My story will start from when my phone rang one Saturday morning like that.
‘You didn’t tell me your brother is back! I saw him yesterday; he hasn’t changed much. He told me he came briefly to see you guys. Wao! I’m coming for my own share of the goodies he brought o…. he even told me you have just started a new job…’
That was my childhood friend, Clara, telling me she saw my late brother, at Oshodi.
My first thought was, she didn’t know who she saw but on second thought, I knew Clara knew my brother very well, she even had a crush on him when we were growing up. So, she knew Bro James well.
But then again, Clara and I have been out of touch for months even before my brother’s sudden passing, and I doubt that she had heard about it because she would first have commiserated with me, not tell me she saw him.
The information about my new job is also true and if indeed my brother has come to Nigeria to see us, how come we haven’t seen him? Two other people had called to say they saw him at so and so place.
I was baffled. What sort of thing is this?
Let me start from the beginning.
My brother James had been in Malaysia for years. He went there to hustle. What we know is that he had businesses, buying and selling accessories, men’s wear and things like that. That is the impression I got from our talk on the phone because that was what he was doing here before he decided to relocate to Malaysia.
If he was involved in any other thing apart from these, I have no knowledge of it and that is the truth.
He would send money to us once in a while and because our parents are late, he really had no compulsion to come home. You get what I mean? He had bought a land that I was helping him develop in the village but he wasn’t in any particular hurry to finish the project. He was just sending money in bits.
Then for about two years, in short almost three years now, we didn’t hear from him at all. We would call his line and it would ring and ring but no word from him. We sent him emails, asked a few people to help us find out about him, the news we got was that he was involved in some deals, some business with some Malaysians and some Africans living there.
I don’t know the sort of deal it was but I can imagine it not to be something nice if it made my brother disappear. When we didn’t hear any word from him for close to two years, we began to think that maybe he was in prison or dead because how do you explain this?
Before we made that conclusion, we had read about an African immigrant that was killed and stuffed in his car boot. His body was not even easily identified because the man had been bludgeoned to death. Another thing was that Bro James wasn’t bearing his real name.
He had a new name, he had a foreign passport, a Ghanaian passport, I think. So he was not immediately linked to us or Nigeria.
I came across the news on the internet; you know when you are looking for someone lost, you look everywhere. And of course, we were looking for our brother, so every news about an African that was killed or imprisoned was news we paid attention to because he could be our brother.
After that particular news, I had a strong feeling James was dead. My elder sister and I began to make enquires, we went to see different pastors who had powers to help us see if indeed our brother was still alive or dead and in the places we went, they said he was in the wilderness. What sort of answer is that?
Then few months after, we began to get calls that they saw him here, they saw him there but he never came to show himself to my elder sister and me.
I have no idea about life after death, in fact, I don’t believe in it, me being a Christian and all but I’ve had reasons in the past few months to think about it again. There certainly is a realm beyond ours, there is some sort of life beyond our life and my brother must have been caught up in between. I don’t believe that if he were still alive and truly in this Lagos, he would avoid me or my sister or our uncle or any member of our family, I don’t think so.
I strongly believe he was that dead African I read about. And because his death was brutal, he has become an unsettled spirit moving from one place to the other. I just pray that someday, I see him and tell him to go and rest but maybe he wants to avenge his own death, if that is so, then he should go after those who killed him. That’s my position on this matter.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)