So my father passed on months back and I had to pen down a tribute for print. You never prepare for these kinds of things. I mean, of course our parents would leave us someday. Supposedly, when they are wrinkly (to say the least) and not when you have barely started life. But then, death doesn’t give notifications. It just happens and you have to move on with life. I just really felt like putting some more of my thoughts down here Although the words to type have been in and out of my head every now and then, I think I best just start from somewhere.
Dearest dad, words cannot express how much void you have left in our hearts, or more personally, my heart. At different times, I catch myself with tears trickling slowly down my cheeks, especially when I am alone and as I lay on my bed to sleep at night. But more recently, I have found myself crying on the bus and to avoid people from looking at me, I simply turn to the window, when I am at that position, or more commonly, use my handkerchief to wipe my face ‘codedly.’ You know, like as though something got into my eyes.
Six days ago from today made it exactly three months since you left us here in this cold world. Have I gotten used to not having you around? NO. And I don’t think any additional second can change that feeling. I know I have to be strong, if not for myself, for my mum, especially. Everyone who has ever come to share their sympathy never fails to say so. I know this deep within already. But you see, that’s the easy part—knowing what do to. The ‘doing’ is where the real work is.
Even though I know that if you were to somehow say something to me, I know you would ask me to quit all the ‘childish’ crying and move on. LOL. Believe me when I say I am trying to. I really am. So far, my best tactic has been to think of you in the full and warm embrace of JESUS and you saying to me, “be there worrying yourself, I am enjoying myself here.” Because that’s the sort of thing you would say. When I let that thought in, the tears stop flowing almost immediately and I get back to doing what I was doing.
It’s not being easy and I have been really avoiding reminiscing both several funny events and the events surrounding that cold day—the 18th of September. I also remember the times your words gave me a confidence boost. The way I would feel just because you had something to say about a situation. I remember that one time I came home crying from school (back in secondary school). My classmate, in an attempt to get at me in a heated argument, called me “bread head.” I had cut my hair (annoyingly low, thanks to you) and she found the shape of my head funny and just came up with that phrase. I was so pained and felt defeated. So as soon as school was over, I walked home briskly, angry, and with the subtle intention of reporting the matter in a way that you would feel guilty. You simply smiled and said, “Don’t mind them. So you don’t know they are jealous of you. You are free and they are not, that’s why she said that.” And like every of such scenario, I felt the anger vanish, denying myself of the initial plan.
I also remember when the barber would come over to give us all a haircut. How much I dreaded cutting my hair—your style. It was bad enough that you insisted that I go to school on a low-cut but not allowing me choose the height was going too far for me. When it would get to my turn, I would sometimes pretend to be asleep or too busy with chores to come for a cut, and just like each time, you would send for me and I would have no other choice than to come and take a sit. In so many occasions, I would wait till you had left me alone with the barber so I could tell him to do it my way, but no, you always showed up to change things. Whenever I tried to let you see reasons why my choice wasn’t bad at all, you would go on, saying things like, “you don’t need this hair. It is a distraction. Don’t you see Ezekwesili, Okonjo and co, they know it isn’t important. And look at where they are today. Don’t worry, cut it low now and get what you want first, then later, you can do whatever you like. If you like fix the one that will go from your head to your toe, nobody will ask you questions. But for now, leave it low.” I always tried to argue that point and defend it, knowing that a lot of the ‘brainy ones’ at school had long, full hair. And LIKE ALWAYS, after the deed is done, you would look at me and say, “Just look at your fine skull. See what you are hiding. You have a very great skull but you don’t know.” ‘GREAT’ SERIOUSLY??? And sometimes, you would even go as far as talking to my siblings about it while pointing at me and they (which are the worst to ask for opinions from) would agree with you while laughing on the side.
As I type, it’s Christmas eve and honestly, it doesn’t feel like it. Christmas can never be the same again—other days even. You made each day fun and lively. You had such an adventurous spirit which showed in everything you did. You were also very open to giving new things a try with a good number of them being just plain funny and highly unusual because they always left me thinking: Are you supposed to be doing that? Particularly your ‘kitchen inventions.’ I remember that one time I walked into the kitchen and saw you holding the toaster in a pressed down position. As I came closer, trying to see what was so huge that you couldn’t just close it and let it do its job, I soon realized you had actually placed a couple of yam slices. You simply laughed and went on with it. Like it was normal. Hilarious! And that toaster actually didn’t work again after your yam was ready to eat. SMH.
You left me with so many wonderful memories and that’s what’s causing the most hurt. As a family, we had like an unlikely relationship, somewhat “weird” as my roommates often described it but they didn’t need to understand. It didn’t matter that we don’t speak on phone from time to time, especially when I was away at school, or sit to talk about stuff. I cherish every single years of my life growing up because I had you. You taught me so much that I cannot begin to list them, even the most basic things like how to pound pepper using a mortar—without noise, by the way. LOL. I remember that day when I was in the kitchen, pounding so loud, and you came downstairs, sat me down and asked me to watch you do it “the right way.”. “Target the seeds, forget the outer part,” you said, “You don’t need all that noise you are making.” And that day marked the end of ‘noisemaking’ in the kitchen for me.
Rather than grieve, I choose to be thankful to God for choosing you to be my father. Though it still feels like I have lost my guardian angel. All of the lessons you taught me and particularly on the subject of prayer—that there’s nothing better than having a relationship with God. Even though I would grudgingly wake up whenever you came to call us for our usual midnight prayers, you never stopped nudging. And when you would catch me dozing off in the chapel, you would say, “if only you knew what it means for you to wake up at this hour to pray to your God and what you are doing for yourself…”
You were so devoted to God and in doing good deeds that I have no doubt that your success in life, even though it was a short one, was because of your stand with God. You achieved so much in such a short time. I remember one of my aunts, like many others, who shared stories of your humble beginnings. During our conversation, she shared with me how a colleague of yours once planned to blackmail you, “an incident if it hadn’t been for God’s intervention,” she said, “would have left you at rock bottom” and probably for life, as it was drug-related. She ended by telling me that she wanted me to know that God had always fought your battles for you and I should never forget and begin to think the enemy had his way with your demise. She helped reaffirm my belief that all that has happened has God’s mark on it. Like mum would say, your enemies have been trying to get you for a long time and God has been helping you dodge their bullets but now God has decided that enough is enough and called you to him. And I couldn’t agree more. I did witness some of the attacks, particularly back in 2009, but God has been and will always remain faithful.
It’s just sad that I never had the chance to say these words to you in person but I know that actions already spoke them, even louder. I know so. I could go on and on but I know words won’t be enough to talk about what a great father, confidant and mentor you were to me.
And just like in my tribute to you, I believe my life—our lives as your children—will be the ultimate tribute to you. I pray that we will continue with the great legacy you left behind and also become all that you envisioned us to become.
ADIEU DADDY, CONTINUE TO REST IN THE BOSOM OF THE LORD.