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Moses Obroku: Kelechi, How About That Lunch?

Moses Obroku

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Kelechi Umelo was my classmate when we were studying Law as undergraduates in the University. Tall and very light complexioned; our Criminal Law lecturer nicknamed him ‘Redneck’. Soon, that name stuck and we all called him Redneck, even throughout our stay in Law School.

Easy going and amiable, Kelechi was fun to be with. He did not have a dull moment in school. Never took school too seriously; unlike the rest of us who almost lost out on fun things on campus. Yet, he was the first person from our undergraduate class to secure a decent job.

While the rest of us ‘eficos’ were still learning how to write winning CVs, Kelechi had landed a job with the prestigious PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) as a corporate finance consultant (a big lesson that being too serious in school does not guarantee a good job quickly).

Through the years, Kelechi and I kept in touch when the pressures of Lagos life allowed us to. I was aware when he moved from PWC to CardinalStone Partners and continued to rise in his investment advisory career.

When I welcomed my first son, Kelechi came to celebrate with my family bearing gifts.  Another time, when Foluke, our mutual friend, and former classmate put to bed, Kelechi, my wife and I had converged there. At that gathering, we had teased him about his single status.

He eventually got married in 2014 and put an end to that ‘when will you marry’ talk. I remember his wedding was also a reunion opportunity of sorts. Classmates from the University and Law School that had lost contact were too happy to see one another again. Kelechi’s new family was blessed with a daughter in August 2015. I remember when his little girl was born because she was just a few days older than my second son. Matter of fact, five of us from our undergraduate class had babies that period; a few days apart from one another.

When in 2016 my wife was in a coma following a life-threatening illness for nearly two months, of course, Kelechi had come to see her in the hospital. I remember that afternoon well. He had come during lunch hour on a weekday, in the company of Foluke. Although it was a brief visit, it meant a lot to me.

That would be the last time I saw Kelechi alive.

On Saturday, September 17, 2016, he had gone jogging in the morning when he collapsed and passed on. No warning. No goodbyes. The news left all of us in disbelief. One day Kelechi was here, full of life, the happy husband, and father, the next day no more. In an uncanny dejavu, I had lost a former secondary schoolmate on that same date exactly twenty-one years ago.

Three weeks before his tragic demise, Kelechi had called me one afternoon. He wanted to find out how my wife who was out of coma and hospital was doing. After giving him updates, he promised to come to the house for a visit. It was during that conversation he made an open offer for us to have lunch sometime. ‘Guy, whenever you are on the Island on a work day, let’s have lunch na’ he had said. ‘Oh sure, I will let you know’ I had responded. That turned out to be our last conversation.

Through the grief and disbelief, I kept wondering, ‘Kelechi, how about that lunch we talked about?’ Death could not even wait for us to have that one final moment. Could not wait for him to raise his daughter up, and be there for his young wife. He was just 36 years old.

The funeral service was difficult to attend. Most of us his friends, who reunited during his wedding, gathered again for him for a grim purpose. There was no dry eye in the hall. We all looked past one another with dejected faces, silent in our common loss.

Our other colleagues would have wondered as I did, about the brevity of life. While the service lasted, a big screen kept flipping pictures of stages in Kelechi’s lifetime. Most of those stages I shared with him. But now, ‘the fire has gone out, the last flicker gone’.

No one is guaranteed the next moment indeed. We are here now and gone the next. How about all those dreams, all the struggles, all those examinations in University and Law School, all those certifications? In the end, we must learn from the words of Moses in Psalm 90:12 “Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom”.

We must seize the moment and do what we desire to do. If we need to meet up with someone, call them, or show kindness, the time is now. I wished Kelechi and I had that lunch we talked about. It took a long time for me to gradually come out of the depression I experienced with his demise. I can only imagine what his family is going through now.

The short but impactful life our friend had left us all in awe. In the words of Jim Reeves, Kelechi no doubt left us with ‘golden memories and silver tears’. It was an honor to have shared those times together my friend. We shall surely miss you, Redneck!

Aside from being a lawyer, migration management expert, security personnel and fitness buff; there are many other sides to me. I am also a self -proclaimed foodie (and oh yes, to complement that, I can cook!). Of course, writing is my passion and I have a mission to inspire my world, one person at a time. I can be reached on [email protected] Instagram: @mosesobroku

19 Comments

  1. Akara Pancake

    June 13, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    I went to Law School Abuja with Kelechi, and was friends with him.

    You know how people usually say polite things about someone who has passed on, even if the deceased person was really not that amiable when he was alive? This is the opposite. Kelechi was the real deal. A really nice, genuine, easy going lad, who everybody liked. One cannot say enough good things about him. A really beautiful person but inside and outside, which is a rarity these days.

    I remember playing basketball with him in the evenings at Law School. Hanging out to discuss music, politics, everything. He was a really stand up guy. The type of fella you would want your sister or daughter to marry.

    I remember when I came back from England after almost half a decade away. Once I buzzed Kelechi to let him know, he asked where I was at that particular time. I replied that I was at a bar meeting up with friends from secondary school somewhere in Victoria Island. Dude took a cab to come and meet me there. I remember seeing Consulting Books in his hands, as he was preparing for a professional exam. I recall teasing him that he had left law practice for financial consulting and advisory services. He laughed it off.

    That was the last time I saw him, even though we kept in touch and called/emailed/texted each other from time to time.

    When I heard about his passing, it hurt me to the core for days. The world has lost a magnificent human being. A uniter of persons. A handsome soul.

    Love and miss you my brother.

  2. Serah

    June 13, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    I met Mr Kelechi in PwC while working as an intern. He was a very nice person. I was so shocked when I learnt of his demise. May his sweet soul continue to rest in peace.

  3. EJIRO

    June 13, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    I met him on some occasion when he came to my Office. Hmmm Death RIP kELECHI

  4. Sky

    June 13, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    I lost a friend a year ago. His name was also Kelechi. Still feels like a bad dream i’m forcing myself to wake up from.

    Ochuego1!!!.

  5. J

    June 13, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    Just wondering about his wife, and his daughter that would not get to know her father.
    We have to make good use of every single day. Live while we are alive, love and learn.
    RIP Kelechi.

  6. Ivie Karen

    June 13, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    This is thoughtful,
    .

  7. rain

    June 13, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    thats life for you …..May his soul rest in peace. We must make the best of our life while alive and we must connect to God and live our lives as true christians

  8. Simplymeana

    June 13, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    i always have the inkling to avoid very good people because in my subconscious most of them do not live long,as if to say they just come to dis world to break our hearts….RIP KELECHI

  9. Jumoke

    June 13, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    Genuine, amazing & wonderful person. His is the hardest loss I’ve ever suffered. Still very raw. God be with us all. Amen

  10. Duvy

    June 13, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    I never met Kelechi but learnt a lot from this article. Thanks for sharing Moses and may his gentle soul rest in perfect peace. I believe that a life well lived is one of impact with investment in people development so I’ll say cheers to kelechi for a life well lived.

  11. B

    June 13, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    At first i thought this was fiction but discovered it was true. May his gentle soul rest in peace. I remember flicking through the album of my sister’s wedding which took place quite some years ago. I came across a few faces who are no longer alive today. It reminded me that each of us has a race to run in life. Fulfill whatever you can while trying to be at peace with others, more importantly be a blessing. You never know when your time is up.

  12. Christy

    June 13, 2017 at 8:28 pm

    Life can be demanding and we are usually got up with living that we often fail to spend time with friends and loved ones. Then one day…….puff; like a candle blown out in the wind, someone dear is lost and we sit down to mourn ‘what would have been’.
    Guilty…….Guilty….. Guilty…….

  13. Adamazi

    June 13, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    Beautiful article and may the soul of the departed rest in peace. Time waits for no one. Reach out to loved ones and stop putting things off. Thanks for sharing

  14. adelegirl

    June 13, 2017 at 10:10 pm

    Oh no! Went to law school with him. Recall him as a bubbly friendly guy. May his soul rest in peace and may God continue to keep his family and loved ones.

  15. Tone

    June 14, 2017 at 12:17 am

    This is my first post on a social blog, and it just had to be for Kelechi. I just can’t even begin to describe just how great a guy he was! The write-up did a good job of that. We played basketball at law school together, at least twice a week, stayed on the same floor in the same block and hung-out with a bunch of other great guys! Straight-talking, light-hearted, fun-loving, focused guy with a beautiful soul! Death took someone that day! Rest in peace, KC….

  16. Damie

    June 14, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    I was just scrolling through the blog and I saw my dear friend’s picture and I froze. All the sad feelings of his demise coming back fresh, not like it really left. My friend for almost 20yrs. Hmmm. He IS a great guy and good friend that has your back .Always happy to help and advice. Pushing you towards excellence! Continue to rest in peace dear friend. God knows best. May God continue to strengthen your darling wife, daughter and extended family. We have a lot to learn from you. Your life still speaks. May God help us to be a blessing to others and make a positive impact #kelzpledge

  17. Ihu

    June 14, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    Thanks so much for this write up. My dear brother was indeed a beautiful soul and is impossible to replace. I miss him but his lovely memories are a great comfort zone

  18. Ebele

    June 14, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    Nice write up Moses. Kelechi……My heart’s still heavy but I constantly remind myself that we’ll meet at Jesus’ feet. Miss you lots.Sleep on dear brother.

  19. Ebels

    September 1, 2017 at 9:37 pm

    It’s almost a year but the pain of separation is still there. Though I knew Kelechi aka Kels for a while like 3 years it hurts to loose a friend so dear.
    Very chappy and full of life, never a dull moment always ready to help.
    At the last conference we attended we sat at the middle close to the back and talked all through, passing comments about the presenters like naughty children in a class.
    We exercised together in your last days “Tuesday and Wednesday” you asked me to take my health seriously and go get checked if i feel funny and alas by Saturday morning you were gone.
    Oh death where is thy sting oh grave where is thy victory.
    Sleep on my dear brother and friend

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