Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Take joy, brother

(To Chidi Iroanusi Azuonye 1963-1982)

Five days ago, our brother Chike turned 49. I called him up and wished him a very happy birthday. He was very pleased. Actually he was on top of the world because my phone call came at the very moment his daughter Hannah was giving him a command vocal and piano performance, her angelic voice charged the air. I let them be in that world of songs as I awaited my own milestone.

Four days ago, I turned 40. At the stroke of midnight, my wife Thelma Nwamamaka hugged me a happy 40th birthday. I was still hanging on her when Pastor Yemisi Bamgbose's text message arrived covering me, my wife and our young son, Arinzechukwu Chinedum with prayers as I march into the 41st year of my present incarnation. As the day wore on, prayers and goodwill messages poured in from all over the place. I was particularly excited to receive these from our brothers Uzoma, Chike and Kodi, and from Ike Anya, Okwudili Ojukwu, Rakesh Shah, Roy Witter, Ray Thompson, Jacky Nawell, Anthony Nweke, Patrick Iberi, Grace - Pastor Solola's wife, Deacon Yemi, Uju Asoegwu, and Richard Butcher among others. Of the birthday cards I received, the most amazing were of course from Thelma and Arinze who borrowed mummy's hand to write the message on the card, well, he is just under four months old. I ended the day with an absolutely sumptuous meal of Oha Soup and Pounded Yam.

Today, as I finished breakfast, I remembered as I have done every year since I became conscious of your being, that the 16th day of July was your birthday, and that July 16th 2007 should have been your 44th birthday. But then, you left us when you were only 19 years old, claimed by that aweful automobile accident at Ijebu-Igbo in 1982. That crash not only claimed you, but it also claimed your dream of becoming a medical doctor - a saver of lives. It also robbed us of the music that filled our hearts every time you sat at a piano and played. It robbed us of the laughter you birthed with the fine cartoons you drew for your college magazines, and the beauty of the words in the poetry you wrote.

I did not intend this birthday wish to get so long. I just thought I should fill you in - in as much detail as sanely and decently possible. I don't want to be accused of holding on to the past, holding on to you and not letting you get on with your life's journey, yet I can't help, especially when something great happens to me, wondering how your life might have turned out if you had lived. Perhaps like me, you'd be a husband and a father. Perhaps you might have called me on my 40th birthday. Better still, you might have visited with your family to have my birthday meal together. Ah, brother, you and Thelma would have been great friends, and Arinze, you would have loved him to bits.

Anyway, I happen to believe that you are alive and kicking in one of many dimensions. Perhaps you have reincarnated already? The important thing is for you, wherever you are to feel the love in this birthday message. Stay well now, brother. I don't know if I should keep sending you messages. However, if it pleases God, I shall definitely write in on your 45th, next year. By that time, we would have celebrated mama's 80th in March 2008. Well, I guess you know already somehow, mama is OK. She forgets some things here and some things there these days, and mixes up people now and then, but she is in relative good health considering, she is 79 and counting and that is something to give thanks to the Almighty God for.

God bless you Chidi. May God nurture and protect your beautiful essence.

Your brother

Nnorom Azuonye
London, July 16, 2007