me saying Happy Holidays to you and yours. May you be overwhelmed by light, warmth, and the brightest skies.



Jerry Chiemeke

Writer-Journalist. Editor. Ex-Lawyer. Critically-acclaimed Author and Film Critic. Contact via