“Mama please, it’s ok.” I’m beginning to be gagged, I couldn’t say any other words; pain is already putting me on chokehold, tears flooding my cheeks. “Please take good care of my mother.” These words keep reverberating in my ears.” “Chi m oooooo! Okey why did you leave me? Mama bemoans. I’m in a dilemma, I don’t know which to first hold, whether Okey’s mother or my emotions. “Please Charles don’t leave my mother.” Again Okey’s deep baritone voice sounds in my ears. “Mama, please, stop crying it’s ok.” I keep deceiving myself and the old woman. I know nothing is ok, everything is not ok. “Why am I even alive?” The old woman bellyached, and went berserk; rolling on the floor. Then it became glaring to me that I’m suffering from dehydration; my tears are meager compared to hers. The amount of tears flowing through the old woman’s eyes is strong enough to push down even the bravest heart standing as a bulwark, if it were a flood. I knew my pleadings will never be a panacea, not even an elixir, and I knew too that I’m already arrested by emotions. My six feet beefy body built is caricatured by this unseen emotion. I’m held hostage watching the cry of the octogenarian. I crouch beside her like a native doctor in a shrine looking into the empty air. “Okechuhwukwu nwa m ooooo! Who will continue to take care of me like you always did?” Mama cries, making Okey’s picture standing in my face.
“Charles my man, this year is gonna be a bomb, new house, new car and trip oversees.” He chuckled. “So happy for you man.” I said. “Remember to send me your account number, I still gat to bless you like I’ve always done.” He said. “Oh my goodness, God bless you my man.” I said, hopping up and down like an antelope running down a hill. “Before I forget, remind me to as well give to charity and donate to the almighty too. This year, more kids will be taken out of the streets and more widows will smile.” These were my last conversations with Okey; the next was at his hospital bed and now here to pacify his mother.
What I still couldn’t understand is why good people are always at the wrong place? Why do bad things happen to good people? I still have an avalanche of unanswered questions, but I don’t want to be dragged into this conundrum. I’ve thought of it and it keeps putting into my heart to believe that being good does not pay. I keep wondering why bad people last longer and become more successful? I was not the first to think in this direction, lots of prophets in the bible thought like this – Habakkuk was one of them. But then, I don’t ask God why? Sometimes I wish everybody’s proclivity and actions, and did, could best be written and hung on everybody’s chests so that evil will select just the bad ones by their placards and haunt. I don’t ask why bad things happen to good people, but I wonder why bad ones seem to be happier? I wonder why they seem to always survive, even when evil happens to them. Hmmm! Okey is neither the first nor the second, I’ve seen lots of good ones suffering evil, while the bad thrive. I’ve seen more of bad ones occupying the best of positions, and I’ve seen them having the best of spouse, kids, jobs and appointments; while the good keep suffering the worst blow. I don’t want to be sadder let me stop here, I’ve a whole lot to deal with now, especially how to calm Okey’s mother down.
“Charley nwa m oo, where is Okey?” She held my collar, shaking me violently, bringing me back from my mind-wandering; the cry of a widow for the death of her only child. My eyes are as open as the bullet wounds that riddled Okey’s heart; he was just in the bank to withdraw some money for the charity he has planned. Okey was my best friend, the brother I never had. He was a good man, a kindhearted man ready to cry for others to laugh. Okey paid my school fees with the little money he made as a phone repairer all the time we were in the university. Okey fed me, sheltered me, clothed me for all the years I was jobless until he found me a job. If I were to list lives Okey saved, tears he dried and stomach he fed, then it would take longer than it took him struggling in the hospital to survive. It would be much longer than it took the armed robbers to rob the bank and shoot him. But death was stronger than him; I knew he fought to stay alive because he wanted to touch more lives too; he wanted to become fathers to more orphans, and husbands to more widows.
One thing, I’ve failed to and will never do is to blame God, rather I’ll blame the devil for making life miserable for good people. I’ll also not be pusillanimous to say such a crass and gibberish statement that God gives and takes too. But my hope is in God, because I know that the reward of the good ones will be abundant even though they die.
I will really miss you so dearly Okechukwu; and I promise to start from where you stopped, putting smiles on people’s faces. Your mother I will continue to take as my mother.
Adieu a brother and a friend. Tears …………..
“Mama I will cry with you, till your tears dry.”