Frances Ogamba: The tribute [Nigerian Voices]

by Frances Ogamba


Every day, I wonder what I was doing the very moment you leapt into the waves the second time? Was I looking at the sun’s hot rays that fell everywhere? Was it at that time the couple standing some distance away became oblivious of the rest of us and kissed? What else did you do besides diving in? Did you merely plunge in and fade in the ocean’s depths?

The windswept sands of the beach were the deep tone of beige and their gritty edges bit into the soles of our feet as we tattled aloud, celebrating the end of an exasperating school year. We were done with our penultimate year; a near-cresting of the mountain we began ascending five years ago. We sang. We danced. The tides rose and fell.

It was you who fractured the excitement with your stentorious voice when you said you could swim against the tides. Someone disputed your claim and placed a bet. You dashed into the waters and we held our breaths until you sauntered out.

‘This is a dangerous stunt. Don’t try it at home,’ you said imitating a popular televised warning. Our laughter traversed the beach and reverberated in its corners. The remnants of our mirth still hung in the air when you disappeared beneath the water sheets the second time, giving us a peace sign with two raised fingers. Someone still laughed when your raised hand fell, when the water bubbled from underneath. The fear that poked my ribs settled in my throat as a scream.

We had plans, you and I. We were going to graduate in three hundred and sixty-five days. You were supposed to secure a job in your father’s company, a position that had been vacant from the day you were born, the major reason engineering was chosen for you albeit the fact that your heart beat for music. It was the scampish curve of your eye brows that I fell for, and the manner your face dimpled in more than three places before breaking into a smile. It was the authority your voice held when you spoke, gluing a reluctant crowd. It was your love for life, because you loved living, your knowledge of everything, or maybe not everything but a little bit of them. It was your laughter that could diffuse through walls, through age long bricks, through memories that were almost five years old, through sandy beaches.

A fleeting moment became the forty-eight hours we waited before the sea vomited a young man that was bloated, pustulant remains of what used to be you.

Rest on OBum.

Uju — For the final year class of Mechanical Engineering.


Frances is the first runner up of the October phase of the Nigerian Voices competition.

This entry was submitted as part of the Nigerian Voices competition organized by

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