fait accompli vs. unfinished business – memoirs on the June 3 plane crash

The sun didn’t blink, the wind didn’t cease, the earth didn’t shake and the day didn’t stop. In the twinkle of an eye, mother earth lost over 153 of her children. People from all walks of life, men and women, great and small, infants and unborn, voices united in their pleas for help. I was not a witness… I didn’t even watch the news. How could I have imagined that while I was enjoying a peaceful Sunday evening, someone was breathing her last, consumed by a fiery furnace in an airborne ferry that lost the battle to the force of gravity?

My feet went numb with shock when I heard the news. Goosebumps spread all over my body. I didn’t witness their tragic demise. I had to double check the manifest to see if I knew anyone on the flight. As I scanned through the list, my heart palpitated wildly, I gritted my teeth, it was the best I could do to keep me from giving expression to my fear. The names jumped at me, names of people I was connected with one way or the other, old classmates, benefactors, mentors, spiritual leaders. With each name I saw, I wished I could read no further, yet I was propelled to read on.

At a point, my brain froze, my time stopped. I was suddenly in the midst of the terror, seeing the face of that girl that didn’t say goodbye to her mom because she was angry with her before she left… the remorse on the face of the man that had just cheated on his wife… the pain of the woman that clutched her womb to protect her unborn child… the agony of the men that had just concluded their official assignments, excited to join their families again… the sadness of the woman who was going home with her only son… I wept with the old woman just returning from her visit with her grandchildren abroad, wishing she could be taken in place of them… the family enjoying a hot dish of akpu and okro soup when the plane crashed into their homestead… I suffered with the lady who was looking forward to her wedding in a forthnight…

For some, it was fait accompli while for some it was unfinished business. Some were men of note, some men of power, some were just beginners and some were half done. Some bowed out at the time the applause had just intensified while some left at the beginning of their applause.

It was but a month ago that I had a near-death experience. The only thought on my mind after the fatal accident was of the help I had failed to render to a friend in need. It was just the day before that a friend had asked me for help in paying her hospital bills and I turned her down, dismissing it as a hoax. All I could think about was the help I could have rendered before departing the earth. Maybe God saw my heart and gave me a second chance, maybe it just wasn’t my time yet, who knows. I made a decision that day, and it’s stuck in my mind now, not to turn my back on anyone that may need my help.

This tragedy touches us all. It is a wake up call for you and for me. A reminder that life is short and our days are few. A gentle nudge that we have to be remembered for something someday by someone. One day the media will cease to broadcast it and it will become another date in the history of Nigeria’s tragedies. We will all forget but will the lessons gleaned remain transient or inextripable in our hearts? Let’s live, let’s love and let’s not be afraid to leave when it’s time but most of all, let’s imprint our marks indelibly in hearts.

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