Obiora Okeke called me last week thursday. I was supposed to arrange reference letters for admission into the university of Salford (UK) from 2 lecturers at the department and I had actually been dragging my foot about. It wasn’t the first time since he had called and really on that thursday I did not have a good excuse to give. Anyway I have the reference letters signed and stamped and ready to be sent but Obiora Okeke is gone. He left uinexpectedly on Wednesday (27th) before I could send it.
I don’t remember the first time we met in those heady and now hazy days of our freshmen year. He was one of those with whom I just naturally parleyed up with without introduction: we were both Lagos boys, he went to Federal Ijaniki and I went to K.C. and we both had a liking for sport more especially football. We were not actually the tightest pals as such but he was one of those friends whom I would find myself hanging out with at the back of NSLT or in front of 226 before a geol. 111 class or several times in his room at flats (I considered him rather unlucky at the time; and a hard man too). I remember he had plans to go abroad at the time; though it ended up not working out. With similar surnames we usually sat around one another along with other usual suspects during exams.
I remember that he was one who never got angry in a noisy way. He was what one would describe as cool but on close observation certainly not melancholic.
It was in 300 level that we really began to be close…Actually that was the time most of us in the class of 2007 generally got close. I remember the Geol 351 trips to Afikpo and Akwanga. We shared seats and his discman on those tightly packed trips. He was among the ‘gang’ who, thinking it was my first time taking alcohol, were bent on my getting drunk on that rainy night at Afikpo (we share a beer and he paid for a bottle of don Simon…The Rascal!); to the consternation of some of my more sober classmates.
The memories of our final year are too many to recount here: finishing exams formula one style, the final days of sleepless night trying to finish up our projects at his house ( despite being distracted by Chitis bread and Everybody Hates Chris).
We haven’t seen in almost to years but we were still in contact from my NYSC in Oyo to his NYSC in Abuja to that reference letter for the M.Sc. in Gas Enginnering at the University of Salford.
They say that when you are young you get to attend the birthday parties of your friends, later it’s their weddings and later in life their funerals. I’m supposed to be at the wedding stage. To attend funeral of a friend now…
Some consoling words from the liturgy of the Holy Mass for the dead
Lord, for your faithful people life is changed, not ended. When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven
(Preface for Christian Death I)
Death is not the end. For me this death came too early, but in reality no death comes to early or too late but precisely on time. Now the grief is too near and too deep to bear. But for him life is changed to LIFE. And now i have a friend on the other side of life. Rest in peace.