Friday, September 17, 2010

To Toby: This One’s For You

I attended 4 primary schools in all, and this post is about the last one, or the people in it. It was a medium sized school, and in my class, we were just 5 students, one of whom was the son of the proprietress, his name was Toby. You see, I’ve always had a bad mouth, but I think 2 of my classmates helped develop it tremendously. Those 2 classmates were Toby and another guy, Somto. They would tease me mercilessly about different things, and sometimes I would try to fight them – and of course they’d beat me. They were boys, after all. That was how/why I developed my bad mouth – to fight back. Each time they tried to tease me, I’d counter with a meaner statement, and they soon learned to leave me alone. After that period, we became friends, and in terms of academic work, Toby always came 1st, I came 2nd, and Somto always came 3rd. I tried my very best to beat Toby to 1st position, but most times, it just didn’t work – I think I came 1st only about 4 times, throughout my stay in that school. Anyway, Toby & I always got chosen to act all those primary school plays, or sing in the school choir, or represent the school – you know, stuff like that. Even for secondary school entrance exams, we would go together, and I think he beat me in all of them, because I was always just a few points behind. I remember his Common Entrance score was 538, while mine was 534. I never envied him though [but I envied his lunch sha, my mum used to give me cake and juice to take to school, his mum used to give him indomie and egg – you know, “the grass is always greener” syndrome], I was just being competitive, and we were good friends. I remember our primary school graduation ceremony, I came 1st and every, and then that was the time they chose not to give the prizes during the ceremony, they said we should come to school later and collect them. My mum was so pissed, she said the proprietress did that because she couldn’t stand the fact that her own son [Toby] didn’t come 1st. I on the other hand, was indifferent.

Sadly, after primary school, we lost touch [as there were no cell phones then, and even if there were, my folks would definitely not have gotten me one], and I didn’t see Toby again, until I was in my 200 level in uni. That day, I was rushing out of the bank, on my way to the airport because I was late for my flight and mumsy wanted me to be on that flight by all means. So Toby saw me, came up to the car, and was trying to say hello. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t recognize him after all those years, but frankly, I couldn’t even say a polite “hello, how have you been? I’m rushing for something, so I can’t chat now…..”. I really can’t remember what it is that I said, but I think it was just “hi”.

Two years ago, we moved house, and after we moved, I discovered that Somto lives very close to my house, on the street before mine. I met him one day, as I was going to get something. We chatted for a bit, and he filled me in on the past 9 years, he told me where all my classmates were, Toby was in UNN, studying Mechanical Engr. After that, Somto and I kept in touch on and off, on phone, but I didn’t see him again, until yesterday, when he came visiting. I was surprised, to say the least, because I didn’t think he knew my crib. Anyway, he greeted my mum, and [since she knew all my primary school classmates,] she asked after Toby. Somto’s face became crestfallen, and he said “he’s dead”. What da???? The proprietress’s husband died a short while after I left primary school, Toby was her only child, and now he too is dead? How? Somto said he just slumped and died – and that’s the exact same way his dad died. He was a doctor, about to operate on a patient, and he just slumped. When I heard Toby died, I remembered that day I was rushing for my flight, and how I couldn’t take time to talk to him. I couldn’t have known that would be the last time, but I could have at least…..talked to him, collected his phone number or something.

He died May 26th, 2010. I wonder what his mum would do now [I sincerely hope she doesn’t hate God for all of this], and I regret not talking to him. There’s a thanksgiving service in his honor tomorrow, I think I’ll attend.

People, I hate to sound clich├ęd, but life is short, take time to smell the flowers, keep in touch with your friends and loved ones, learn to slow down sometimes, forgive, you know every.

And just incase you were wondering, yeah I missed that flight.

R.I.P Toby Ezeanyagu, you’ll be sorely missed, even though the last time we had a real conversation was about 11 years ago.

Hope you guys have a lovely weekend.