1st December, 1995
So it has been like what five years that I penned this down? Five since I saw your smile. That one that reached your eyes. The one that was practically etched, like paper mash, on your ever happy face. No matter your mood.
Dear Tasie, Mama removed your bedsheets from your room today. She did it before your memorial service. So it won’t get dust, she said. After five harmattans. I didn’t think there was anything but dust on those sheets. But I didn’t think she’d have wanted to hear that though. It’s funny she said it finally. I didn’t want to be the one to remove it. Or anything of yours for that matter. You remember it right? The one that was patterns and square shapes and that ridiculous cobalt blue that you loved on everything. It kinda reminds me of Soma’s soaked blue shirt. Because during the service, Soma cried. Like really cried. Papa just looked at Mama all through. I guess he was hoping that she won’t break down like red-eyed Soma.
We had biscuits and sweets. Soma insisted it should be your favourite- Speedy Cookies and goodie goodie. We all agreed. Mama couldn’t have any because of her sugar problem but everyone didn’t mind. We just sat on the grass and talked of what we missed the most about you. I for one said that I missed jokes and the way you talked and your occasional naughtiness which everyone agreed they missed and your disjointed poetry that never had rythm but which you incessantly wrote.
Soma said she missed your shower head and your “absolutely beautiful” singing voice. Pun intended. Mama said that she loved the way you always knew what someone wanted. Like literally. And had a knack for finding anything nobody else could find. We all agreed to this. Papa looked at all of us calmly when it was his turn. Quiet Papa. He told of how, when you were two, you ran into the room and demanded for the keys when you saw him complaining about his flat tyre. He had changed the tyres, he told you but you stamped your feet and in your baby voice demanded for the keys clearly unconvinced. He did the whole imitation thing which made us to laugh so hard that I got the hiccups. You wanted to fix it, he said finally. Like you wanted fix everything else. That was when he knew you were something truly special. And that was when Soma broke down in tears and then again in ripples when we went to your graveside. “He who seeks will find, he who asks will not only receive but will be saved from deceit.” I guess it didn’t really mean much but it was the only poem of yours that actuality rhymed a little so we put it on your gravestone when we went there.
It wasn’t all mysterious and foggy, your grave, like the ones they show on TV are. It was ordinary. And it pained me. Everything was. Ordinary dirt, ordinary grass, ordinary breeze. Nature is truly blind sometimes. Nothing in all of the entire universe could really capture the extraordinariness of the boy that lay within it. Wild sunflowers, their petals the width of kobo coins, were peeking out of the edges, a bouquet of about five flowers, beside your gravestone.I couldn’t help but feel that they were growing out of you, sapping your life, stuffing your eyes and crushing your jugular with manure from your lungs. It made me queasy and I was glad when we left soon after, far removed from nature’s cruel joke.
Mama cooked Ogbono soup with Eba later in the afternoon. We sat it in the back porch, with the cane seats, and looked at the mango trees as the sun travelled quietly down the horizon on its home. Mama was flipping her hair. The way she did when she comes out to get air or is looking at something she likes. She was looking at your fingerprints, from your very first art assignment. To paste painted leaves on a sheet. We all took turns, soaking our hands in poster colour generously and “palming” the trees instead. Even Papa was there, laughing like he had no cares.
After that evening, it was not just five palms that was left behind. It was not a trail of zigzagging uneven colourful hands that stayed on that tree’s trunk. It was a constant reminder of your existence of your transient involvement, even when the trees rings and would eventually cover it up. Even if it was chopped up and used for wood or paper or whatever. It would be a testament, that like spiky splinters would get stuck in the very core of memory. And she would always remember it, as will I. Always and for all times. We all ate our food in silence. I think this is the first time I actually missed your grunts of relish. Those loud grunts that always made Papa want to slap you. I looked at everyone’s face. Even after five years, I think they missed it too.
Dear Tasie, How’s the moon? Does it have all those crevices you thought it did? With the cheese-butter filling? And custard flavouring? It would be selfish to say this but I think I miss you the most. I still see you in my dreams after all. Shouting. Chasing after your ball. Cajoling me to come and play.I always wake up sweating when I’m about to answer your call. As if it’s nature’s reminder that I missed your last game. It’s funny how you could still be here after so long, living, breathing in everything. I wish you were really here. Though I think it’s really dope that you’ll see the next satellite launch. And rocket- action. You did love space. It’s pretty grand that you get a front seat to all the action.
Sniffling and missing,