Its three years ago today that we watched his polished brown bed as it was slowly lowered into the ground. I stared at the faces of all my relatives present and wondered why no one would make a move to stop what was about to happen, though I knew deep down that it was inevitable. I kept my hand on the bed until it was lower than my reach, I was the last to touch it. I sobbed throughout his lying in state, he had really changed. I gave a speech promising to keep his memory alive by emulating his patriotic and kind deeds before I threw my dust. With every heap of sand shoveled unto the bed as it lay in the ground, the force shook it and I wondered if the noise would wake him up.
I had only seen him for the first time in six years , four months before this sad day.
I remembered the times I spent asking him several questions as a talkative child and he patiently replied every single one of them with a loving smile on his face. I even challenged him once, saying “I can speak french, can you?… Okay ask me what my name is in french!”. This was just a mask for the fear instilled in me by my aunts and mum. They had told me how Grand dad was very strict with them as they grew up. I guess in my small mind, that was the easiest way to show him I was also tough and in fact tougher for knowing french more than he did! I remembered the advice he gave me when he asked if I was first in my class and I told him I was not. I can not forget how he always remembered the faces of those he posed for photographs with. He remembered their names and the occasion no matter how long ago. How can I forget the way his face would light up and his tone of voice would change to ask”is that so?” As something interesting caught his ear. I always told those who cared to know of all his political achievements. I was too proud of him and I hope someday my Grandchildren would feel the same. Its still a wonder how though he was pretty wealthy and had only one son he refused to bend to the pressure of taking another wife. You need to hear his daughters ,i.e my aunts and mum, speak about him. See how they beam with so much pride!
For some reason, I did not see him for six whole years! I finally did the August before he died. something inside of me did not want to leave him. I sat with him for a while one day and I was determined to have a conversation with him I reminded him who I was and he remembered. I was happy inside but he was not the same. My once active Grand dad who would jog up and down his two storey building every morning was now using a walking stick! He even had to be reminded who I was… Wow. I returned to school and like anyone who loved their family I prayed for them. And on the 20th of October 2009, as recorded in my prayer journal, I prayed for my grandpa specifically. A few weeks after I got a call from my mum requesting that I write a tribute for my Grand dad because a party was being organised in his honour. I wrote the tribute, as I did ,for some reason, I kept tearing up. When I got home for Christmas holiday I was greeted with the news that my Grand dad had ‘slept’ a day before I specifically mentioned him in my prayers.
This day three years ago, as I wore a gele for the first time in my life , I bade my grandpa Senator Basil Charles Okwu farewell. I cried so much because from that very day I was already seeing how life would go on like such a wonderful person never existed and how he would have left a void in our hearts but he would be gone anyway. I also saw how to the funeral home in charge of the burial, it was just another burial bur to us, he definitely is not ‘just another dead person’…
unforgettable, that’s what he is.