I used to have a best friend, of two. I met him in my first school in Enugu. He was a class ahead of me then. I went on to Hill View, and he happened to change over to there, after a year. That sealed our friendship, and we went on to the same secondary school together.
Chinedu was a jack-of-all-trades, master of all. He was a skilled footballer, and had above average proficiency in lawn tennis, table tennis and basketball. Dude was a brain-box, smart and intelligent, with that his fine handwriting. Let’s not even talk about dancing. Chinedu was one of the best dancers in school—I think he could have even bested Discharger, if not then, then within a short while. I remember an episode in our JSS1, when a particular senior tried to intimidate Chinedu into dancing. He resisted a while, then decided to do some ‘simple’ moves.
Chinedu was stubborn, and strong. I remember there was a time he even fought with an SS 3 student in his hostel (I think it was Imo, his assistant house captain); this was in our JSS 2. Or the time he beat up one big JSS1 boy, KC, who had insulted him after cross-country one Saturday. The boy treated us with utmost respect after that day. Chinedu was one of the first people that did ‘odeshi’ in our JSS1.
I remember those times we went to ‘ma mposi’ together at the back of St. James; how we shared our stuff – water, provisions, clothes, despite being in different hostels. I remember the times when we went down to Agangwu to bath and wash. There was one funny incident about this Agangwu:
After Sunday Mass one day, the senior seminarian started calling out names of those who swam at Agangwu, against instruction. So at one point, he got confused with a name, and called me, who was sitting in front, to clarify it for him. Chinedu, who was called, thought that I was the one who wrote the names, and pointed at me, that I was among those who swam—I didn’t even, and still don’t, know how to swim. After making a bit of a fuss, we made up on the way to punishment (which included singing) and managed to escape.
I was with him late that night before the Christmas vacation. I had been told he was sick earlier, and went to stay with him. I remember us chatting even as I went back to my hostel (St. John’s), him through the refectory, and us laughing as I did ‘igba’ press-up on the road.
I went to check on him the next morning, and he wasn’t there. I was told he was rushed home, as his sickness got worse that morning.
The next term, Chinedu resumed as a day-student, and was jolly—as he usually is—about it. About two weeks after he resumed, on a Thursday morning, Osita came to the class (JSS2A), that he heard some ominous rumours in the staff-room about “Nnadi”. After some time, our form-teacher, Corper Shola, came to the class, to tell us that they got some terrible news. Chinedu was dead.
All I can remember after that moment was IzuGod dragging me down to Discharger’s hostel, as I cried all the way. Discharger called home and it was confirmed. Chinedu was really dead.
I can’t really coordinate all that went through after that—how I felt, what I thought, and all that.
I remember Chinedu sharing his dreams of becoming a music star someday—BaseLife, that’s what he said his stage name would be; and we had a good laugh, as he demonstrated his would-be attributes.
Pity the only picture we had together, one taken during the Inter-House Sports, was in his possession.
That was the first time I experienced loss to death on a personal note. I still think of him; I still pray for him.
Rest in peace, Chinedu Alfred Nnadi.