For almost a month, I have stayed away from writing any articles, trying so hard to stay in the shadows. If you read my somewhat philosophical New Year’s Day article, you may have looked into the mind of a person considering the possibility of a new operating principle. However, some things have the zest to fall even the best-arranged stack of cards.
Just over a month ago, on 20 December 2017, as the Christmas season was entering its top gear, I got a message from my brother asking if I heard about the death of a close cousin. The message confounded me as she wasn’t the kind of person I would consider dead. I quickly called each of my parents, as if bilateral confirmation could somehow shred my brother’s message. Alas, it was confirmed. She had died that morning, from as yet unknown causes. Having earlier complained of discomfort, she died on reaching a hospital.
Why do I even feel so hurt to want to devote an article to her? While she and I may not have bonded like a welded joint, the glue was there, maybe a superglue-imitation joint. Two scions of the Fiberesima clan, we had finished primary school at the same time and found ourselves in prestigious federal schools. While she got into the agreeably more prestigious Queens College Lagos, I was shipped into Federal Government College Port Harcourt. Then we finished and discovered we both chose the same university, Obafemi Awolowo University, hundreds of kilometres away from our Port Harcourt base.
At OAU, while I pretended to be a serious student, she was more of an academically-sound socialite. As Valentine’s Day 2009 approached, knowing my then extremely single state, she urged me to buy a movie ticket to go watch The Notebook. When I refused to buy a ticket, she got one for me, plunged it into my hand and ordered her barely senior cousin to have his first cinema experience. I missed an important church event that evening, but if I were to go back in time, I would still tell my pastor to expect me another day.
At her funeral service, I thought about the fun-loving lady who a few weeks back talked with me about plans to get a scholarship for a foreign master’s degree programme. As clips of her life were projected and the tears began, I looked at the crying assembly, entirely female. Maybe the men had been trained to hide emotions and like me, had even forgotten how to cry. However, whether we cried or not, we all processed grief, alongside unbelief cum anger that a sweet lady could be cut short that young. My mind screamed, “I should be at her wedding, not her funeral!”
As her coffin was lowered into the ground, a hymn was song. Its refrain goes thus:
Only remembered, only remembered,
Only remembered by what we have done;
Thus we would pass from the earth and its toiling,
Only remembered by what we have done
For me, being remembered for good is too important. She may have lived a short life, but in that time, she made some impact and surely had lots of fun. From writing poetry, to blogging, to photography, to her job as a media professional, and her love of adventure, she lived life. As Marcus Cicero would say, “The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living”. She lived well. That for us, is a consolation.
Adieu Denni. At 25, you were too young to die.