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Letter to my father

Denrele Animasaun

Whenever an elder dies, a library burns down.

Amadou Hampâté Bâ

Dear Daddi mi,

I still can not believe you are gone, never to hear your voice again.  Who is going to call me, in the midst of what I call being busy. You  just  call me because you want to  hear my voice and know that I’m alright?  If I am working late, you leave a message like you were writing me a letter, you will say; this is Kola Animasaun here, your father (-as if I do not know that)

Late Kola Animasaun

Then when  I call you, I will call you by your full name(dont blame me, my little sister started the trend but it’s so endearing) and then, you respond by saying;Ade mi.  Oh how I wish, you  could call me again. The way you say my name always makes me feel like a kid being wrapped up in love by a loving parent.

You always start every conversation with Alhamdulilla, finish by ;and we will see, InshAllah.

I feel safe when you begin our greetings with; Assalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh . My children take delight and they are convinced that only their grandad lay special emphasis on: Wabarakatuh.

When I call you on the phone, and I say;Daddi mi and you reply Ade mi. I am going to miss your kindness and your telepathic timing when you just know, I needed a call from you. Everytime we finish speaking and I always feel that everything is again right with the world.

I want you to know, we are going to be fine and your darling wife, Ayinkus Modupeola Silphat, will be loved and taken care of, wrapped up in warm embrace by not just your children but by the extended wall of love that you and  mum watered and nursed through the years. You say she is your pet, she is so lovable, she has not changed. Still the mother hen. We have been inundated with numerous stories of people you have helped in cash and deeds.  The whole area has never seen anything like your passing. Hundreds followed your body to your final resting place, many have been coming to pay their respects to mum. The house is full to the rafters.

Their outpouring of emotion typifies your character and exemplary life. You are indeed a generous soul and what a man!  You know, I can hear you say; I am just doing what Allah asked of me.   You are going to be a tough gig to follow but then you know that and you have always said; be yourself and follow your truth. I will and I’m going to do exactly that.

You have prepared me and my siblings for this day but, we never wanted it to come this soon. I am 55 years old and  so why do I feel abandoned?  I feel some part of me is missing but I know I am complete.

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I am going through the stages of grief so please bear with me while I process your loss.  I am going to be fine once I stop being an emotional mess.

I will be brave and in time I know, I will be talking about you without bursting into tears in months to come. Right now, I am finding it hard to be brave.

Gov Rauf and many others came to visit mum. They said you were their mentor. They are going to miss you sending them Jummah prayers on their mobiles.

You are and always will be the first man who loved me unconditionally and with whom I learnt life lessons by your exemplary life.We left nothing unsaid, we have no unresolved issues but I am selfish to say that I didn’t want you to die.  I can hear your cackle, so pleased you will find it amusing.

Everyone loves their dad but, I can say that you, daddi mi, you are my hero of all time. You have left us your blueprints everywhere we look, your books, your columns, your letters, the people that you touched their lives positively and your extended families.  We are so blessed.

I tell you this all the time in your living years and you would smile that smile of yours, I am going to miss it so much. I see you in my siblings, your grandchildren and great grand son.

Yes, I had one dad and you were one helluva father.  As long as I live, I am going to tell people how much you shaped my life and my thinking.Who will I call to discuss my angle when I am choosing a subject or topic for my column,? I can you hear you say, I have done my bit,its your turn now.  Daddi mi, you sure did.

Who do I get an editorial opinion from, when I sail too close to the wind and you tell me to go further and give them the bitter truth? In the last 10 years since taking up the pen for Outside Looking in, I got to know more of Nigerians,share the frustrations and the despondency with you. You gave me the courage to tell my perspectives without leaving the shores.

You were a proud father, when your Voice of Reason fans became my fans, I could tell how happy it made you.

Whenever the trolls wrote their poisonous verbiage, you reassure me that, you, yourself a seasoned columnist had a fair share of their nonsense and you fill me with Parental courage that I should pay no mind but focus on telling the truth.

Every Sunday, I look forward to you and mum’s take on my literary offer, you were proud,so proud and I know it.

You loved your children and gave each one the love and attention they individually deserved.We did not have to jostle for your attention,you made us all confident in your love and attention.

We could not imagine that you will leave us this way, although, you prepared us for this time many years back. When you jokingly mention that, you can go anytime, we change the subject or try to make light of things. You said it, we just did not want to know. Everytime you and I depart, you always remind me that, maybe this may be the last time we will see. I want you to know I treasured every moment we met and departed.

I found your letters you sent me from decades back, before WhatsApp and mobile phones.  I will read them when I need to hear you and your support.  You really cared, you are my hero and you always make me feel ten feet tall.  I have told you this throughout your living years, so there is no change here.

You admired my toughness and independence.  You tell me always that I am the embodiment of your formidable mother,Ayisat. Am not sure, I was that fierce but you always tell me that I am. I want you to know that it is you, that gave me the courage. Everything that I have always done, I could not wait to tell you and you were always so proud and pleased.  So pleased I shared with you that I was on the feature page of my professional journal in the UK and in it,I mentioned that you, yes you are my inspiration.  Mum read it to you and you had that lovely glow .   Mum always accused me playfully that I only want to speak to my dad  before her. Yes, I am guilty. You then will jokingly plead that I better speak to your mum or she will be so jealous.  This was our thing. It has always been dad first then mum.

So glad it was because it may be because, I needed to cram all my time with you in your living years.

I know mum was pleased that we loved you the way we did. I mean, what was there not to love? You were so lovable and spending time with you was very precious, and I cherished every single moment.

You painted my front door when you came to visit me in the UK, you would look into my fridge and do my shopping, you paid for my nursing registration  not because I could not afford it but because you wanted to.  Mum will tell us how you will wake early to make her tea, you start up the generator, you  were meticulous in your forward thinking.

You had got your burial shroud  ready  many years ago but you offered the first one when a young relative unexpectedly died. You never leave anything to chance. I love the way you helped me organise my affairs from afar.

Just to let you know, I have saved your messages on my phone and when I am strong enough, I will sit and listen to your voice again and again.  We truly lived in moments and we had loads of them.

You taught me to treasure moments and we did. We have so much to look back on, your surprise 70th  birthday at my place when you returned from Istanbul.  And we had several misses;your mini stroke at 69, your car accident a decade before, your skirmishes with military heads.  You gave your wife grey hairs and us, well, you mischievously tell us that, that we will almost die sometime.  You have been preparing us for this moment for decades and I think, we got so complacent or possibly just did not want to accept the fact that we are not in this physical plain forever, life is transient and you tutored us well .

I am no longer afraid,when my time comes, dad. I welcome my time when Allah wills it in the meantime, I will make you proud and your legacy is safe.

May Allah  grant you Al Jannah firdaus….. Sun re ooo  Sootofaiye of Aiyede Ekiti, Baba Adinni of Gbagura, Akede Adinni of Shitta-Bey Mosque and Agbeesinga Adinni of Dopemu.

 

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