When a good man is planted in his grave, he does not germinate into a tree to give shade to his loved ones. Today we stand at this cemetery weeping as we lay to rest one of the realest people I have ever known in my entire life. The choir sings melodious tunes as though they we sent down by God himself as part of his disbelief that my dear friend has passed away. People from far and near have come to pay their homage to this great man. Tributes have been poured forth from mouths like water gashing out of the rock Moses struck in the wilderness. Even the President of the country is right here at the cemetery with us. Cameras are clicking and reporters are scribbling things in their notepads. This is indeed the funeral of a national hero. The priest raises his hand and a dead silence falls on the cemetery. Then with the trowel in his hands, he digs into the earth, pours the dirt on the polished oak wood coffin and says
Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust.
Well, I’m sure if wishes were horses, my friend ‘Sofi’ would wish his funeral was what I described above. But alas, just six of us are present to lay him to rest. The priest who I had to pay to perform the burial rites, the four young men who are the pallbearers, me and his one-eyed dog that looks like offspring of a bow-legged crossed-eyed bitch and one of her stray and starved lovers. I met ‘Sofi’ as he’s popularly called throughout the village when I was in Middle School form 2. We were just being ourselves that day in the classroom when this man walks into the classroom. He looked dark and hard bodied like a copra that had its husk peeled off the shell and rubbed with a little bit of palm oil. When his shadow fell on the doorway, it was like a sculptured dark cloud had just been dropped right there. He walked in, scanned the room and walked to the empty desk at the back of the class and sat down without uttering a word. We looked at each other’s faces puzzlingly as though the answer to the question of who he was would pop out from someone’s face. Then our class teacher entered the class and introduced him as our classmate. As the term progressed he and I became friends. I was the brains and he was the muscle. However he’s association with me had absolutely no effect on his intellectualism as he exhibited during one of our technical skills lessons. A shovel was drawn on the blackboard and he was asked to identify what tool if was. Without hesitation, he shouted ‘Sofi’ with the confidence of a politician who was sure he had won an election and a smile that was like a piece of roasted yam that was puffed open by heat. The whole class erupted into a laughing zoo and thus, the name Sofi was conferred on him
The pursuit and the desire to make my life a better one took me out of the village whilst Sofi remained but whenever I was in town I made it a point to visit him at his home. Six months before his death, I heard that Sofi had won the lottery. It was said that, on the day he cashed in his win, he had a big party at home and had three fat Billy goats killed and prepared. Laughing gourds of foaming palmwine were order from Agbeko the famous tapper and the famous Minamiwoe wanyo boborbor troupe came to perform. It is said that even the coronation party of the village chief was no match for Sofi’s party. It was under this party that my friend Sofi laid eyes on Dzidedi and like the saying goes, Wine comes in at the mouth and love comes in at the eye. On my next visit to the village, I was told Sofi was getting ready to be married. Which Sofi? is it the Sofi I know who avoided women as a plague because his love advances was rejected by the young national service teacher posted to our school when we were in form four? How could a forty-eight year old man want to marry a twenty-two year old girl? Weren’t there more mature single women around? Truth be told, when I met Dzidedi, I was awed as though I had just seen the best magic trick performed. Her gait was rhythmic, her buttocks jiggled like that maracas during a charismatic praise session with each step she took and her breast looked firm like two freshly dug yam mounds laying side by side in the loose blouse she wore. And I told myself I understood why Sofi had fallen in love.
I watched in amazement how she came to sit of Sofi’s laps, played with his greying hair, tickled his ear lobes and both giggled. Instinctively I felt there was something weird about the relationship and when Sofi was seeing me off, I told him how I thought it was not a good idea to get married to Dzidedi. One could virtually see fumes coming out Sofi’s ears and nostrils like the exhaust pipe of Busy Boy’s bone shaker that traveled from the village to Ho twice every week. He accused me of being jealous of his success and progress in life and that I had just proven to him that I was not worthy of his friendship. I apologized to him for poking my nose into his affairs and went home. And that was the last time I saw or spoke to my friend until I saw him hanging from a nylon rope on the huge mango tree at the entrance of the path that led to the farms.
It is said that, Dzidedi and her young lover duped him of his money under the pretense of helping him invest it in some gold business. Then one afternoon, he caught them in bed and when he confronted them, she ridiculed him publicly by calling him a foolish, impotent uncircumcised bed wetter. Not able to withstand the laughing-stock he had become in the village, Sofi decided to end his life but not before he had walked stark naked from one end of the village to the other with his huge uncircumcised manhood and drooled scrotal sacs dangling left and right as he rained curses on Dzidedi and her lover saying that even the holiest of waters blessed by the Pope and angels would not render the curses impotent.