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Oluwadunsin Deinde-Sanya: These Are the Things I Wanted to Tell You

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dreamstime_l_25864143These are the things I wanted to tell you Kelechi, before you became thick black smoke and journeyed with the wind.

First, let me start by saying that before you left, I wasn’t truly fighting with you, it was one of my childish moves of playing tough knowing fully well that you would later apologise and tease me about it and we would laugh over it. You would eye me as you usually did, accompanied by that ridiculous hiss although you could never do it as much as I could- but the chance never came.

Maybe,e you left thinking I was angry with you or maybe you knew it was one of my silly pranks, I never got to know, but since then, it has haunted me – like a dark shadow stalking my every move. I wanted to tell you Lekan went for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and won cool cash and I wanted to tell you about Tanwa, she finally eloped with Aminu and I hear they are happy, but I’d decided to keep it and add it to the list of things I would tell you when you arrive, when we sit on that long bench and gossip, your eyes twinkling as you call me ofofo, yet you listen to my every word. Maybe that was what I liked about you most – you were a very good listener.

When I called mama and she said you’d gotten to Lagos, I was relieved. I knew by 2pm, you’ll be home and I sat by the clock, watching its every tick. I was nervous, I knew I shouldn’t be, I had finally made up mind to tell you the truth, to tell you my pulse rose whenever you didn’t call for a day. I wanted to open up to you that although we bickered all the time, you were my best friend and it was only with you I felt truly me. When you asked me out, I didn’t hesitate to say no , because I read too many novels and I wanted a guy with a square face, straight jaws and full eyebrows – he must be exceedingly handsome with manly shoulders and chest and you didn’t fit in. I later concluded it doesn’t matter because you were so unique and you had such a beautiful heart no other person had but it was too late.
It was late because by 5:30pm, Nnamdi came knocking frantically on my door, gasping for air, choking on words, his eyes bulging. It was late when we stopped a bike and went to meet you, I recognised your travelling bag and your clothes. I saw mama screaming, her voice the wailing sound of mother hen, she ran from one person to another shouting that you were her son, you were her hope for tomorrow, but no one heard, her voice was drowned by the ominous hooting of the owl, it was swallowed by the chants of ‘hit him and thief’ – Kelechi, you were naked, you were surrounded by a mob, ice cold venom sprouting from their pores. You were plummeted with rods and stones but you didn’t respond, you were weak, blood pouring from your pores, flooding the streets, satisfying the thirst of the earth, you only stared at mama as the put her hands over you, the crowd pulling her away, some threatening to burn her with the thief. It was baba olopa that delayed us, we had rushed to meet him to help us but he said he was too tired and his job didn’t include dispersing a lynching mob, how much them dey pay me, he said. It was late when Nnamdi and I came back from the police station with some policemen, by then your skin was black, your flesh cooked, your hands outstretched in odd positions, thick smoke emanating from your skull. Mama was on the floor unconscious and your eyes were oddly open – they were staring at me. The crowd dispersed so quickly like flames, not before I saw some saving the videos and pictures they had taken, excitement showing on their faces- it was just another interesting tale to tell.

Nnamdi never understood. For weeks he stared into space, his eyes void. He held mama’s hands so tightly as she laid on the hospital bed, unconscious. Nnamdi said nothing but after three weeks, he whispered “aunty, why was Kelechi burnt?”. I couldn’t answer, I couldn’t tell him a woman had seen a purse that looked like her’s with you, she had come to meet you as you attempted crossing the busy road and had accused you of stealing the purse, she said she had just got down from her car and had put it in her back pocket and you had stolen it. You looked on at her incredulously and when she said she would search the purse, you had found your voice; you told her she was being silly and it was your purse but she insisted men didn’t carry that kind of purse and she had shouted ole . Maybe she didn’t know in Lagos, you do not shout ole so loudly, maybe she didn’t know thugs would arrive holding sticks and machetes, petrol and matches, maybe she didn’t know they would lynch him without knowing what happened, for she ran away shortly after the lynching started.

Nnamdi knew. He knew I couldn’t answer. He saw it in the tears that fell from my face. He saw it in the quivering of my lips, in the way my whole body trembled, but he didn’t know I gave you that purse, and that was the reason I trembled so. Nnamdi shook his head, tears sliding unto his palms “aunty, they didn’t know Kelechi”, I nodded.

They didn’t know you. They didn’t know that after your father died, you had shouldered the responsibilities of your family. They didn’t know that when you graduated from school, mama cried and danced around you, mama loved you and invested so much in you. She said you were the glorious morn, set to bring sunshine unto her. They didn’t know they had wiped out a generation, or maybe they knew but did not care.

These are the things I want to tell you Kelechi. Mama never recovered, she died 2 months after, she cursed all those who killed her son especially that woman. I said amen to the curses; although, I don’t’t know if I should feel guilty about that, for 3 years after her death, the woman came begging. She said she later saw the purse in her car (she hadn’t taken it out) and her kids were mysteriously dying and she needed Nnamdi’s forgiveness, but I walked her out of the house. I don’t know if I should feel guilty about that.

I took Nnamdi in. He was unusually strong and intelligent. Once he asked me if truly Igbo women make better wives, he said two uncles had said so. I smiled and told him that the two uncles said so, because they hadn’t read enough of the book of proverbs to acquire wisdom and then I taught him to always use his brain and think before he talks. He understood; I know he did because the next day when Rahama insulted him using his tribe, he told her he was Nigerian first before Igbo. He said he was proud to be Igbo and walked away. My chest swoll with pride. I knew because I was watching him through the window. I knew then that he would grow up to be a responsible man – not one with a basket for a mouth. He has so many dreams already and he talks of changing the world and this makes me scared, because you used to talk of changing the world too, but I have hope- we will get there.

It’s been 8 years now, I ought to have written this earlier, but each time I start, my fingers tremble, my nerves fail me and I chicken out – like the coward I am. Most times I see you in my dreams, I remember those lines that crease your face when you smile, your voice – the beautiful humming of the evening air, but again I remember . . .

These are the things I should have told you Kelechi, I stole that picture you were looking for (I sleep with it beside my bed) and I also took that letter; the one you said you wrote for Ngozi, but I know you lied, because at the back of the envelope, I saw Abike written on it – you had written it for me.

These are the things I wanted to tell you Kelechi. I loved you, I really loved you and I regret not telling you until you became the diminished sun, darkened by the arrival of dusk.

For Dan.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Oluwadunsin is a Writer and Editor from Lagos, Nigeria. Her works have been featured on BellaNaija, The Kalahari Review, Barren Magazine, and others. Want to get in contact with her? Easy!! Send a mail to [email protected] You can follow her on Instagram @oluwadunsin___ and on Twitter @duunsin.

38 Comments

  1. Prince Charming

    December 7, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    I had to stop reading when you I realised it was a dirge. The recession is biting hard already. I don’t want to read a sad piece like this and get a heart attack.

  2. The Real Oma

    December 7, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    Oh please tell me this didn’t really happen, that it is all a product of your imagination, oh my goodness, so so sad. Man’s inhumanity to another… say No to jungle justice my people, please!

  3. MadamYe...

    December 7, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    Long sigh…I’m at my desk trying to hold back my tears… This beautifully written.

    • MadamYe...

      December 7, 2016 at 3:16 pm

      *was

    • Moi

      December 9, 2016 at 2:53 pm

      Me too…

  4. See

    December 7, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    Speechless and in tears. Even more so because I know this may be fiction but I also know it is fact.

    You are a talented writer, and this has to be the one of the most well written pieces I have read on BN. Actually you should have published it in a literary magazine.

    There should be a special kind of perpetual suffering for perpetrators of such evil in the guise of justice. May God protect us and ours. Amen

  5. Sherlie Holmes

    December 7, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    Wow

  6. Mz smiles

    December 7, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    Such a good writer. Couldn’t stop the tears

  7. "changing moniker"

    December 7, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    Jesus!!!!
    I read this and I almost cried.
    This is beautifully sad, and I sit here praying that it really didn’t happen….
    Keep writing, Dunsin. Never stop!!

    • See

      December 7, 2016 at 5:21 pm

      It has happens to real people…

  8. Deb

    December 7, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    Very good and commendable style of writing

  9. maryam yakubu

    December 7, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    awwwwww nice sad story.. I trust u Dee I no dis is a true story.I wish I can write lyk u keep it up

    • Ens

      December 7, 2016 at 10:26 pm

      You can only wish but it will NEVER happen with your ‘u’ for you, ‘no’ for know, ‘dis’ for this, ‘lyk’ for like, Full stops with no space after and not inserting full stops at the end.

      I fear u wee only end up writn lyk dis 4eva

  10. Richie_writes

    December 7, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    My God! This is both tragic and beautiful

  11. Anonymous

    December 7, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    ‘Swoll’ is not an English word. The correct word is swelled.

  12. Iya

    December 7, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    This babe has come again oooooo!!! First Adamu, then Kokumo, now this!! Don’t EVER stop writing Dunsin! Xx

  13. Blessing

    December 7, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    A guy was lynched because a man shouted thief. Well, turned out that the boy was a rich kid who wouldn’t stop seeing his daughter. The boy had gone to the girl’s compound that night and a heated argument had ensued. The older man shouted “Thief! Thief!” Boys hear alarm come descend on the guy. They needed a scapegoat, as the street had issues with incessant armed robbery.
    I discovered that night that burning human flesh smells just like burning animal flesh. The guy’s parents came the next morning and took his charred remains. The man and his daughter have not been seen till date.

    • Yinka

      December 7, 2016 at 8:10 pm

      Did they move out or just vanished

    • Blessing

      December 7, 2016 at 11:24 pm

      They ran away when the truth came out

    • Yinka

      December 8, 2016 at 3:46 am

      Oh,I was hoping for an unsolvable missing persons case.

  14. Kura Ben

    December 7, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    Keep on writing & don’t ever stop.
    Stories like this helps me to think about humanity itself. Thanks Dunsin.

  15. Jefka

    December 7, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    Goosebumps………

  16. Yinka

    December 7, 2016 at 8:11 pm

    Did they move out or just vanished

  17. funmilola

    December 7, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    I’m trying so hard to imagine what goes on in the mind of youths who snap pictures and record videos of someone been lynched, is there any excitement in it?
    hmm, I see you shading daddy freeze too….
    you rock dunsin!

  18. Uyai

    December 7, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    Hmmm…Deedee i never knew u were this good,just one word…..PERFECTO!

  19. AIs Osa

    December 7, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    Beautifully written. Your writing skills, usage of English and intelligent imagination of abstraction is highly commendable.
    Readers can also read Denson’s stories on http://www.dunsinspen.blogspot.com
    Kudos girl

  20. chic wen sabi

    December 7, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    Just a word…….a master piece…
    Very touching, a story to learn

  21. Osaretin

    December 7, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    Beautiful Piece!

  22. Marian

    December 7, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    I just just got mad at my alarm for going off while i was reading this. It moved me to tears. You took me there and i felt like i was Abike and was able to go through the journey and see it through her eyes. OMG!!!! I hate jungle justice. I’m still crying sha. I thought i had fully dealt with the video of the young boy i saw years ago who was murdered by a mob of adults. He was so young, so cute and wanted to live. He begged them and told them he was innocent but no one listened. He was so little and i kept waiting for it to be fake but it was so real and so raw and i coundn’t do anything to stop it from happening. This just brought it all back. Life can be so unfair. The poor boy had been through so much already from his father kicking them out of the house to having to sleep under the bridge with his mom and siblings and beg for food and to have his life cut short in such a cruel way was just the worst.

    Dear writer, you have a gift and i hope to read more stories from you. Thanks

  23. Yinka

    December 8, 2016 at 3:46 am

    Oh,I was hoping for an unsolvable missing persons case.

  24. Eghosa

    December 8, 2016 at 6:37 am

    You killed it, Dami…

  25. Mzphunby

    December 8, 2016 at 9:19 am

    Beautiful piece!! Makes me really sad knowing this happens in reality…
    I imagined every single scene

  26. Silver

    December 8, 2016 at 10:04 am

    Nice piece!!!

  27. See

    December 8, 2016 at 10:21 am

    Ok, I have just cried over this piece for the 3rd time this morning. I will not read it again, but I will never forget it. Like i still haven’t forgotten the documentary on Farkundha, the Afghan woman who was lynched for absolutely nothing but one man’s evil lie.

  28. Moniker

    December 8, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    Man’s inhumanity against man. The biggest culprits are those who watch with their eyes, phones and other devices. They are the same urging the bloodletting mob on. When did we as a country lose our compassion and humanity? Are they bigger thieves (not like they have been proven guilty) than the politicians who stole our commonwealth? Yet we celebrate them for robbing us and our unborn generation blind. DD, I hope I can dedicate this to all the innicent and guilty victims of jungle justice in this country. I hope they get justice.
    As always, a thought provoking piece. God bless and keep your pen lit.

  29. chizzy

    December 9, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    Beautifully written…

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