I am a coward. I can't stand grief. So what happens when death takes three persons in one - poet, dancer and teacher? It has taken two weeks to be able to write anything at all.
I am still in shock on the loss of my friend and colleague, Ify Agwu. The news of her death reached me two weeks ago: 17 March, and since the first yell, I have not controlled the low sobs that come as breath on other days when memories of her walk into my heart.
I keep hoping I’m in a dream (clichéd in perspective as it is). I try to bring back the past two months, where Ify and I exchanged phone calls because of a poetry project we were involved in. We also mouthed other plans; like collaborating on a performance. I can still remember the excitement in her voice when she called, and I stone-headed simply said, “see you in Ibadan…”
I remember joking two nights before her death, in her house, while talking to a mutual friend – Ropo Ewenla – that she took me more seriously than I took myself.
So on that day of her demise, I slept in her house and had woken to the sound of her packing for her travels which she mentioned a day earlier. I held her hands wished her a safe trip and told her I would travel later that day to Lagos myself.
Indeed, I left for Lagos to attend Odia Ofeimun’s birthday event, certain she was almost in Abuja. Through the day, I reminded myself to call and see if she was now safe in her destination. I didn’t.
It was the following next morning, as I was about to dial her number – a little groggy and all, when Ropo called and asked, “Have you received a call from Ibadan.”
“No, have they found a house for me?” Her death was the last thing on my mind. I referred to some other discussion we had. He became silent. Yet, nothing in my mind warned me that the next words were too bitter for the ears, until he muttered – “Ify. Is dead…”
Although, there would never be the right emotion to shelter this pain, like those in the past; I have great solace in the life Ify left behind – the memories of a good soul. Three poetry collections: They Run Still and Now That Dreams Are Born.
I wrote a poem for her in Nigerian Talk, which Kola Tubosun has dedicated for her. I wrote each word in tears, and the editing process was weightier.
Do read, share the beautiful words that engrave Ify Agwu, perhaps you too will remember…