Losing a loved one can be heart-rending and depressing. I have seen people slip into depression because they lost a loved one, and I never really understood the extent to which the loss of a loved one could take a toll on one’s life until I lost a dear friend.
Babangida and I met in secondary school. It was 2001 and I had recently been enrolled in an all-boys boarding school. I was finding it difficult making friends because I couldn’t speak fluent Hausa, and most of the students couldn’t communicate in English or Pidgin English; two languages I could speak with relative ease. Words travelled fast that a fake Americana had been admitted and I was treated like an exhibit in a museum.
Everybody wanted to see the guy who didn’t understand Hausa. I told them that I grew up in the barracks and that because the barracks was a melting pot of people of different tribes, Pidgin English is the lingua franca. My explanations didn’t help. Just when I was dying of loneliness and boredom, I met Babangida and we sort of clicked. It was as if we had known each other for years. We bonded really well and became inseparable.
We both graduated and relocated to our respective states of residence; I, to Gombe, and Babangida, Plateau state. A couple of months later, I ran into a former classmate, Bashir, and he dropped a bombshell: he told me Babangida had passed on. I didn’t believe him at first, so I pressed him for details. He told me that he had heard that Babangida went to a stream to do his laundry and drowned after he mistakenly fell into the deep end. I treated the news with some doubt since he didn’t witness the incident. But as time went on, I ran into other former classmates of mine who corroborated Bashir’s story. My doubts began to taper off and I started to entertain the possibility that Babangida was really dead. For days, my heart ached and I was overwhelmed with grief.
Before Babangida’s passing, I had always thought that death only snatched certain kind of people. His death made me realize that death is a leveller and that it is no respecter of persons.
My friend’s death dealt me a severe blow. For days on end, I would stare blankly, hoping and praying that I would wake up and realize that news of my his passing was a dream. Getting over his death, an irreparable loss, was difficult. But as they say, “Time heals all wounds”.
Part of my healing process was letting go of anything my friend liked that would remind me of him. Anything from music, movies to fashion and hobbies.
Even if I could turn back the hands of time, there was nothing I could have done to avert my friend’s untimely death because I believe it was fated to happen. In the days leading up to his death, I had had a series of nightmares.
It was an omen of impending death but I couldn’t put two and two together, and that’s probably because Babangida didn’t feature in my nightmares. His death still hurts. He was my best friend, and since his death, I have not had another.