For the first time in my life I was hit with the news of death twice in the space of three days. I came home feeling great on Saturday night after a wonderful day at school, only to hear that Paul Gaba was gone. It was like I was hit with a sand bag in my gut. Somebody I had seen with his wife just two Fridays before, for the first time in a long time. I noticed he had lost some weight, but I didn’t think too much about it. Little did I know there was a whole lot more to it than met the eye.
You can imagine that my heart was heavy on Sunday morning. Because of that, I dragged myself to church and did all I needed to do, and actually got a thing or two from the service. Went by the Gaba’s but didn’t stop by and then headed home. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I was home before 12 noon. I slept and then headed out to school for the Class of 2013 Prom. It was a fine evening, until my 500GB hard drive dropped while my laptop was being moved by some dude. The Butterfly Effect theory came to mind for the rest of that night. If I hadn’t misplaced my 16GB flash drive on Thursday, I wouldn’t have had to use my hard drive to copy two videos that we ended up not playing for the kids. But though I was pained, it didn’t get to me as much as it normally would have because my heart was still heavy from the news of Paul’s death. I pictured the Chinese dude from the Hangover movies asking me “Did you die?”
Monday was a busy day, although I didn’t get anything else done other than my invigilation sessions. I opted out of lesson for that evening, because I needed to rest and recover from the physical and emotional exhaustion of the weekend. So, when I got home and saw via BBM PMs and DP updates that Dolu Ige had passed, I was pained. It’s crazy, because on Saturday night as I drove along University Road and looked at the turn off to the street with Road Runners, I remembered her and imagined how she was doing and if she was even in Lagos or not.
I’m used to death. Not because I’ve lost too many people close to me or anything of that sort; but from when I was a child, I developed an automatic cut off on receiving news of anybody’s death. This reflex insulates me from the torrent of emotions that are associated with people passing. As such I have never been moved to tears by anyone’s passing. The flip side is, it makes me practically useless when other people are mourning around me. There have been a few occasions when the pain has been deep upon hearing news of an individual’s demise, Bernard’s last year was one of them. However, I can’t remember any of those occasions being this bad. I wasn’t particularly close to either of them. I attended the same church as Paul for a period of 5 years and was close to one of his younger brothers and one of his younger sisters. I am really close to one of Dolu’s best friends, but that was the extent of our relationship. These facts however haven’t made both their losses easier to bear.
While I have come to understand that death is no respecter of persons, it is a hard pill to swallow when young people who are so full of life and have such great personalities are taken seemingly before their time. The suddenness of Paul’s death was even more devastating for everybody, because it didn’t happen when he was in the worst bit of the illness. It happened at a time when it was believed he had gotten better. Alas the cancer had other plans. At the service of songs yesterday, I wasn’t moved by the fact that the premises was packed to the point where people had to stand even in a slight drizzle. It was the several testimonies of people who had known him that touched me. I was especially moved by a lady, his next door neighbour, who said she didn’t even know his name and had only met him on two occasions, yet on hearing of his death she made up her mind to come and speak on how amazing a person he was, by virtue of the unusual kindness he had shown her on the second occasion they met.
It’s pretty much the same for Dolu. Many have written, and many will still write, of how great a person she was. I remember the first day I met her, didn’t even know her name or anything about her then. I was struck by how vivacious she was. She just radiated such cheer and warmth and life. When I got to know more about her and found out she had cancer my respect for her grew beyond bounds. Dolu was a star; a radiant light that touched everything and everyone around her with her being. One would never have thought she was facing an enemy so hideous and devastating and consuming. In hindsight, I think that darkness made her light shine even brighter. Dolu’s braveness and courage is something that I will always remember and admire and aspire towards. To face a personal challenge so daunting, and still be a pillar of support and care to your friends and family; it makes me look at myself and shake my head in disgust because I know I could do so much more for the ones I love and the ones I call my friends.
I don’t believe there’s such a thing as untimely death. As humans, we can look at things with our infinitesimal understanding and believe that those who have gone still had so many things left to accomplish, but really only God truly knows. I am of the school of thought that we do not depart from this plane of existence until the time allotted to us has expired. I do believe though, that we may go before we fulfil all we are supposed to. It is my humble opinion that the multitude of people that have been touched by both of these individuals, and the imprints they left in the lives of all they met are the ultimate epitaphs. Their memories will not fade. Their legacies will not dwindle. Their flames will remain kindled in the hearts of all who loved them.
Goodbye Paul Gaba. Goodbye Modurodoluwa Ige. Rest in perfect peace.