The calls to prayer have echoed over the town from the minarets over the years. Sun has risen and disappeared into several horizons. Moon has appeared and faded into dawn a countless number of times, and your departure from this world is still unbelievable to us. I am not sure writing a letter to you is not absolutely nonsensical as it is believed that you’ve moved on, but not writing it, I’m not sure, is sensible either, since I don’t know where heaven is.
We’ve sat together once on a general holiday, all of us, in the house, music all about, talks here and there and we still felt a certain silence, a very loud silence. It was our eldest brother who observed it and then the music faded into a blind spot of our heads and we felt the stillness too. “It’s dad’s typewriter keys’ being hit that is absent,” was what our youngest sister said. Smart little kid, older than her age. That struck me as absolute truth but… that was not all, at night when I laid on my back, I discovered, the real silence was the absence itself. Your presence, daddy, was a medley of songs of promises, songs of encouragements, songs of guidelines in leading our lives, songs of hope that we’ll never be obsolete in the activities of the world, songs of confidence, songs of spiritual awakening, songs of activism, songs of worship. And when you left, the silence had been cast all along; we noticed but did not know what it was, not until that day, until that very family reunion.
Are you being well tended by the angels? When did they say your murderer is crossing over? Oh those angels! Have they talked you into forgiving him? No wonder you’ve been quiet. The Atingisi I knew would have walked through their homes with his typewriter and leave all of them languished in prisons. It’s not that we didn’t try to play that role for you, but, just like you must have realized on the hospital bed, leaders of the world are great leaders but justice and truth is not their forte. You report the criminalities of King A to King B; they’ll laugh at your case over bottles of champagne. Those who’ll kill you, those who’re supposed to investigate those who’ll kill you, those who’ll publish the story, and those who’ll preside over the case at the law court with false papers stacking their desks belong to the same fraternity. If you do not leave them to suck on the marrows of politics and fill their cellars with dollars from oil, they’ll flare up in fury and have Alexander the Great poisoned at youth, Julius Caesar stabbed to death at the Senate, Socrates forced to drink hemlock in prison, Abraham Lincoln shot in the head at Ford’s theatre, John F. Kennedy shot in the head in a Ford’s car, Malcolm X shot 16 times at Manhattan ballroom stage, Martin Luther King shot by a sniper at his hotel room’s balcony in Memphis, Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie shot to death in their open-top car on their visit to Sarajevo, Bola Ige murdered in his Ibadan home, Muritala Muhammed sprayed in his Mercedes Benz towards Dodan Barracks. And Tafawa Balewa, if these moguls got angry, will not be spared. Mahatma Gandhi will not be spared. Chief M. K. O. Abiola will not be spared. Chief Amuda Olorunkosebi, Ashipa of Oyo until 1992 will not be spared. Alhaji R. A. S. Atingisi was not spared either; he was shot at his home in G.R.A. Oyo in the presence of his children and injected at UCH Ibadan when he refused to die two days later. Nobody says this in the papers because the moguls own the media. Well, didn’t they stone Muhammad (S. A. W.)? Weren’t they after Jesus Christ of Nazareth too? Didn’t they slay Isaiah with a wooden saw? Wasn’t Amos slain? Wasn’t Habakkuk stoned in Jerusalem? Didn’t they stone Jeremiah in Egypt? Didn’t they slay Ezekiel, the son of Buzi? Didn’t they kill Zechariah, the son of Berachia? Didn’t they chase Abraham across the Red Sea? They that were still are, they die but pass the role on.
Dad, I am generally impatient with life. Is it normal? I want to read a thousand books. I want to write a thousand novels. I want to write scripts for Hollywood. I want to study Creative Writing at Cambridge. I want to study Political Science at Harvard. I want to study Cinematography at Leicester. I want to study English at Oxford. I want to marry a Princess from a royal family in Saudi Arabia. I want to contest elections and put my willingness to help people to proper action. I want to be a published author. I want to see the world. I want to learn about mysticism, cultures and languages. I want to invent something new. I want to bring writing and reading culture back to Nigeria. And I’m growing mad right here. How could I want to do all these things at a single whim? My ambitions are so big; bigger than my pace and space. And you’re not here to tell me what to do, why, not even in a dream?
Dad, freedom is such an illusion. I’ve always tried to be free in life but it’s either one’s a slave to money, a slave to food, a slave to religion, a slave to the ten commandments, a slave to alcohol, a slave to one’s libido, a slave to love, a slave to memories, a slave to governments, a slave to emotions or a slave to one’s own ambitions, no one is free. Man could tell himself whatever lie makes him comfortable, but the day he’ll die is not of his choosing, another slavery (unless of course he commits suicide). I’m in love with books, but as much as I’d love to read, the job I have to do to feed myself doesn’t permit much reading, and I’m afraid of being known as he who only existed, not lived. What other story could be more tragic?
People tell me about marriage, I know you wouldn’t be part of them if you were here. But… dad, how did you do it at your time? Do I pick anyone and love later or should I love before choosing? I love the one I chose but the one that chose me loves me more. Should I choose the one I love or love the one that chose me? Should I marry for love or marry for children, for it seems I’ve not been able to retain those in whom I could combine both. Life is such a ridiculous adventure; it’s at the time when we think we’re wise that we’re likely to be very stupid. No wonder mum says, age is fair, head is fairer, but where many thoughts are involved, head alone cannot stand.
Father, I have suffered! I’m a Prince from the lineage of Alaafin Onisile with rights to the throne of Oyo Alaafin but life has not knelt and say, “dansaaki f’ori ade o.” Life has instead fucked me, stabbed me and left me to gasp miserably for breath while scavengers hovered above my gurgling pride. A witch from the Sunshine State has stretched my school span and you were not around to show her the strength of pen. I have been kissed on the forehead by the cold lips of life, and your pictures have only sat there, throwing knives that have carved on my heart, injuries that time will fear to heal. If you thought you had friends while you were alive, come back now and see, your real friends were those you just passed by, not those who came to drink at your house, chanting praises through their reeking gutters. And dad, lest I forget, Prison Break, Lost, 24, and Legend of the Seeker that we saw together have become old films. Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Da Vinci’s Demons and vast number of series have flocked the market. And yes, Wrestling has taken a new bent too. I doubt any of those mean anything to you now.
This day, February 15, 2009, the incident had happened. Today, February 15, 2016, seven years later, your killers are still riding freely, governing and rolling on the skulls of the ancestors, and they would wind down their glasses to look at us with smiles on their faces while they drive by, we dare not talk if we don’t want our own bullets and injections prepared. But I’m sure of one thing, in my blood, you’re still there, very alive, and if they knew what I know, they would wish… well, let’s be clandestine about it, the hourly bells still ring in London. I’m almost bald now, my head is becoming a living desert by the day, would you have laughed if you saw it? I miss you dad!
My letter, I’m sure, will find you in good health, if there is such in the context of your realm. Be good! May God forgive you and grant you mercy on the Day of Judgment. I love you.
Your son, Moshood. (Second of the Order of Six Pure Fellows, the man called lord).