I remember you.
Sometimes for a long period of time, I don’t think about her. And suddenly without warning, her face floats into my head. Her face and her laugh.
The trigger that made me think about Jumoke was seemingly remote. I was driving and my steering wheel felt funny. I thought about losing control of the car and then I saw Dipo, her brother, losing control of the car.
I touched my seatbelt and remembered that we were told that you insisted that Dipo wore his seatbelt but you did not wear yours.
I saw you or the way I imagined you would be at Dr Ajibola’s hospital on a slab. Cold and gone. No sign of physical trauma and yet gone forever.
There seemed to be a cloud of grief and pain that hovered the season that you died.
I remember coming back from the hospital to see my sister and friend Grace who had had an accident. She could not feel her legs. She kept fretting and saying “I am not myself. I don’t feel like myself.” The accident that took her ability to walk turned me inside out. I had never been more confused in my life.
So I came back home weary from work and seeing a pain that I could not fix.
As soon as I walked into our dining room, I saw your pictures on the table. I knew immediately that something had happened.
Why would someone go through the trouble of picking your pictures from the huge collection I had? I remember going to see Bola in the confusion I felt after I was told you were gone.
I kept seeing your face. The Kehinde family face. I kept hearing your giggle and you and Bola Opadiji’s mischievous banter in Yoruba. I remembered you loved singing “I am a covenant son of God.” Or for some reason I remembered when we learnt a song during rehearsals
So many times, I’m so confused
Wondering where I am going to
Roads with no signs
Dreams left behind
Nothing makes sense without you.
Now that I’m here, I understand
Now it’s so clear who I am
It’s like coming home
A child before wrong
The whole world so familiar yet new.
I have been searching for such a long long time
I have been needing something in my life
I was so lost till you put me through
I found myself in you.
Jumoke, I remember how you sang this song gustily. I did not think it was a sad song then. But there is so much sadness in it now.
The very worst was going to see your parents.
Your mother wailed when she saw me. I knelt before her as she held me and kept saying “Your friend is gone… your friend is gone…”
We were friends and a bond was there. You were easy to like. Easy to love.
Remember when we went to Aunty Kate’s wedding and you gave me your black dress to wear because I did not have any to wear?
I still have the pictures we took.
I remember standing by your grave when you had been interred and the men were using spades to fill up your grave. I remember finding it difficult to turn my back and walk away. I remember singing…
Why should I be discouraged?
Why should the shadows come?
Why should my heart be lonely?
And long for heaven and home
When Jesus is my portion.
A constant friend is he
His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches over me.
I sang the song not for you, but for me. For some comfort. For a way of not seeing the futility of life. To tell myself that God was still God even if life did not make sense. To reassure myself that he was not absent. He was seeing everything. And that there was some purpose to it all. And that I would see you again. I ended the song in a choke. Because at that moment, God seemed very far away.
It has been about 16years.
You memory has not faded.
I remember you today. It is not your birthday or deathday… but I remember you Jumoke. Keep resting.