I still have goosebumps every time I remember the incident that happened early this year.
I have often heard of people seeing the dead in their dreams and talking to them, that sort of thing. I can accept things like that. But this one that happened to us, not just me, myself and my entire family saw it. It is baffling and even my pastor can’t explain it.
See, we sell food; my mother owns a restaurant in Ogba and I work for her whenever I come home for break from school. I am a part-time student at Unilag. We mostly serve Igbo dishes; I mean, we also serve other dishes like jollof rice, fried rice and so on; but what sells most at our restaurant are soups and swallows -bitter-leaf, afang, white soup, egusi, draw… you know what I am talking about?
Like I said, most of our food is Igbo dishes, so, as expected most of our customers are Igbos; we also have other customers, though. Anyway, among the horde of customers, there was Chidi. He owns a shoe shop somewhere at Pen cinema side. Yes, people come from far to eat from my mother’s restaurant, we are very good cooks, o, don’t try us.
Ok, so I said Chidi was among them. Who is Chidi to us? A regular customer who had been coming to our shop to eat for more than three years.
As a sure Igbo dude, Chidi would always travel in December and that’s one reason why December is our worst month. Anyway one day after Christmas, Chidi came and told my mother that he would be traveling home the next day which was a Friday, I think it was the 28th of December, 2018. He told my mother that though he would miss her cooking but that his mother was waiting for him at home to prepare him soup that even my mother cannot cook.
We all laughed because Chidi was a funny person. He should be like 36 years old or so and was married with two children. I never met his family, he just talked about them and once he showed me his wife and boys.
As you can guess, every December ending we don’t cook as much as we always do because remember I said, customers become scanty towards the New Year. We saw Chidi on Thursday, he said he would travel on Friday and because we don’t open shop on weekends we didn’t see any customers until after the New Year. Guess who we saw?
He came in to eat Bitterleaf soup and semo; we started making fun of him, we told him we haven’t started cooking for the year, we asked him why he didn’t go home to eat his mother’s special soup?
In fact, my mother asked him, she said in Igbo, “Chidi, I thought you said you were travelling on Friday? You don’t want to go and eat your mother’s soup or my soup is now sweeter than your mother’s own?’
He just smiled and told my mother that maybe she put medicine in her soup that he can’t go home again. He said he was stuck with us.
We all laughed; myself and my two sisters who were in the shop. And since we hadn’t began to cook for the year; my mother said we should give him soup from our own pot, so we served him Ogbono and semo.
The following day, he came and for almost two weeks he kept coming to eat his lunch at the shop. Around the 16th of January, many of our customers who travelled to the east began to come back. The shop started filling up again. Everybody was getting busy and life was getting back to normal again.
Then Uche, a friend of Chidi’s came to eat. He too just returned from the east. His shop is not too far from Chidi’s shop. He came in wearing black from head to toe. We did not even suspect anything. He sat down and one of my sisters asked what he wanted to eat. He said, Bitter-leaf and semo. My sister just teased him that he wants to act like bobo in this heat wearing black on black. As soon as she said that, Uche just began to cry.
I swear! He was crying like a baby.
Uche, o gini? What is it?
He did not even talk, then another customer, I can’t remember his name, he then told us that Chidi was involved in an accident last December on his way home to the east and he died. They said his brain was scattered all over because the car he was travelling in somersaulted and landed in the bush when the tyre burst.
Mba! It can’t be true! Which Chidi? The same Chidi that has been coming to eat here in the last two weeks? Mba! They didn’t know what they are saying.
We told them about the conversations we had with Chidi. The many times he came here for his lunch… so we told them to wait and see, that Chidi would soon come. We were so sure that Chidi would come that day.
We waited…we waited…Chidi did not come. I still did not believe!
So, Uche opened his phone and showed us the photos of the mangled vehicle Chidi travelled in, they showed us the photo of his corpse in the morgue, it was swollen and bloodied.
It was only then that we realised we had been talking to and feeding to a ghost for two whole weeks!
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)