I Saw Him Again

Eben entered my room. He was carrying a bag on his back and a broad smile on his face. “Baba na,” I said. “At last, you come.”

“Walahi, traffic no gree.” He dropped his bag on the stool and asked for something cold. I opened my fridge for him. “Kai, your fridge full o.”

“Na package.”

“This one pass package o.” He took a bottle of LaCasera. “How is Chika?”

I smiled. In campus, Eben would run into me and Chika seated by some kiosk eating buns with LaCasera and dreading some deadline. “She is fine.”

“You suppose marry that girl o.”

“She pass my power.”

“Stories.” Eben sat down.

I looked at his bag and tried to guess what was in there. Someone’s ongoing project, a copy of Ben Okri or Chimamanda, a poetry book, his laptop, his student’s assignments, a flash drive. Etc.

He took a sip. His mouth was wet with stories. We have a lot of catching up to do. I didn’t even know where to start. Politics. The delay in appointing ministers, Atiku’s petition, the Supreme Court ruling on Davido’s uncle, the drama in NASS. Sports. Women World Cup, Super Eagles AFCON journey, Lampard in Chelsea; Arsenal, all. Marriage. When will you settle down? I saw a girl on your Whatsapp DP: Is she the one or do we expect the coming of another?

We have a lot to discuss. Eben sipped from the bottle. I couldn’t wait. I can’t wait. 

“Guy, put CNN na.”

I reached for the remote. I wanted to say something mean about Trump but decided against it. Not now, Trump should be the last thing we talk about, the AOB aspect of our discussion. There are more important gists.

Richard Quest was talking on the TV. Smart dude, Quest. Not that smart. He may be that smart but not today, not in the presence of Eben. I watched Eben. He wasn’t nodding to what the presenter was saying which meant the presenter wasn’t making sense. I said it, he isn’t that smart.

As I made to sit down, two things happened. Car tyres screeched then crashed in a blast that shook the windows of my sitting room. “Accident,” I said. Eben’s phone began to ring. He snatched the phone out of his pocket as though it was live coal and snapped to his feet. “It’s important,” he said. He opened the door.

“Your drink–”

Eben slammed the door behind him and left me in a state of confused surprise, left behind a whiff of sadness. He left his bag behind. But the bag wasn’t here. It had disappeared. The bag was never here. Ebenezer was never here. I was dreaming while wide awake. I saw him but I didn’t see him. I may see him again but I will never see Eben again.

Eben passed away exactly this day two years ago. It was a painful event, his death. It still echoes with disbelief and rings bitter sorrows in my heart whenever I remembered my dear friend and mentor. He came back to my life today. I saw him, we talked, we sat together, we watched TV together. We had more to talk about then he suddenly stood up and walked away from my life forever. He forgot to say goodbye.

Rest in Peace, bro.

You may wish to see the First tribute for Eben and then the one-year remembrance tribute.