Dear brother, my pain is so deep yet I feel numb. As I write this tribute, I care less about my literary prowess for at this point; nothing else matters. Your sudden exit has left a deep dark void in our lives, and our heart’s struggling with rhythm. The only rhythm we long to hear and listen to is the rhythm that comes from your drum sticks, your light rich laughter and your light footsteps approaching mama’s door.
Dear Solomon, where are you? How did it happen? What went wrong? Who took you away from us? Why did it happen? Did you struggle? Did you scream, did you speak, did you pray, what did you feel, how did you feel, did you see anything, did you know that you’d be gone too soon away from us? Did you see it coming? Were you ready? Did you accept it? Did you fight for your life and failed or did you just give in?
Did you think of me the most stubborn of the bunch, of mama your heart beat, of Grace your best friend, of Ubong who looks more and more like you everyday, of Victor whose complexity you never seemed to get, of Dorothy whose laughter makes you shake your head and roll your eyes fondly, of Ini whose children you made yours in love? Did you think of us?
Did you think of Mrs. Omolade, Ochuko, Tayo, Chucks and Foursquare Gospel Church? Did you think of your vision; Drum Network Africa? Did you think of mama?
Solomon Owoidoho Elijah, my brother, my blood, my heart, we miss you. Mama is heart broken. Did you know that you were her backbone? You were her legs, you were her confidante after papa’s death. You were her husband and her friend. You were her work time keeper, you were her brother, you were her tea supplier and now that you’re no more, she feels empty even though she has 6 more of us. Owoidoho, Mama misses you and she cries every single day. She blames herself for allowing you move to your new apartment. She blames herself for not being there to protect you from whatever took you. She blames herself for not being able to fight for you and now, she only wishes for the cruel hands of death to lead her to you.
As I write, I’m at work. I try to look normal but everything inside me is a pile of crumbled walls. On the outside, I’m numb. It’s so hard to maintain sanity; I feel insane as I think I see you when I close my eyes but then, it’s all a figment of my imagination. Insomnia is my newest best friend as I plead her comfort to help me stay up with the hope of seeing you but then, I dose off in the early hours of the morning after waiting to no avail.
Dear brother, Akpan Nyin, Owoidohobong, Soulman, I miss you so much. I wish you weren’t gone. These days, I choose my words when thinking or talking of you. I hate speaking of you in the past tense because I still feel you around. In my mind’s eye, I still see you returning home from your busy day. I still hear your voice via your phone calls asking me in your usual funny way;
“How far? Why you dey cry? You just dey show yourself. Oya clean your eyes jor”
Dear brother, I can’t equate the pain I feel. Everyday is a struggle. When Papa died, I thought I felt pain; what I feel right now is worse. I’m torn, I feel so raw, I feel like there’s Cameroon pepper poured on my inner organs. I feel so much pain I can’t even cry. I’m afraid I’ll crash one day. My thoughts are incoherent, my smile is fake, my flesh is weak, food has become toxic, my clothes no longer fit.
People say that it’ll take time for me, for us all to heal but I don’t want to heal. I don’t want to stop believing that you’re still alive. I don’t want to find closure. I don’t want to be alright. I want you back in my life however way you want to make it happen, I wish it.
I miss you so much life has become blurry to my sight; Mama longs for you, Grace is wounded, Ubong has gone mute and numb, Victor buries himself in his work to buy distraction but he’s in shock. Mrs. Omolade is torn, Your choir misses you and Drum Network Africa, your legacy misses you but will live on for you.
Dear brother, sleep well, rest well, heed not to the voice of the wicked who would want to trouble your rest. When it suits you, visit us and with your kind heart, bless us with your strength to carry on your legacy, your goodness and impact in your new world; reign as the king you are and when you see Papa, tell him we miss him too. Tell him we still see him in our dreams.
Dear brother, you are legend
You are a rare gem
You are Soulman Eli
You are the Son of Elijah
You are forever in my heart, in our hearts.
It’s never goodbye; not yet.