By Chris Ihidero
I was informed of your demise this morning. The message was short and direct: ‘Diana is dead. She died this morning and has been buried according to Christian burial rites. She drank a lot of water and ate well before she passed on.‘ It had been a long time coming and when I saw you, for what has now become the last time, last Saturday, a part of me wished that you would just go, that you will stop fighting so gallantly to stay alive for us. You were always a fighter, but at some point all battles must end. Now, all we have are memories…
We named you after Diana, Princess of Wales. There was always something graceful about you, something that, once experienced, cannot be forgotten. I remember coming home from NYSC to see you for the first time and the wonder in your eyes, seeking to know who I was, your head turned to the left, demanding that I explain my presence. Your wondering will eventually melt into an awesome smile as you realise that I was a part of the family and the love you had shown to other will quickly be extended my way, accompanied by the most joyful welcome anyone can ever give. I loved you on first sight.
Truth be told, you were not always gracious or kind, especially to those who didn’t belong to the family and those you somewhat decided were not deserving of your love. Tales of people scampering out of the house on your appearance are plentiful: more than a few had you on their heels, with their last prayers on their lips! You were a handful whenever you wanted to be. And you had this totally hilarious way of conjuring up a most innocent face, right after you had done something wrong. It was always a laugh-and-a-half for me, but popsy always had your cane ready and boy, did that man discipline you! The other laugh and a half always came from watching you run around the compound as he politely informed you: ‘Diana, better come here and receive your cane now…Diana, is it not you I’m talking to? You know you can’t run forever…come here!‘
Beneath your aggression and stubbornness laid a playful and loving heart. You were always game for a run around, for a cuddle, for a jump, for a kiss; you were constantly seeking our palms in search of a head rub, your hands and feet constantly in the air, seeking a tummy rub. Yetunde totally spoiled you as a baby, constantly letting you sleep in her bed.
Your illness was long and depreciating. You lost a lot of weight, your legs went, your fluffy and radiant hair and skin went too and then silence followed. The last time I saw you, you couldn’t even get up to say hello…all that was left were your eyes, and even they had puss surrounding them. But you looked at me. You saw me. You knew it was me but you couldn’t keep your eyes open for long. I rubbed your head. I didn’t want to say goodbye but I knew you were in a lot of pain and I just wished it would all end.
I will miss you. Walking into No 31 will never be the same again.
The tears gather but they refuse to fall, Diana. I am the lesser man who doesn’t know how to cry.
Thank you for the wonderful 11 years you shared with us, for the love and laughter you gave my family… the memories will linger forever. And thank you for Maximilian, your son, although I sometimes wonder where you got that thug from.
God rest your soul, dear friend. If there’s a dog heaven, I am sure you will make it.
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