TIMIEBI’S FIRST THOUGHTS OF LAMENTATION FROM PRISON
BY EKANPOU ENEWARIDIDEKE
Catapulted by numerous items on my mind – very much unlike Wole Soyinka in his own seminal work, THE MAN DIED, when he was ‘prompted by two items on’ his table – I sat in my library engrossed in creative meditations, exercises, and mental search for communicative resources to cast a particular character in my new work when four men who introduced themselves as King Robert Ebizimor,High Chief Ekpemupolo Thomas Osen,Hon.Teiyeibo Agbeotu and Chief Coach Suoye Lokoja came to me with a letter. They walked unhurriedly away after the letter was handed to me. Grimaces were boldly written on their countenances though they handed the letter to me without words.
Like a hasteless paddler on a slow-flowing river, without haste I opened the letter. The letter began thus: ‘Dear son, in pains and anger I am writing this letter to you.Even with echoes of your own article published in the Vanguard of 8 April 2022 entitled ‘Appraising Otuaro’s First Epistle’,I must confess quite early that I am not a lover of letter-writing as that is artistically suited to JP Clark who is a genius in writing letters for his beloved characters in his creative world, former President Olusegun Obasanjo who corresponds with supposed erring rulers as a tool for reawakening in governance towards good governance, His Excellency Kingsley Burutu Otuaro who sometimes chooses letter-writing to communicate his core development theories and vision to the people and Mariam Ba whose globally recognised speciality it is to write long letters to the artistic carriers and drivers of her treasured messages to the world in her beautifully carved artistic canoe called SO LONG A LETTER.
‘I value face-to-face communication and over the years I have always communicated my thoughts to you through dialogue where we are seated. In this city of imprisonment where I currently reside – where no one is willing to volunteer as a surety and sign one’s bailbond – open visible communication with you is totally barred and contravening this embargo comes with a heavy penalty too heavy for me to bear. The penalty-free escape route of this embargo placed on all by the Royal Majesty of the city, His Royal Majesty Dueama Pere, is to write this letter routed to you by King Ebizimor,High Chief Osen, Hon.Agbeotu and Chief Coach Lokoja who have amazingly shown deep solicitude for my plight in this prison.
‘In a letter that demands immediate response unto thee I have come today like the Israelites and the Ogbokones of Ogbokone community in Warri. In the duration of the Arab-Israel war in 1948 Jordan claimed the East Jerusalem with a proprietorial flourish but in the six-day Arab-Israel war in 1967 the Israelites restrategised militarily and reclaimed East Jeruslaem just like the way the Ogbokones in Ogbokone community in Warri were deprived of their own community through war of attrition waged by their enemies against them.Interestingly, the Ogbokones equally reinforced militarily after many years of proprietorial deprivation and reclaimed their own Ogbokone Community. Similarly I have come to reclaim what I have been deprived of by you for some years. This deprivation gives me embarrassment, indignity and jeers here among some battery-hearted arrogant colleagues. I was already contemplating suicide here and be caught off from you perpetually but for the good-intentioned intervention of King Robert, High Chief Osen, Hon. Agbeotu and Suoye Lokoja who implacably insisted I write a formal letter to you cataloguing my plight here.
‘I journeyed away from you on 30 August 2020. Even before I left, I timely intimated you with the details of my departure itinerary in a dream but you insisted I wait until you had the strength to buy coffin as the canoe on which I should journey away. I obliged. On the 28 of August 2020 when the money you expected from your executed contract stormed your bank account, I retired from the earth on 30 August 2020. This opportunity was purposely created for you to have financial strength to ‘coffin’ me to my new city of sojourn. And expectedly, I should be correspondingly ‘coffined’ and be given a seat of dignity here.
‘Soon after my departure from your current city, some dignitaries like His Excellency Kingsley Burutu Otuaro, Solomon Funkerene, Hon. Braduce Angozi, Senator J.E. manager, Hon.Forteta Peter Asupa, Hon.Julius Pondi, Hon. Macdonald Igbadiwei, Dr. Paul Bebenimibo,Chief Ekomieyefa Uduboh,King Alfred Izonebi, Ebitonmo Alapala,Barrister Soja Smooth,King Pereama Freetown and many others too numerous to name came to condole with you. I can also recall historically that King Alfred Izonebi and Alapala Ebitonmo were the very first condolers who stormed your place, and Rt.Hon.Solomon Funkekeme as the very first personality to give you telephone condolences before actually coming in person later .
‘Unforgettably, by every perspective these condolence visits are commendable developments bound to live in your archive forever as treasured historical chronicles. I would not be surprised if they later condense and metamorphose into a book entitled: A CHRONICLE OF MY TREASURED CONDOLERS WHEN TIMIEBI MAIKA DIED IN 2020.
‘Much as the condolence visits of these personalities demand notable appreciation from you, it is not my obsession here in this letter. My worries and pains far outweigh these condolences that gave you psychological balm,resuscitation, stamina, stability and feelings of humanity.
‘I have been turned into an object of ridicule and mockery here by my colleagues. Today marks the third year of my sojourn and imprisonment in this city, yet you have not made any attempt to give me a befitting burial. Is the hyped condolence visit a replacement for my befitting burial, my dear son?
‘Seemingly, It could be that you are financially too weak to bury me in a befitting manner to command the respect of my colleagues here in this Dueama city. Truly, lack of money could ruin one’s burial rites and this could be the reason why you have not performed my final burial rites after all these years when I died on 30 August 2020. Don’t you have a feeling for me, son?
‘Because I know you will have some financial challenges bordering on giving me a notable burial, I prayerfully cried to God in your interest and HE answered my prayers. My homeward journey was embarked on 30 August 2020 and by October 2020, through my fervent prayers, His Excellency Governor Okowa gave you political appointment as Special Assistant on Political – which is enough for you to equip yourself gradually and perform my final burial rites. But up till now there is no visible move on your part to give me a befitting burial. These are my worries and pains here because I am daily ridiculed by my colleagues here. When will you give me final burial rites, my dear son whom I have licensed to continue my heritage of storytelling?
‘My son, I wish to be given final burial rites and earn the respect of my colleagues here in this city of imprisonment. From 2020 till 2022 I am yet to be honoured with my long anticipated final burial rites in actuality. I am tired of waiting, my son. Please perform my final burial rites even if you don’t have money. It is too long. I am being mocked by my arrogant colleagues here everyday except King Robert Ebizimor, High Chief Ekpemupolo Thomas Osen, Hon.Teiyeibo Agbeotu and Chief Coach Suoye Lokoja who daily comfort me with great words of encouragement.
Memorably, I must mention here that Chief Coach Suoye Lokoja who has just arrived is most memorably comforting to me in many ways because it was he who energised and persuaded King Ebizimor, Hon.Agbeotu and High Chief Thomas Osen and convinced me to walk on the epistolary path instead of embracing the suicidal path bound to put to an end to all the possible avenues of communicating with you from the Dueama prison where sureties and bailbonds are perpetually embargoed by His Royal Majesty, Dueama Pere 1.
‘For the purpose of unsolicited emphasis I feel compelled to journey again and again to the already familiar creek that thoughts of committing suicide have already begun to invade me.The moment I commit suicide here I would be totally cut off from you. It was the moment thoughts of committing suicide invaded me repeatedly that King Ebizimor, High Chief Osen, Hon.Agbeotu and Chief Coach Lokoja came to comfort me and pleaded with me to embrace epistolary communication. Let my long awaited final burial rites be therefore performed this 2022 my son because I can no longer tolerate the taunts, innuendoes and jeers of my arrogant colleagues here. And hopefully, this will be the first and last letter from your mother now away from you like the two conjoined plantains of King Alfred Izonebi’s creation cut and separated from each other’.
Enewaridideke, writes from Akparemogbene, Delta State.