Nigeria Can’t Touch You Now.
He died. My friend died. A few years ago, my friend and I both jumped into the fire escape in our dormitory. Both of us were avoiding the fury of seniors who wanted us to do manual labour as it is accustomed every weekend. But I wasn’t having any of it. I was a rebel in such a good way. So here was I, resting on the iron railings. Although we weren’t exactly friends, at least we knew each other. We both stayed silent for a few minutes, counting inwardly at the time we would escape while at the same time praying that we’re not caught – we would’ve be treated as treasonous criminals if we were. Then he broke the ice by asking, “Isn’t forever a long time to be stuck in this country?” I was thrown aback by the question, this was a person the whole school saw as an unserious fellow, but here he was conjuring the most profound thoughts out of his mind.
I allowed for a few seconds to properly digest the question, then I answered, “well, assuming we graduate from this school in one piece.” We both looked at each other and smiled. It was an honest smile. Then we began counting the number of years we had left and stopped abruptly when we became overwhelmed at the sheer magnitude of time we had left and dreams yet uncompleted. After sharing a few more stories, we escaped back out of the fire exit. But the question he asked and the conversation that followed stayed with me for a very long time. Sadly, that was the last time we ever spoke to each other directly.
Many times I ignore my secondary school’s group chat. It’s always on a permanent mute. I don’t and can’t relate to their talks. I only reply when it concerns me and vanish till I’m called to attention. So I missed the news of his death, till a few days after, on an infrequent occasion, I checked my status on WhatsApp and saw another friend post this my late friend’s picture, with the infamous words, “RIP.” I was shocked. I quickly sent him a barrage of messages questioning what happened. Then I stormed into the group chat and saw the news of his passing buried in a sea of letters, primarily condolences. I bit my lips. How did I ever miss this? Then I remembered the day he died. I tried wondering what I did on the said day that made me miss the story of his demise. Then I remembered I had been at home, celebrating and enjoying life, there was a festival going on. At the same time, another person was struggling for his life. I felt like Judas. This same late friend had followed me on another social media platform a few months before his demise. He had big brains and big dreams. This made everything felt empty. I was empty.
One of the posts he made on his social media page was about him changing his society for the better. But God knows best. He had the idea but couldn’t live to fulfil it. I couldn’t even bring myself to mourn him out of shame and self-pity because I didn’t even acknowledge him for once when he lived. The conversation I had with my friend in the fire escape played like a loop continual. My late friend had reached his forever, stuck in this country even with all his potential, but he, unfortunately, had his escape in death.
I sighed and told myself, “finally, you’re free. Nigeria cannot touch you now.”
Note: Maybe None of This Happened. Maybe.