When I was much younger, my favourite newspaper was Vanguard, firstly because the front page had the hilarious cartoon “Mr. & Mrs.” illustrated by Dada Adekola with snippets of funny conversations between husbands and wives.
I liked Vanguard for another reason, a weekly column named “Sketches” written by Mr. Aig-Imoukhuede, it was a delightful satire. He had a way with words, he was the breed of Nigerians from the era of the brand new and promising Nigeria. His grasp of grammar was wonderful; words laced with wit and humour that caught one both aware and unawares. Ah! It was splendid.
He’d take the most random incident, a person he had met, the conversation that he’d had with them, something that had happened to him or simply the state of the nation and he’d relay the story in a captivating, mirthful style. It seemed so effortless the way he did it. At one point, I started cutting out the column each week and stored the pages in a flat file.
I appreciated Mr. Aig so much, that I decided to write him a letter, telling him that I was a big fan and enjoyed reading his column. I went as far as writing down the Vanguard Newspaper’s postal address, but for some reason, I kept postponing it. Over and over, I’d tell myself “I will do it tomorrow”. The Tomorrows seemed endless.
And then, I forgot all about it. The written-down address remained tucked away in this brown wooden cupboard that used to be my boarding school locker.
A few years later, in February 2007, I was browsing the internet and I saw an article that someone had written. It was mostly a Eulogy; and in it they’d announced the death of Mr. Aig the month before at 75, and included a brief biography. I got to know him even better, but he would never get to know how I felt about him. He was gone.
The realization struck me like a blow, I crumpled over my reading table and wept in such anguish, it felt like I’d lost something that I could never grasp again.
He never got to see my letter, he never knew how much I admired his writing, how he inspired me to dance with words, how I appreciated the way he’d showed me that words could be used to convey a meaningful message even when married with humour and wit.
The pain is still somewhat fresh even as I typed this; there was a tightening in my chest as I remembered that day in front of my computer. I still wish I had written and sent that letter.
I’ve learned that Procrastination is the easy route, it is as convenient as a lazy Saturday in bed munching hot akara, but Regret- that ‘woulda-coulda-shoulda’ feeling- is so excruciatingly painful, it almost feels like Grief. Perhaps it is, for what else best describes mourning the death of something that might have been but never was and never will be?
Try not to take Time for granted, just do it.
“Procrastination is my sin. It brings me naught but sorrow. I know that I should stop it. In fact, I will…tomorrow” ― Gloria Pitzer
PS: When I finished writing this post, I decided to do an online search for an image of the Sketches page, and it led me to a serendipitous discovery of my old abandoned blog, I’d even forgotten all about it. It was there that I first wrote about this. Someone had kindly left me a comment with Mr. Aig’s daughter’s name and email address, I recall that I was quite shy at the time to contact her.
Well, I wrote her a few days ago and she sent me a heartwarming response. 🙂