By Iwara U. Iwara
At exactly 03.03 pm on Wednesday, August 13, 2015, my friend and classmate, Ken Asim-Ittah put out a short, unsettling and terse message on his Facebook page; “God knows best…Adieu”. The display picture beneath the words showed nine wind caressed flickering candles; I knew this was not good news by any standard. In between a short burst of muted prayers I put a call across to Ken, hoping to hear that one ripe member had joined the saints triumphant; it was not to be. With a very heavy heart, Ken told me that a young 26-year old helicopter pilot just flew his last flight, one that was five minutes from landing, but twisted by fate into the unwelcoming embrace of the Lagos lagoon.
My first thoughts after the call ended went to the family of the young man, especially his father and mother. I mean, what father and mother will ever be consoled by the death of an exceptional only son? Begin to ask; don’t good parents pray that we their children live longer than them? Whoever intercepted this prayer fervently rendered by the good parents of the helicopter pilot, P. K. Bello Snr and his dear wife? Can his family ever be the same again? The questions can NEVER end.
See, this was a young man who I hear made his mother his next-of-kin in his employment papers. Asked why he chose to do that, he simply responded, “with all my mother has done for me, this is the least I could do”. Believe me, not many of us can put up with this kind of gesture for our hardworking mothers, it will blow any mother’s heart…and this is what death just took away from this family.
Clearly, death makes blind choices; it picks at will the hardworking man and woman, just like it does the lazy ones. It is sinisterly blooded by our lamentations and tears as it goes for the young and the old, the strong and the infirm, the liked as well as the hated. I can imagine too that as tears, the outward sign of our inward grieve flow, in putrid amusement, death walks around striking the faint chords that string the music of our existence just so our wailings can come out as a chorus meant for her deaf ears.
Those who have endured the seething pain of a cherished loss know that it bites hardest when the sympathizers leave. That of course is the beginning of several seasons where pain dominates, becoming the lonesome elixir that dulls the desire to live again, numbing too the remaining trickles of laughter often present before death walked in.
Peter Kayode Bello Jnr’s friends and colleagues have been no let off. Those who have been in shock since the bad news broke, that ill-fated Wednesday, have woken up to the reality that his demise is a bad dream that we cannot all wake from. But then, across several off and online platforms, by recognizing the eternity of the young pilot’s standout ways, even those of us who lay no claim to knowing him, but are united in grieve with them and his family, seem to be demonstrating a collective reluctance to hand death no victory song, for the sake of his parents and several other parents who are going through this particular painful motion.
We must lend support to his family, friends and others in our respective communities who are enduring pain, despair and depression, on the back of the loss of a loved one. While they grieve, bear in mind that it does not eliminate the pain of the loss and that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Our prayers and wishes for them must then centre on these words of Scripture, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning or crying or pain…” (Revelation 21:4)
Orok Duke referred to him as the“…Little Silver Bird…(who) excelled and took to the skies” in a tribute left on the “ForeverMissed Memorial Website, opened by Peter’s friends to celebrate his life with photos, stories, music and more. While they cope with the acceptance of this loss, painful as it is, non within the family and among us can say that we are blind to this debt, waiting to take ‘charge’ because indeed, we live to die.
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