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Things happen that shapes us and give us a new outlook on life. My Uncle’s death was another lesson for me. For obvious reasons, haven’t been able to picture him as weak as he had been in the last few years his sickness started. He was so full of energy, a workaholic, whom to me, also suffered from insomnia. I believe he didn’t sleep adequately and I often wondered how someone could live an almost isolated lifestyle, reclusive, as my Uncle did. To me, I actually thought someone of his unusual nature would be a ‘hermit’, no family, no association with anything social gathering and all. But no, my Uncle got married, had children, worked (he was an Architect), he was a member of the Lagos Country Club, he attended the Mass at his Catholic Church and even went shopping for food items and his needs. I can recall his smile as I type now. One would be surprised he had a smile on his unusual serious-looking face; an expression that he had become associated with, more than a smile or a “laughter”. But he laughed too, for those of us who were privileged to be close to him and some other, for different purposes. There was something about him that couldn’t be given away-his thoughts. You would never be able to guess what was going through his mind. I must tell you at this juncture that, his sense of responsibility and impeccability had a very positive role to play in his life. He was a perfectionist’, he was highly organized (a little of the European touch here), his brilliant mind would want you to know more than you already did, if you were anywhere around him. You may be subjected to scrutiny, depending on your academic qualification. He would engage you in a conversation to test your knowledge on the subject or see where your intellectual capacity would fail you. Once he’s able to figure out the limit of your ability, he’d select carefully the subject matter to discuss with you in the future. You would feel intimidated if he began to explain something you are expected to know, which unfortunately you happen to be ignorant of. The bottomline is, you’d be pushed to improve yourself either working with/for him , or if you’re going to find yourself in a conversation with him. Outsiders I believe related with him better than we his relations. I think a lot of us would easily see him as ‘secluded’ and just leave him to his presumably sadistic life, than try to figure out if there was more to him than the serious look on his face, his dissociation and detachment from almost everyone and everything around him. You’d be surprised how much he notices and observes, when he questions you. I never underestimate his sense of observation, which is usually being misconceived by those judging him from a distance.
Since the inception of his ailment,  I had spoken with him on the phone a few times. The tone of his voice did not give his ill health away, as I held a conversation with him, and I heard him as loud and clear as years back when I last saw him. Do not get me wrong, I wasn’t having a sweet vacation while I used to go assist with house chores those years as a teenager. But I did learn a thing or two from him. When ever I find myself doing those activities, I usually remember him. I had my own comic version of the experiences I had going to his place over the weekends and on holidays. It wasn’t your “typical” holiday. There was no one to play with, I hardly saw anyone else, except I get sent on errands. Looking back now, I honestly felt like I was being held against my will and my hands were tied that I couldn’t hesitate. It was like an ‘open cell’-where I would eat, answer to call of nature, do chores, but all behind the fences, seeing no one else but only hearing voices. I would long to be sent on errand, in order that I could get to see and be reminded that, there was another life behind those walls, that secured the house from unwanted visitors and buglers. I had a companion, a dog named ‘Bembo’. I wonder if its still alive now. I would chase the Dog out of my room (the guest room downstairs where I stayed in the Duplex) without success. It seemed to understand I felt lonely, and needed a living thing (besides the plants, that is). I would wake up early in the morning and once I leave the room, I don’t usually get back indie until later at night (except if I had to iron). On weekends when Uncle would leave for Church, I would be glad he was leaving because it meant my anxiety would subside. I was good at cleaning, but I fidgeted because I never know what am going to do next, that would make Uncle scold or query me. Madam was easier to deal with, she would send me on errands countless times, but I had no problem running her errands. She wasn’t as difficult to please like my ‘perfectionist’ Uncle. I often imagined how she was also able to live the life that was thrown at her, not by choice; but by circumstance. Fate had it all planned out for her before she came to Nigeria with my Uncle. She would have an accident in her home, that would leave her with a lifetime disability. She would often recount to me,  how optimistic she was in the beginning and how that turned into frustration after unsuccessful attempts to get an employment. She said she was often refused for being ‘over-qualified’ (being a White lady and having an International Masters Degree qualification in her field). This I believed coupled with her unfortunate incident resulted to her being a full time home-keeper, eventually. 
What I know and have taken away from my Uncle's demise is not to condemn anyone completely. I just do not believe anyone would come to this world and make no impact whatsoever in someone's life. It could be the midwife that delivered the child, the nurses, the relations, playmates, neighbours, schoolmates, colleagues at work,acquaintances, anyone, anybody. At some point in that child's life, before he or she becomes a full grown man or woman, someone must have had something good to say about the child.Each person has left an impression good or bad, even if it survived for a few minutes or hours on earth, that's a statistic and if someone witnessed it, then it's been recorded, offhand or written; and that's an impression!


  1. It felt somewhat good to revisit this post four years on...20th June 2015.I can't erase Uncle's memories from my mind.It's surely going into my memoir.


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