It has been a very long time since I called someone that and know that it is real. God has the title, but no one in flesh has been my figure for absolute burden-carrier.
Today is the 5th of October, 2018; a day that will otherwise have been your 60th birthday. This evening, while conversing with mum, I tried to picture what the order of events of today would have been. It is likely that you will not have had a party; we all know you don’t like parties, you may be pleased to know that the three of your children do not like them either; the superficial social events are exhausting. Looking back to your 50th birthday, I imagine that you’d prefer a modest celebration at a preferred restaurant with close-knit ties; those who actually matter to you.
In three months, it will be nine years since you stopped being in flesh. A lot has changed in nine years. It is hard to remember one thing that is the same. The environment has changed and so have we. The only part of my family that I didn’t get to see develop in these past years is you. My mental pictures of you stop at my highly strategic, assertive and vibrant middle-aged father. I remember your face; it spoke of firmness and upheld philosophy. The dark skin accented by your shimmering eyes, large nose and full lips. Your height resembled a pillar; one I literally looked up to, my head level must have been around your belly. That fact that you were slim and built (or staunch) gave more reason for my comparison of you with a pillar; you were my pillar.
I remember how hard you worked and how committed you were to my education; I never knew what it was to be late on a school fees payment. And there were the Sundays I came to sit on your bed tasking you for my pocket money; your little girl demanding her weekly pay which she was entitled to because you were responsible for her. And whenever there was a price change, I would give you an update for a budget review, “Daddy, Indomie is no longer 20 naira, it is now 25 naira, money for Indomie for the week is 125 naira”. You paid up and I went ahead to spend according to my daily budget. Sometimes “Indomie money” was used for chips, Sports wafers or my favourite combo of Biscao biscuit and Darling Chocolate. I can only laugh back at the memory now.
I also remember my money schemes during secondary school. The good times my purse used to be full with money I wasn’t going to spend, yet had billed you for. I felt rich looking at my notes and wise, knowing I was going to save them. I took walks with friends and carpooled when I could, also cut my expenditure on snacks, all because having savings gave more satisfaction. You knew I wasn’t going to spend the money but it was my right so you had to pay it anyway. You even supported by randomly giving me money to add to my savings. Saving was a thing with us.
Every time I am around the Ikeja post office, I remember our consistent Sunday visits. Sundays were days everyone else was typically away and unless you were home, I was alone for hours. Because I was bored, I would respond a bright yes to your invitation to go with you to the post office to pick your mails. I found the place boring but it was an opportunity to “hang-out” with you and you frequently compensated me with “guguru” and “epa” sold by the women at the entrance. It was cool. Sort of.
I was at Sheraton Hotel recently and told a friend of how you spontaneously took me there for my first time. You asked, “have you ever been to Sheraton?” I said no. Then you said, let’s go. We got there, walked to the restrooms, used them and left! Hahahahaha. Your point was to break the jinx, that I know Sheraton wasn’t a place that was only for an exclusive set of people. That I hadn’t been there did not mean I didn’t have the access. Another funny memory is my first visit to The Palms at Lekki; the day we had a talk about the likely problems of the sand-filled areas. I’d spare that gist.
I intended on sharing with you the changes that have occurred since 2010 but this letter has gotten lengthy enough, I’d write another. I am glad my letter came around to be a string of memories with a happy tone. They made me smile and laugh aloud. It is now 11:59 PM and I am at the end of the day that could have been your 60th birthday with a smile.
Cheers to more life, joy and goodness for the family you left behind.
Your Last Born,