I will come home again. Your door will open to me. Your open arms will welcome me. Tears of joy in your eyes, you will make me feel as if I had been gone for many, many years – not just 365 days. You will make me know how much you had missed me, and, still filled with the joy of my return, you will take my hand and lead me excitedly to our familiar table opposite which Baba sits, and there we will try to fill the gaps created by our absence from each other, and our heads robust with memory, talk and talk and talk. We will talk and never tire. We will talk late into the night and into the morning hours.

We will talk about the family, our land, our hopeless people and our even more hopeless and clueless leaders. We will talk about the unending power failure, the growing unemployment, the anger in the land, the rising arrogance in the brood of looters who have turned power into self-aggrandizement. We will talk about how many of our street people have been kidnapped with huge ransoms placed on their heads for choosing to live in a nation without security. For small talk, we will talk about the baker’s wife who eloped with a trailer driver, because her man was no longer a ‘man’; Atine’s sister who killed herself as she tried to abort a six month feotus  implanted in her by a boyfriend she soon found was not a movie actor as he claimed, but a man who did drugs at the Murtala Muhammed Airport and occasionally hurled empty monologues at the skies…

We will talk and talk of the many many things you hinted me in your e-mails while I worked in the fever of my blood Up There. And I will  elaborate on my own hints I sent you in text messages at the breaking of the news, details of which you got to read yourself from the papers and watch on television: the new rage of mindless people in our land who, for reasons that still confound, bomb churches, schools, public places, police stations and barracks, killing hundreds and maiming hundreds more, raising a pall over our land now increasingly being littered with a mass of graves…

And now, I have truly come home, and when I open the door, there are no arms to welcome me, no tears to make me feel I had really been away for too long. The driveway is empty; just as the car park where your Nissan used to sit. There is no laughter in the compound, let alone someone to take my hand and lead me excitedly to the table where we would unloosen our hearts in talk. The room is empty. The table is gone, like the chair that faces it, where Baba used to sit. No bird tweets a welcome, and taking a walk down the corridor that adjoins Baba’s room, there is the silence and the emptiness of a graveyard. I open the door to his room: the emptiness yells at me. No one is there to greet me.

Baba is gone…

Baba is gone. And with it, everything seems to be gone too: the laughter, the talks, the welcomes… The mood of my nation has changed too. More despair seizes the streets; more bombs detonate, and we remain at a loss as to the meaning of all this. 365 days appear to have become an eternity! The road is filled with cow dung and littered with human faeces. I decipher a path laid with landmines and broken bottles, at the end of which is a tattered green and white flag hanging limp like the Baker’s manhood on a lonely post. Further down is a new road, swept clean by the vision of the restorers at whose beautiful entrance is the sign: THE FRUIT OF WORK.

And I make this pledge, with God on my side, that my voice will not grow weary of song, nor will my feet be tired of dance, for I know that just as He who created the pencil also created the eraser, He raised everyone of us to be minesweepers… My hope is untrammelled like the hope of a child for the milk of its healthy, happy mother.  By His grace, my shadow will lengthen above the eaves and my strides, longer now, will shame the cheetah in the bush tracks of the savannah. I will work the talk and talk the walk. Eyes forward, I will remain a part of the re-awakening, and the walk for the reshaping of my land, never, never giving up.


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