A Letter to Remember (Episode 2)
Tade saw the letter as the luxurious bus he boarded left the park. The bus had the inscription, “God is Good,” with a white colour mixed with a touch of red lining on the edges of the words. It was a late afternoon and twilight was setting in.
He checked up his Facebook for notifications and updates from friends and he also answered the Facebook question, “What’s on your mind?” with expressions like “one year of service is over, I am coming home, Mama!” He updated his Facebook timeline with pictures of the service year. And then, his phone showed a Gmail notification. He quickly left Facebook to check his mail, thinking that one of his applications for a job at Chevron had been a success but he was stunned.
His excitement was cowed as he read Tabitha’s letter. He wept at every word, for the words formed the Niger Bridge, connecting every part of Nigeria. The letter, like the Niger Bridge, connected him back to what he ran away from, from Tabitha. And in the well of emotions, forming a cup of tears he began to write.
Every word remains true. The Udala tree and its seeds are true too. They formed a memory for me. But you are not a memory. You are not something that withers with time; you are the richness I always want—for a keep. Memory comes in bits and in pieces and a promise is a vow too; not you anyway.
Yet, I had to leave, I had to forget or try to forget, for forgetting you is like a knife slicing through a human body. Forgetting you is like carrying a corpse to the cemetery, it comes with bitterness, you know.
You found me broken and you tried fixing me. You placed your hand on my chest once and asked: “what does it mean for a heart to beat for someone?” But I didn’t have an answer, I don’t understand the complexities of a heartbeat. “I want you, I really do” I had said, never considering the power of the words. I meant those words anyway.
We had just arrived from the three weeks orientation camp when I first met you and Umuahia North was somewhere I saw for the first time. As the bus from the orientation camp stopped at the Local Government Secretariat, you were the first to alight from it. I remember how you started laughing at my Nysc belt that looked more of rope tied around the waist. And somehow, we became friends out of the blue.
Mama is patiently waiting for me at home. She doesn’t want a stranger in her home and you are a stranger. So, I had to run. I had to leave before I have wet eyes.
Now, know this, my home is still with you and you will always matter.
…to be continued.