By Ojo Ogbodo
May 13th 2014:
I heard a knock on my door past midnight, it was Seyi and she needed to borrow my phone. She had a dream and needed to talk to her dad but didn’t have airtime, and since everyone knew that I always had airtime, she came to borrow mine. She couldn’t reach him, and I assured her it was just a dream and she was being paranoid even though i didn’t bother to ask what the dream was about. Maybe I should have.
Two days later, Seyi came to my room, she was unusually quiet but I didn’t worry much, I was used to seeing her have mood swings anyways. We talked a little about the weather and about school; she only stayed for a few minutes and then left. “I am going home” she said, and I let her go. Later that evening, I got a text from her saying ‘I lost my dad, he had a stroke yesterday, but he died in the hospital today’. I felt terrible; maybe I should have cared more.
I couldn’t attend the burial; I had professional exams to write. I heard it went fine, but things changed after that. She lost a lot; her dad died, she failed at school that semester, most of her dad’s property was collected by relatives, her mom lost it, what was left of the family was in pieces. I’d often see her post things online about him, and I’ll reply “God is in control”. But I guess what she needed was not to feel alone.
I watched it all unfold; the gradual change. Like when she decided she was going to pay someone to take her final exams for her, when she cut her hair and all I could say was “this is an awesome look”, when she travelled every weekend because she had “someone” to see and I covered for her, when we took shots all nights because we were trying to drown the past. I should have said something when she called me to come help her pick an apartment to rent, because her mom was a pain in the ass, or the nights she kept me up telling me how the world was filled with hypocrisy especially the church, I should have told her then that God was bigger than the so called Christians that warm the pews every Sunday instead of just saying “you have a point…”
Seyi grew to love her pills, she loved how they rattled in her bag, I knew when she started pills, it was Jamal; the guy she was seeing at that time, that introduced her to it and even after they broke up she never stopped. When she started smoking marijuana I knew then she got her supplies from Imran; her friend from way back, when I realised that Seyi didn’t mean soda when she said “coke”. I realised then it was late, she wasn’t Seyi anymore. Then I tried to say something but her words broke my heart “relax Sara, we only live to die anyways, besides it’s too late to turn back now”.
Seyi got sick from a drug overdose, I went to see her in the hospital before her family sent her to rehab in South Africa. Her mother asked me, “you were so close to her why didn’t you say something to us?”.
Sometimes, Seyi would say, “I am not like you Sara” and often I’d reply “we are all different in our own ways”. I should have done more than offer smart quotes. I watched Seyi’s life change and I said nothing, until it was too late.
Now I have learnt to always speak up, to listen more to people and hear the words they don’t say. It has taught me that being a good friend isn’t about being present and being supportive, I have learnt to care. I now understand that people cry out for help in their action but many times we are too carried away to notice. I was selfish, Seyi trusted me and I was not a good friend to her. I didn’t say anything when it was right and #itchangedmylife