Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I picked up the phone at the second ring. “Hey, brotherman! How the go dey go now?” said the voice on the other line. As far as I knew, there were only two persons in the world that used the term brotherman when referring to each other; me and Toyin, my long lost friend.

“Toyin baba!” The realization hit me almost immediately.

“Yeah,” Toyin laughed in that deep-throated way only he knew how to. “The one and only. Long time no see, man. How have you been?”

The last time Kayode and I saw was three years ago, just a few months after we finished our NYSC.

“So, what’s new, brotherman?” I asked him that unexpected parting weekend.

“Man, I think I have to get back to the North,” Toyin replied.


“I miss that place. Man, it was fun during service, wasn’t it? He reminisced.

“It sure was,” I replied. And put one and two together. “This is all about Rekiya, right?” I asked him.
“Yes. I miss her so much that it hurts.” He had been broaching the issue of relocating to the North for weeks. But I had passed it off as a joke. Toyin had lived all his life in the South. Why move up North all because you discovered you ‘unbelievably gelled’ (according to Toyin) with someone you only met during your service year?

“But, you guys talk on the phone every other day”

“It’s not enough. I have to bring her down to Lagos with me, body and soul,” he said.

That was the last I heard of him, until his phone call today raised a lot of questions why time flew so fast.

“I just breezed into town some hours ago. There is a lot to catch up on. How about a drink on Friday?” he asked.

“Man, you’ve not changed,” I laughed. Toyin had a reputation for always being business like with his conversations. ‘My first question is, where have you been all these years that we couldn’t reach you?”

“Venus,” he chuckled. “We would also talk about that when we see. I promise, okay.”

“Okay o, anyhow you want it. But, it’s so good to hear your voice again,’ I said.

“Same here, brotherman, same here.” He replied. There was a pause. And a thousand memories flashed through in three seconds. After a little banter, we agreed to hook up over the weekend.

As I drove home, father’s words about keeping in touch with your friends kept ringing in my head. Michael Jackson, the king of Pop, has passed on a few days earlier. Father had always idolized him for what he called his passion and creativity. How MJ singlehandedly wanted to make the world a better place but was let down by his friends.

“No one was really there for MJ to still his troubled soul,” father said about him. And he berated some
particular persons who came out in public to eulogize MJ to high heavens as being their best friend.

“Those guys are leeches,” father fumed. “They rode with MJ when he was on top of the world only to leave him on the ground.” Father continued, “Your best friend should be one who would stick with you through and through,” father said. ‘He would be your ally in the face of enmity, your truth in the midst of lies. He would criticize you and praise you when it calls for either. He is your best critic and admirer.” For father, MJ’s so called best friends were none of these.

“You are saying these because MJ was your idol,” I argued. “C’mon, MJ had personal insecurities he couldn’t deal with as well. Don’t just blame his friends for his untimely death.”

“But, how come they all deserted him during his trying times?” father retorted. “Surely there was something they could have done” he said in a question-statement manner.

Suddenly it hit me that I never bothered to find out what happened to Toyin after we lost contact. God, I hope everything has been okay with him all these years, I prayed silently.

“No matter how hard we try to be sometimes. Truth is, everybody needs a friend, a real friend, somewhere, somehow,” father’s words rang in my ear as I pulled into my neighbourhood. “Keep in touch” were Toyin’s last words to me when he left then. Why didn’t he do same? I wondered. Whatever happened to friendship without conditions? My conscience replied me.


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