On Thursday the 7th of February 2013, my friend passed away. I wrote something for him on my column Atoke's Monday Morning Banter on BellaNaija. It was published on the 11th of February.
How do you write a banter piece when your heart is in shreds? How do you dig deep into yourself and write a funny, light-hearted piece on a Monday morning when you’ve been walking in a cloud of hurt, confusion and grief for the past 4 days?
I had just finished writing the BN Hot Topic on Thursday morning when I received a text message that my friend had passed on. Shock? Is that what I felt? I don’t know. I can’t completely describe what I felt in that moment. He’d been ill you see, with what the doctors had said was terminal but no amount of fore-knowledge prepares you for that which hits you. So I said to myself “he’s gone to a place where there’s no more pain, no more visits to the A&E, no more drugs. He’s gone to a place of peace”
But you see, as much as I said this to myself, my tears didn’t stop flowing.
“How are you holding up?”
“I’m fine oh! He’s in a better place” Like a robot, I’ve been responding, partly to get people to stop asking and partly because I know it’s true.
“Focus on the happy memories. Don’t think about him in past tense. Write. If it’ll make you feel better, write”
So, I’m doing just that. My friend, Muyiwa, always made me laugh. When I was in Law School, we would talk for hours on the phone about anything and everything. We shared a love for Lagbaja’s music and we’d argue for hours; him constantly bashing Nigeria as a failed state and me trying feebly to defend it. He would doggedly defend his religious belief and constantly call me a baby Christian, content on feeding on just milk. I’d call him “Paitor” and he’d call me “Omo’jo”. He called me razz, I said he was a fake guy!
I love Muyiwa with all of my heart. I haven’t come to terms with the use of past tense. I’m not sure I ever will because he’d forever be the personification of love, devotion and strength. As he battled the illness, we’d chat endlessly. There was NOT one time when he gave up the fight and boy did he FIGHT. When a man in his 30s is diagnosed with a terminal illness, he goes through different stages of acceptance and not once did Muyiwa throw in the towel. He’d tell me when he was delirious with pain and when he was strong enough to ogle the nurses. He’d share his fears and his pains but not once did he lose sight of positivity.
As I got on the train to see him in over the holidays, I was afraid that I’d see a weak and frail person so I braced myself for it. I was determined to be strong for him and be as cheery as possible. When I got to the door of the house, I nearly reeled back in shock. He had become darker and looked years beyond his age.
“Lord, how will I NOT start bawling?”
I spent almost 9 hours there and not once did I cry. I spent the day laughing and joking with my friend. He ate, slept, watched TV and it was a great day.
“I love you very much, you know?” He said to me in a voice that was barely audible as he fought the morphine-induced sleep.
“I love you too, Roy”
You see, love is such a powerful drug: that pure, true and un-adultered love; the kind that makes you give your all without question. It is one emotion that I am thankful that I have experienced. It is one thing that I always pray that more people will share because it truly makes the world a better place. It is one emotion which needs to be constantly expressed AND shown in order for it to be effective.
So as you celebrate Valentine ’s day this week, and as you go out to buy those gifts for that special somebody, remember that love is a lifetime feeling. It’s not limited to that one day but something that must constantly be expressed and shown. Love should be true and real because you really don’t know how much time you have left.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been hurt before, it is an emotion that is so powerful that with it, we really can change the world.
Tell someone you love them today, show them how much you care and believe it.
Love, peace and cupcakes.
*This Monday Morning’s Banter is dedicated to my Booskie, Baba Esie; Olumuyiwa Aroyeun Oyewunmi. For every lesson you taught me, for encouraging me to do more and be more, for being there to fight with, for being there to share new music with, for being my friend over and over. I ‘love you jeje, love you tender’.