Lifestyle & Relationships

To My Only Friend Who is Gone on a Voyage of Death

Country of Origin: Nigeria

Enoch standing next to his friend
(Image courtesy of Enoch)

Many, at times, think we see a ray of hope to comfort our emotions and whittle down the volcanic cloud of our sadness. But unfortunately, our sense of love and compassion ends up overwhelming the strength to prevent tears. 

For to cry is not to mourn, but to weep is to truly mourn, as it is written that even our Lord wept. 

The beauty of death is that the life the deceased lived will become an amusing experience and sensation for us, to remind us that someday, we will end up as someone else’s amusing experience and sensation.

Do you know where the best cinema is? Found in the euphoria of memories of any event in the mind of a person who is nursing an ambition of good or bad memories of an event. The vividness of such memories is worth more than a setup of an Opera House or performance at a Pit-theater (just like the AwoVarsity Theatre).

Tonight, I am seated outside, on the veranda, hearing the stillest sounds of air, looking at the clouds being separated and fussed over.

Suddenly, the thoughts of my late friend, Hajj Ibn Abubakar struck me. The air around me grew a little cold, colder I should say even. My body let go of the goosebumps for a while as the air became a little wind that whispered a few words to me. They reminded me that no matter what, the goodwill of my late friend still connects with my inner bond whenever I remember him.

I searched my inner man to ask Hajj Ibn Abubakar some questions; then I remembered it was just the memories and his goodwill that spoke. Hajj is long gone to queue up again as one of the silent children from the constellation of stars.

Hajj, my very good friend, was quite older. Yet, he bonded with me; you’d never think he wasn’t my blood. But he became my blood through the nights and plights of the ‘streets’ so much he earned the name, ‘Emperor, the Cross leader of the Streets even to the Moon and Stars.”I called him ‘captain streets’ towards the end of our real life relationship.

It was at Ipetumodu that we met. I wore black all through, as you might say, from head to toe, with my black shirt having several fire symbols. He strolled into my “base” with three guys. Everyone greeted him with a little bowing while hailing him while I turned my back a little, pretending I was typing a message on my Nokia 6600. 

One of his boys, named Tunde, who later became a follower of one of the ideological groups on Awo Varsity campus but later became a member of a fascist reactionary fraternity, shouted, “Eh oh boy, Paale dey call you.”

I was shocked when I heard a thunderous slap on Tunde. Hajj said, “You sabi who this oga bi? You see people wey young like this amidst these big chests, yet na only am wear full regalia, oh boi I don’t want war here.” 

I still didn’t flinch. I turned to him and sang one of my father’s favorite songs, which says, “Kosi agbara to da bi ti Jesu” that is, no power like that of Jesus. 

They all laughed, and Hajj said, “I am Hajj, son of Abubakar. I’m a trained intelligence officer, and I speak Hausa/Fulani, Igbo, Yoruba, Classical Arabic, French, English, and a little Spanish.”

At that point, I smiled, and I said to him, “My name is Aanuoluwapo; I’m from Ibadan.” I said nothing else to him. 

I beckoned him to come over, and he followed me to my room, which I shared with Ransome, Damilola, Lateef, Gaffar, and Sola. He saw my church’s calendar. He saw my father’s picture on it and asked me why I didn’t say that I was this Baba’s son. I replied that he didn’t ask me initially. 

But Hajj said, “Deny a thousand times, but your eyes and face have given you away. More so, you speak like him.” At that point, I was confused. Hajj further said, “See I know this true man of God, it was when my favorite sister got to his church in the 90s that her womb was opened. And I have never missed his church programs on tv and radio since. And anytime I get the chance to watch him in Lagos or Ibadan.”

I was silent, too quiet. Shock or surprise? 

Hajj then said, one thing I believe is this that today is a remarkable day, “Aanu, I believe you will be kind to me just as your father’s God was kind to my sister through your father. It was such a heavy statement and trust. I tried to mumble some words, only for me to say, ‘may God bless abundantly.” Then he said amen. 

I explained to him not to reveal anything about my true identity; in his words, he said, “Not even on my deathbed except you give me the order.” I laughed, and he saluted me. 

And that was how the beginning of this bond of friendship was struck on the blade of fraternal love and brotherhood. An inside joke between Hajj and myself sometimes was, “Inseparable son of a Christian Minister and son of an Islamic Cleric.”

I remember how he used to call me a creature of the night. I was never scared of walking at night. In fact, he used to be angry that I preferred taking the cemetery road as a shortcut to get to his side. I used to tell him that someday, ours too will scare others. You’re the only friend I ever had, Hajj Abubakar. Indeed Abiku is true. I remember how you felt when I discussed reincarnation and powerful people with strong spirits. Now, you’re the one whom we discussed over 15 years ago. I know you are here, and you never left; but for this space suit called flesh, let it continue to rest.

Hajj, you came visiting through the telepathic lens of dreams a few days ago. I forgot to tell you how I’ve written a Yoruba drama that is dedicated to you, and I titled it OJU-DUDU. I hope and know that many generations will read your name in this forthcoming book (Oju-Dudu).

I remember you said I’ll be alive while you leave for the world beyond. All your words about how I’ll battle “peculiar” issues have happened. You reminded me to be so strong, even over my emotions. I hope I will face any circumstances. You said, “Aanu, your father is favored by God, but as your name implies, you’ve received God’s mercy.” 

Hajj, it is true. I’ve survived many instances that should have stopped my mortal suit of flesh. I wish you called me that day; it is because of you I still pick unknown numbers till date. You’re from the far end side. I’m from the long downside. You’re a core Muslim, and I? A Christian! Yet you encouraged me never to miss my fellowship days and time. You would call me Sheriff, and I, in turn, used to call you Brother Paul. It didn’t matter to us. We were just happy as brothers. None of my family knew you; none of your family knew me. We were too concerned with life and spirituality.

My friend. My only bosom friend. I miss all we used to do; you would have spoken to me about my plans for the year now. You used to tell me I’m not like every other person. You’d tell me just to wait till God gives me whatever I deserve in life. Hajj, rest well so we can play on the circumference of the air again someday.

Thank you to Cherechi Ugwuegbulam and Julianna Wages for their inspired edit on this piece and everyone else on the Lifestyle & Relationships team.

If you are interested in submitting a piece to the DG Sentinel, please visit our submissions page here.

Enouch Ojotisa is a widely gifted creative who currently lives in Nigeria. He is a published poet, writer, lawyer, OAP, voice-over artist, digital Artist, Afro-Jazz musician, historian, public speaker, and a Christian. Enouch Ojotisa can be reached by email at enochojotisa@gmail.com.

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