“Both my parents died in a car accident…” the words kidnap my attention as if my name had just been called. Maybe it’s because I too have lost a parent and the pain is paralysing enough, I can’t imagine what losing both would do. But his words do not betray any pain, any fear, any emotion. His voice is flat, numb and indifferent. There’s no doubt in my mind that it’s a front, his heart would be slowly shattering, if it hasn’t already been ripped to shreds.

The narcissist in me wants to find expression, but I trap it within my teeth while it backflips and somersaults in my mind. I don’t want to make this about me, but I’m genuinely concerned. Not just about his flat tone, but more about my numb empathy.

“People die everyday…” I remember looking into my mothers eyes on December 20 2013, and telling her those words. Her husband, my father, had just died and the most genuine words I could utter were “People. Die. Everyday.” I said this looking into her eyes, hear heart too shocked to be disturbed by my coldness and cruelty. I wish I stopped and never said those words again, but I kept saying it, to my mother, my family and my best friends. Over two years now and I’ll still say those words I had to talk about it.

My fingers scroll across my Twitter timeline and I come across a village up north attacked, it’s children kidnapped, the government; in denial along with half the people on my timeline. My emotions are in conflict, but not with each other, with the world. I’m appalled, “how can this happen in a state of emergency?” I ask the air. Hoping like a messenger pigeon it would take my words to the freshly painted corridors of Aso Rock. But I’m greeted with silence.

I’m arguing with the world on Twitter, the world that chooses to live in apathy and denial, how dare they! What kind of human beings were assigned to Nigeria? I’m furious with my church for not praying…enough…I’m from Chibok! We all are! #Bringbackourgirls!

Then CNN comes.

And goes.

Nothing happens.

Then a bomb goes off

And another bomb goes off

And another

And another

“People. Die. Everyday” 

And I’m tired of caring but I will not stand to be judged. No one has the right to tell me when to be numb, when to be emotional, when to pay attention to the obituary that has become the headlines and when not to, went to be Chibok and when to be Charlie!

“People. Die. Everyday”

But am I a hypocrite? That I’m not aggrieved for the death of those close to me, but I’m frustrated because the government cannot keep people I’ve never met safe.

Am I a hypocrite? Because I get tired of fighting the air, waiting for a messenger pigeon that never comes, scrolling over breaking news of deaths and kidnappings of both the nameless people like me and the big men and women.

Am I a hypocrite for ignoring the deaths in Nigeria and sympathising with the deaths in France all the while retweeting,

 “You care more about how deaths abroad than deaths at home.”

My mother looks at me, she’s sitting on the floor, hair scattered, eyes betray the limited availability of sanity in her head, what’s left has been chased out by grief. She tugs at my shorts and says “Aboy, what are we going to do.”

I look her straight in the eyes, I look the person I care about most straight in the eyes, in the worst time of her life and say

“People. Die. Everyday”


6 Replies to “Insouciant ”

  1. I’m sorry you lost your dad. There’s a heartbreaking hint of grief in your words and it hurts to think about my lack of grief for the suffering of people in the north; deliberately shielding my eyes from the news; drowning myself with entertainment.

    Don’t be too hard on yourself, Ugo. Sometimes the attention we fail to give these things is a sign of our inner struggle with self-preservation and empathy.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I feel it’s easier to concentrate on other world affairs, it protects us from the paralyzing fear that our lives too can be ended in an instance. If they’re from France, we sympathize but it doesn’t touch us so deep because different country ,different people.


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