Eniyan o suwon l’aye, ta ba ku l’an d’ere
Humans appreciate too little, till death makes them a cold sculpture
Growing up, death or its objects terrified me a lot. Once I saw a coffin (the closest I saw till I lost my Dad and finally lost this phobia), I won’t be able to sleep for that night. There is this journey between Itutaba and Gate Ibadan that I had to do thrice in a week. Casket sellers litter around the streets, I kept my gaze straight, lest I had to look for Bode Shodeinde, a neighbourhood friend. Bode’s parents had a pharmacy and I would slip into his house late in the night to find “Valium 5”. I had to do this in secret because I would roam around the night, as sleep becomes a luxury.
I have learnt that when the grim reaper knocks the door of your friend or a very close relative, that fear is lost and all you are left to do is wail in and out and ponder on the vanity of life. How it bubbles! How it blows out like lather!
Opeyemi Adeseyoju was a friend . We met in Loyola College Ibadan. He had this sickle cell that you can see in him from afar. A bit of thin legs and hands, yellowish eyes and he also does measured walks. But, I see the vitality in him everyday.
I mean we walked around Ibadan, not short distances. We walked. We played stones and wrapped paper in the corridors. We giggled at girls with emerging evidences of adolescence. We lined at the NITEL office looking for used scratch cards on the floor, maybe there were unfinished units we could use to make calls.
We became closer right after secondary school. Ope had only one love – Manchester United.
He just wanted Man Utd to win it all. As a Chelsea fan, he stressed me everyday with our poor history back in 2005/2006. When I gained admission into the University, I just needed transport money to get to Ope’s house, he would find me the rest to get home.
My mum was always worried about him but when he visited us during the 2006 Christmas season, she thought he was crossing the threshold of the medical crisis.
“He will be fine”, she said.
On a sunny afternoon in January 2007, sitting on a wooden bench, I got that text from a mutual friend, Damilare Adepoju. “Ope is died”. The way it was written in error caught me in shock. How can Ope die? Last few days he came around and my Mum was in ecstasy after not seeing him for a long time.
I was shocked. I lost that fear of death. I owed him more than that fear. I went to Sango Cemetery to wish him goodbye. I found it hard to cry as his two sisters held on to me for fortitude. They knew no one who was more closer to him. I held the wooden casket with the thin underlying plywood almost dropping down. What a cheap casket for a human life! Till we dumped it in the soil, till we said goodbye.
I miss him and this arose my scare in sickle cell. As a carrier with the AS genotype, it guided my marital choices. I had to ask calmly at the start of any appearance of love if my partner carried the trait too. It is a fence I can’t cross in any thickset of love.
I have had two challenges in that regards recently and they were truly beautiful souls, great ladies. I had to let go despite the medical and spiritual options I was confronted with.
It was a touching end but I lived this torture, that a beautiful soul just flew away.
Till date, when I am bored at home in Ibadan and there is no football match to watch, I see that emptiness rising again. Sometimes, I roam around in Shoprite Ibadan, park my car and walk round but still at loss of what to do. Someone intimate is surely missing again and hasn’t been replaced – Opeyemi.
Opeyemi Adeseyoju 1985- 2007