Monday, March 10, 2014

Nigerian Parent Invencible


Today, I was reading the wikipedia entry for Chiwetel Ejiofor (an actor I've admired since Dirty Pretty Things) and read about the tragic death of his father in a car accident in Nigeria, while he survived, and my heart sank.

It was the same way I was saddened to hear about a Nigerian woman, single mother in Michigan who was hit by a car as she crossed the street on her way to work and was killed.

If I ever have puff puff again, I'll probably cry over it as I remember how my mother, father and brother ate puff puff prepared by her at the last Nigerian wedding they attended.

I realize I'm really shaken by these deaths more than baseline because they bring my father's mortality into focus. My father is such a strong personality and a strong force in my life, I cannot imagine him suddenly and violently leaving, as in the likes of a car accident. In fact, God forbid! I pray when I do lose my father, it's not in such a way.

You cannot prepare for life and you can't for death but I'm just coming to terms with my grandparents dying. Sometimes I call my parents to make sure they're okay. I'm not ready for them to leave, but who ever is?

I've known a lot of Nigerians in my father, aunties and uncles in that way that unrelated adults are aunties and uncles, and I see them as invincible, illogically so. I don't know if it's the inherent faith and God-fearing nature of so many of them, their ubiquity in my life for so long with little tragedy. It seems like they'd be here forever until they age and move on of natural causes.

There's something so alive, so vital about my father's presence in my life. Something about him that made me more apt to assume he was perfect for so long, even when I knew he was wrong. He's so steadfast in his faith and in his work as I suppose are many a first generation immigrant, like the auntie who made puff puff at the wedding, as I imagine Ejiofor's father may have been, a physician killed as he drove from a wedding in Nigeria.

And my heart sinks because they're not invincible, and I've always known it, but he feels so alive to me even when he's no where near me because of that presence his persona creates, and I'm not ready for it to be violently stripped from this realm. Not yet.

My father has commuted every day, one hour to work and one hour home, since the day after I was born, for 29 years now. I pray for his safe journey to work and safe return home, every day, for the rest of his life.

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