My Father’s Death Was My Resurrection | by Osuchukwu Mark Anthony

Posted on Posted in Featured Creatives, Writers

My father knew I was a man before I became a man. The act of becoming and the reality of becoming may be used interchangeably. Stories have it that I was named immediately my mother took in. My father defied the odds of “what if it is a girl in there?” and went on to give me a masculine name and not even a ‘unisex’ name that will fit whatever the outcome was. He named me Obumneme and Mark Anthony which conventionally are masculine names.

According to the story of my birth by my mother, she said she began to have pre-labor pains and signs in her hostel in the University of Nigeria Nsukka and there was no phone to call my father who was in Onitsha to come and help carry the cross which he was in fact the chief carpenter. My mother’s roommates took her to bishop Shanahan hospital and left her there to go and prepare for their final examinations. My mother who was a finalist too was in the hospital preparing to skip the FINAL hurdle of child bearing which I feel was a better final exam. Nobody in Onitsha was aware of my mother’s present predicament. No phone (I wonder how they coped) to call grand ma or even her elder sister.
Mother said that the next morning, my father had already boarded a bus to Nsukka to visit his wife without the knowledge of her state. Getting to her hostel, her friends told him she had been in the hospital since yesterday. He asked for the hospital and rushed to the address given to him. He walked in when I was deflowering my virgin eyes with its first droplets of tears. The doctor walked out of the room as usual leaving the room for the nurses and mother. My father walked up to him and asked him if his wife was as healthy as his son who was just crying. Doctor was confused and asked who he was. Father said “I am the father of Obumneme the boy crying now. Can I go and see my wife?” the nonplussed doctor Okayed and he went into the labor room…
April 17 2013, at around 3pm, I called my father on the phone and he was sounding like an extroverted introvert. Read our conversation;
Father: hello! Junior kedu ije gi?
Junior: (Whenever he spoke Igbo to me, I felt important. Because I and my siblings saw Igbo as ‘big peoples’ way of communicating) I chuckled and said “ Adim mma”
Father: how was today’s paper and what do you have tomorrow?
Junior: today’s exam was ok but I have GS 101 tomorrow. Daddy you know I don’t know anything in math. I am scared.
Father: junior kwusi your nkoyeri and go and prepare for tomorrow. I will call when I get to Onitsha. I am in Awka now.
Junior: hahahaha(you need to hear how my father said ‘nkoyeri’. You will keep doing things that will elicit the word) I hung up.
That was practically the last time I spoke to my father in my life. He didn’t call again; I was busy engaging in group readings where I mocked mathematics and the students who knew it too well. I never knew God had excused my dad from the world. Night fell and I got tired of mocking people or was something inside inside telling me to be calm that sorrow awaited me? I can’t tell now. Out of the blues, a friend who doubled as a family friend had been called from home to stay with me throughout the night without telling me how fatherless I had become. He called and asked where I was. I told him and he walked up to me all smiles and a lively gusto. He was good in math so he opted to teach me that night. Painfully, it didn’t occur to me that that was a measure to keep me in check. I stupidly followed him to go and solve math. While we were solving, I would see him wipe his eye with the back of his palm, I would hear his voice shake in sorrow. I noticed all these but I didn’t notice them well.
On the 18th day of April 2013 in the early morning, the day was very young. Young that it hadn’t grown breasts. My cousin who was in the school with me drove to my hostel and came to my room. I think it was around 6:01 am or so. It doesn’t happen. I mean, how could my cousin who doesn’t gamble with his sleep leave his lodge to visit me by such ungodly hour. Then, I became shaky; he asked where my phone was. I unlocked it and gave it to him and went out to brush my teeth. When I came inside the room, he was asking me how to activate call divert on my phone. I said “bia Daniel ogini?
He said he wanted to know because he bought that kind of phone the previous day. That lie wasn’t a smart one. I began to ask questions. ‘wetin dey happen?’ ‘Mummy call you?’ and other questions I used to subdue my fears. Next thing, he left with my phone and said he was coming but I should make sure I wrote my exams.
I became shakier!
My bones were feeble; they couldn’t carry me any longer. I ran to the next room to ask for phone to make a call. Everybody around didn’t have airtime. I felt it was planned. I felt I was doing a movie.
I ran to Ebube’s room and he said I should only make a minute call. Boom! I dialed my father’s number and it was SWITCHED OFF.
In my father’s career of phone having, it has never happened. I called my mother. Read our conversation:
Junior: hello! Hello! Mummy where is daddy?
Mummy: Hian! So you cannot greet ordinary good morning?
Junior: sorry good morning. Oya where is daddy?
Mummy: he just went down stair now now! Ogini? What happened?
Junior: Why is his phone off mummy?
Mummy: Because there was no light last night and the gen didn’t stay long.
Junior: mummy tell me the truth! What happened to daddy?
Mummy: nekwa this boy o! Junior daddy is in the house, after your exam come and see daddy at home.
At this point, her voice forgot it was programmed to pretend all was well. She sighed with tears and pain. Then, I knew that it was over but I needed a confirmation.
During the exams, I was heavy. I knew I had a problem but I couldn’t say what exactly my problem was. An invigilator asked me to stand and changed my seat and I refused. I became aggressive for nothing, I was stern looking. Truly, I was ready to lose my admission because I needed to slap that man. I saw him as the cause of my problem.
After that problem, a girl came to play rough play with me, I spoke harshly to her and she said I was a mad person. I accepted that I was mad but the information didn’t come at a right time. I almost misbehaved that day but I respected myself.
After the exams, I and my roommate at the time went to the room. At that time, I was waiting for what I can’t explain. Maybe the anticipated news or something. Then, someone called him and in the process of answering the call, his face changed. After he hung up, he smiled and requested I calmed down and sat down. I knew I was fatherless but I needed a confirmation. Read our conversation:
Victor: oboi! Your papa don kpai!
Banks: how? (Eyes soaking)
I left the room to the other room and let liquid pain and sorrow gush down my cheeks. I cried; I knelt down to ask God why? ‘Why’ couldn’t come out. I got tired of crying.
I remembered my tiny brothers in secondary school and how this news will meet them. I cried some more.
I remembered my mom and how hollow she will feel after this. I cried a little more.
I thought of myself who liked beginning most of my talks with “my father said…” I let go of many things and cried my heart out.
When I felt it was enough for a start, I packed a few clothes and told my guy I was going to see MY family. It was my family now. The head had gone; the neck grew into a new head.

In the park, I bought a white handkerchief for any stray tear that might feel like embarrassing itself. I climbed to the front of the vehicle. Sitting next to the door, a man walked to the bus and said he wants to sit with me and I will go inside while he stayed close to the door. In my head, I was thinking this man to be a fool and a devil. He opened the door himself and asked me to shift. When I shifted, he climbed in and banged the door. Tears where gathering for a meeting that would elicit emotional water.
Driver kicks engine, we embark on a journey to Onitsha. On the road, I was sobbing bitterly because I couldn’t understand how I will go home and not see my dad.
The man looked at me when I was crying and said “IT IS OKAY”, I didn’t understand what his problem was. I don’t know you! You don’t know me and you’re telling me it is okay without asking what the problem was. I didn’t talk to the man and his ‘it’s okay’. I ignored two of them. Then, he began to encourage me; telling me that everything will definitely be fine. He told me some other things that the author of this piece will not like to make public for now.
After he said those things to me, he told the driver to pull over that he has gotten to where he was going. I was confused! Who stops in the bush? Since I started plying that road, pesin never stop for that place. Whoever the man was, the things he said to me are the things I have been experiencing since.
When I got to my compound, people couldn’t get their eyes off me. They looked at me with pity. I began to hear the words of their gazing. “see fine children wey this man leave go die” “how this boys go survive?”… I heard them too well, I felt sorry for myself, and I didn’t know what and how to do anything again. Climbing the stairs, I let out a very loud moan, I clutched my chest and bent a little letting my tears to kiss the stairs where he walked out from that fateful evening. I wiped my tears and got to the door of my house and peeped through a hole in our protector and I saw before me different types of foot wears that told stories to me. Footwear’s owned by family, friends, enemies and hypocrites who came to sympathize with the family of the man they never gave a fuck about. I opened the door and walked into my house going straight to where my mother was lying surrounded my people. Some were singing, some were fanning her, some where there sitting down looking around like starving reptiles. I stood before my mother and she dropped a tear, I dropped a tear, we cried together until I went into the room to see my brothers. The last one said “junior daddy has died”, I couldn’t stand looking them in the face yet. I entered the toilet and wept, I emptied my tear reservoir. (That was where I did my major crying)
I came out and asked them how daddy was looking that evening before he went out to die. So, my fatherlessness was confirmed that day…
Hebrews 10 vs. 9: “…He taketh away the first that He may establish the second”
In the words of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, “The darker the night, the brighter the stars, the deeper the grief, the closer is God!”
The darkest moment of my life was when I discovered what I could do. After the burial of my father, the traffic in our house reduced and we knew peace, sanity and loneliness. When sympathizers sympathized enough, they stopped sympathizing and left with the remains of sympathy on their lips. Then, reality hit me, so hard that I became a victim of reality. I came to embrace the brutal reality that if you succeed, you are on your own, if you fail, you are on your own too. I now understood that it is not a matter of being a fine boy or a matter of speaking long grammars. I knew it wasn’t a collective thing; it became an individual stuff for me. I began to have the drive to stand out, the drive to give meaning to my useless life at the time, the thirst to at least use my brain effectively (Not academically though).
I scampered in the dark for quite a long time until I found light, little light which has turned to a bigger light now. After I found light, it dawned on me that if you don’t stand out as a success, you stand out as a failure. The latter is obviously my thing. My father had failed on my behalf and I am here to succeed on behalf of my kids.
I resurrected! Every dead thing in me was given life by the truth that the resuscitator I had was gone.
I became a man. If father was still alive today, I know what my condition would have been now. Then, I didn’t have thoughts of my own. My father was thinking on my behalf and I was grateful, I mean; I felt honored. Now, I have thoughts of my own and I feel more honored by putting my brain to work and channeling my creativity to the right side of life.
Today makes it three years my old man closed his eyes and refused to open it.
Today makes it three years my hope of knowing full happiness fell flat like grandmas breast.
Today makes it three years I resurrected and became ME!
Today makes it three years I began to have a fair idea of LIFE!
Today is many things.
Today is immortal!
Finally, I look at myself today and I smile. I stretch my lip muscle to the end. Why? Because I know that I am doing the right thing and my father who is peeping from the window blinds in heaven is really happy with what his son has become. I HAVE BECOME THAT MAN HE KNEW I WAS BEFORE I WAS BORN!

The above is an excerpt from Osuchukwu’s upcoming memoir. Be on the lookout for more information

2 thoughts on “My Father’s Death Was My Resurrection | by Osuchukwu Mark Anthony

  1. Wow! Am I really crying.

    This is so inspiring. I couldn’t let go of reading inbetween it’s lines…

    You are so good at what you do.


  2. I’m really inspired. This write-up by an awesome writer, Obumneme, Mark Anthony will forever create a positive impact to all that will will come across it! Truly, you’re in charge bro!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *