While He Sleeps

Born in 1974 in Cotonou.

Came to the city for a better life.

Gained admission to study political science in the university.

Dropped out.

Through a church member, decided to train to be a videographer.

Life was good again.

Even created an IMDB profile.

Went back to his home town.

Started life as a full grown man.

Total independence. Total hard work. Total hustle.

A woman and 2 kids come along.

I visit home sometime in 2012. I see him, we talk about a project I want to do with him about my grandfather. His father. We even gave it a name.

The Biafran old soldier.

Some days later. I’m back in India. I search for his Facebook ID. It would have made our communication cheaper.

I can not find it.

I find his IMDB page instead. I read all the credits to his name.

Unbelievable. I smile. Yet angry that I can’t find his Facebook ID, as the Hare Krishnas chant to my hearing.

My creative mind imagines a scenario where the both of us accept an Oscar for our documentary. An uncle and niece duo we would be called. Making Nigeria proud.

Or so I thought.

December 5th 2013. Invitation to his traditional marriage slated for the 7th of December 2013. The family is happy.

December 27th 2013. I am in the kitchen washing plates. Dad’s phone rings –

“Tell me it is not true! When?! How?!”

The phone call ends.

Dad stands by the kitchen door.

“Oputa is dead. His boat capsized last night.”

I say “okay” and continue with the dishes.

Dad’s words are on repeat in my mind. I still feel nothing.

A few hours later…

I get into the bathroom, turn on the shower and then it hit me. I did my silent cry. Unnoticeable. Even the mirror didn’t know I was crying as the tears mixed with the water.

It was only last night that I re-imagined us doing our Oscar speech.

I search for his Facebook ID, again.

I find it.

His profile picture carries that smile that says not to worry about anything.

Tributes on his wall.

The tears start again.

This time it has sunk in.

Just to be sure, I click the ‘Add As Friend’ button.

My request has still not been accepted.


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