“1955 was a very great year”
That was the caption on the most beautiful birthday card I have ever seen in my entire life!
The card came in 3 folds and there were descriptions and animated illustrations of great events that happened that year and then, the closing line to cap it all off was:
“And then, you were born!”
The card was one of the many gifts my dad’s friends, they fondly called themselves ‘Friendship circle of Nigeria’, presented him on his 40th birthday. This day was 23rd of june, 1995.
I didn’t cry when my dad died.
My dad attended an adult class to learn a bit of fiqh and how to read the Qur’an, he told a story of how a few months to his class’ graduation, he couldn’t read a word of the Glorious Qur’an, he couldn’t cope, he wasn’t able to move with his peers, how he was lagging while his classmates were flying, he was struck out of the class graduation list and then just when the whole world thought he wasn’t going to graduate with his class, the miracle started unfolding before everyone’s eyes. My dad started catching up and on the 11th of November, when the ‘pupils’ of Dawah intensive weekend arabic course class of ’94 had their graduation, a certain man with the brightest smile in the world was seen filing out with the graduands: the man was my dad!
Less than a month from this day, precisely 4th of december, he was seen standing with his wife and his first son receiving the certificate of Qur’an graduation for his first son too.
But I didn’t cry when the man died.
I was a brilliant boy, I used to top class in my elementary school days. My parents were used to seeing me at the top of the log, I was a local champ and my immediate environment was used to it too. But when in 1997, the local champ found himself 3rd on the log in first year in high school, my dad was metaphorically shocked such that he took out time and visited Ansar Ud deen college to see for himself little Mr Inegbese Philip and Awolusi Taiwo, the man smiled, patted both lads on the back and moved on.
But I didn’t cry when he died.
One night in the same year, I asked my dad what Bucknor meant, he told a story very intelligently which I now think is probably a myth of how greatest grandpa Bucknor was a nomadic sailor who had sweet tongue and gets any woman he wishes, he went on saying ancestor Bucknor was actually a Portuguese who had wives every where he went on the west African coast and so, that explains why we had relatives all over the coast of west Africa!
Later that year, My dad and I took a road trip to Agouè, a very beautiful little village in the people’s republic of Benin where a kind of family reunion was held, that was my first time off the border of Nigeria and it was just the two of us!
But I didn’t cry when he died!
June 1998, my dad fell Ill and was admitted at Mount Sinai hospital. We visited him, for the illness really knocked him out. He was a strong man beyond life itself and when he was bed ridden, it was an eye opener for everyone. Two days later from when my dad fell ill, I was admitted too, I had fallen ill!
My dad was certified fit days later but the man didn’t Leave the hospital. On the day Nigeria was to play Bulgaria at France ’98 world cup, a very ill me insisted I had to see the game, there was no TV in my ward, my dad practically carried me to the reception, I am sure I didn’t see up to 10 minutes of the game before I drifted off.
Next I opened my eyes the next morning, I was back on my ward bed. Legend said my dad carried me back there. I looked to my right, the man was smiling back at me, patted my head and relaxed his back on the bed next to me which had no sheet.
Apparently, he had been told to go home but he chose to stay – with me! We left the hospital together on the same day, although he had been certified fit and discharged days earlier.
But I didn’t cry when he died!
I would have probably cried if I was half the man my dad was. The man was fearless and was practically living more for others than for himself. My dad will make sure everyone around him fared well even if he had so little, he would even give out of the little he had to friends, families and even strangers.
My dad will take time out to cook a meal for the home, he was a great cook too and he cooked delicacies, usually not your everyday meal. I initially find it hard knowing the hand he uses, for he stirs soup from the pot with his left. I suspect he was initially a left handed fellow before Alhaja reset his hand usage orientation.
My dad aided this skill I seem to have, my dad enhanced my reading skill and writing leanings, my dad influenced my never give up attitude, the service to others inclination, my dad inspired me beyond measures.
But my dad wasn’t born a saint!
My dad was your usual Lagos island boy, your proper isale eko guy who did all ‘omoboy’ stuffs except indulging in crime but my dad turned out a very good man such that he was said to have whispered the Shaadah as his last breath!
And so I believed, even if i wasn’t there, for once when he couldn’t talk and was struggling with his speech during his last days, he was given zam zam water and my dad’s first statement was; Allahu Akbar (God is Great) repeatedly. And so, because my dad was said to have whispered the shaadah and because I was the weakest human in the world at that point, I shut out the wailings around me and his life and struggles flashed before my eyes and I couldn’t cry.
I didn’t cry when he died but I went in where he was laid to rest and sobbed gently on his lifeless heart! I didn’t cry when my dad died but I wailed uncontrollably when he was lowered into mother earth.
I didn’t cry when my dad died but I have cried at intervals in the last 16 years and sobbed when penning this piece.
I have everything he did in my head, I remember the kind of man my dad was, I wish I could be half the man he was, I wish I could possess half the heart he had but I can’t tell all. I can’t go on, for I’d become a bore and I’d probably shed bucket full of tears.
I didn’t cry when my dad died but now, I am in tears!
‘Lanre Bucknor writes from Lagos and would have named this 1955 but then, what would have happened to 2001? For, every man have two sure days; the good and the bad days as well as the day he was born and the day he dies.
But then, glorious Qur’an already told us something very instructive in Q2:156.
‘Lanre can be further engaged on twitter and instagram via @lordrooz