Your name was Peter but your friends called you 'Perry A'. I dont know what your enemies called you (you never introduced anybody to me as such.)
You would have been 71 today. And as usual, you would have celebrated it quietly. Stylishly. I was just wondering, if at that age you would really remember much.
Remember back then, how you would point at any words we see on the road and you would ask me to spell 'eat'? Billboards, kiosks, posters, anything? Remember how we would lie on the bed on Sundays and read all the Sunday newspapers together? Times, Punch, Tribune, Sketch, Concord, you always bought. (Later, you would not read anything except The Guardian). You would read one page and give it me and we went on and on like that until I fell asleep or we had to eat. We never went to church then!
Remember the first time I read Playboy? You said I should look at the words and not the pictures. I was ten or eleven. It was an interview with Sir Roger Moore. You knew I loved Roger Moore. You never liked him much. You always thought Sean Connery was the better Bond (and better actor). And we would argue. Maybe you were right after all. (Connery is still standing long after Moore had disappeared.) I wonder what you would have thought of Pierce Brosnan. And the new guy, Daniel Craig.
Every time you traveled you would buy me books. (OK maybe shoes once or twice). But you would buy shoes or clothes for everybody else - even the neighbors - and books for me. I often wondered if you really liked me. And you always bought packs and packs of Benson & Hedges for yourself. You always bought 'Made in England'. I believe you were probably their biggest customer ever. They even sent us cards and stuff from England every Christmas. Remember?
Remember when you got to know that I had started smoking. I just got into the university. You asked me why. And you said 'This thing will kill you. Maybe sooner. Maybe later, but it will kill you if you smoke it'. But you never stopped me. You never stopped me from doing anything. You only asked me why. And then you tell me about choices and their consequences. Choices and Consequences.
Remember the bad years? You called them The Seven Years of the Locust. It came with the military coup. Remember WAI? Remember how you had to go queue up to buy 'essenco' (Essential Commodities)? You would come back with soap, detergent, milk but always no toothpaste. And we would use Lux to brush our teeth. Or Imperial Leather. And use pako (chewing sticks) only on Saturdays.
Remember when I told you I wanted to leave school in order to help out by going to a more 'free education' school? (I was in boarding school and Mayflower was not cheap.) You cried. That was the first time I would see you cry. And you promised me that we would never have to leave school. None of us. No matter how bad it became. Even if you had to go begging to send us to school, you would. And you made me promise never to think of leaving school again. And I never did. Never.
You always had this thing for fitness. Your body was your greatest vanity. You wanted to stay young for ever. You made sure we bought and wore the same type of jeans and clothes? Remember when you came to see me in school and everybody in the department was asking if you were my brother? Other old guys would have come in agbada or even in suit, but you came in jeans! Remember?
Football was your passion. You would go on and on about your all-conquering Stationery Stores FC of the late '60s. About how you narrowly missed being in the '68 Olympic team because you had to go back to school. The first Nigerian team that 'almost' beat Brazil? We finally got relief when Kanu & co actually beat Brazil and actually went ahead to win gold. Remember?
Remember when the illnesses started? First it was the mild stroke. You had that sorted in no time. You just went in and out of hospital. But the cancer was a bastard. The doctor said the lungs were gone. Even though you had stopped smoking when you found ECKANKAR. But the lungs were gone. And you simply refused to fight it. You said there was no need. Choices and Consequences.
You moved into the hospital. For better care you said. But I knew you just didn't want to be a burden on anyone. You took over a private room and paid. Like moving into a hotel. You said if you had to go, then you would go in style. In style. It eventually took seven long months. Seven months like it would be tomorrow. Tomorrow. Always tomorrow.
Remember how we would talk for hours far into the night? We both knew there was no time. We talked about so many things. You told me about things that had happened even before I was born. About my mother. About the family. About the legend of Sekengbede. About my position in the family. And how important it was for me to succeed. You told me you were proud of me.
You moved your office to the hospital. Your famous drawing board and table. Your clients consulted with you there. You never wanted to be idle. You said your brain would still be working long after your heart had stopped beating. Remember?
The day eventually came. April 30. The doctor called me at the office. Come. That was all he said. I knew. It was in the middle of a fuel crisis. I wonder if you would remember that. But I do.
I remember you every time I look at Little Nimmo. He's just two but one could see he's an old soul in a new body. He uses both hands too, y'know. Just like you. And he always wants to draw 'Circles'. Circles. I wonder if I can be as good to him as you were to me.
I do remember, Perry. I remember you. Always.
My friend. My brother. My father.