He didn’t even make the news. He couldn’t have made it. All he was worth, was a few mentions from sympathetic people who did not know him and who of course forgot him almost immediately afterwards and started to play on his grave.
All he was, was a nameless beach hand and the only reason he was worth a second mention was because he died. They said he entered the water regardless of the red flag warning because he wanted to take his bath. Listening to the story, I realized that I hadn’t ever imagined that people took their baths immersed in the salty sea water of Elegushi beach, but then again I didn’t know many people whose deaths would be brushed off in minutes by impersonal onlookers.
They said the tide came in high while he bathed and he struggled to save himself, he waved and waved signalling for help, and all around him while he struggled for his life were: lovers cuddling on the shores of the beach while waves lapped at their feet, merrymakers starting the year with fun and games, lone people taking solitary walks on the beach immersed in thought, people under umbrellas sipping drinks, chatting and watching the waves. Life was already moving on right before his dying eyes. How he must have felt his own insignificance in those last moments.
They told us an attempt was made to save him, a diver finally saw his attempts to get attention and tried to reach him but failed, the water separated diver and drowner wickedly and washed him away. While he died, fresh people like myself came to the beach, oh, we were sympathetic, we mourned his short life and recounted stories of people we had heard of that had drowned, we swore not to go near the water and we declared that we were sad! Our “firm” resolutions lasted only a short while, soon we were eating and drinking like nothing had happened, taking pictures and playing on the shores of his watery grave.
He didn’t make the news that evening, he didn’t get mentioned in any corner of the newspapers the next day, he couldn’t have been. If he had at least been a student or maybe part of the middle class, Nigerians would have heard of his short life and sad death. Sadly as a “nobody” who remains nameless, his body will wash up on the shores two days from the day the water took him, nobody will be waiting to receive him, he will wash up with tender parts of his skin missing, thanks to the fishes that would have fed on him, he will wash up lifeless and as unrecognizable as he was in life, fellow beach hands will slowly find him for an unremarkable burial on the same beach where hundreds of other people will be living, loving and partying.
Note: The boy “nameless” died on the 11th of January 2014 at Elegushi beach.
Special thanks to Aunty Abimbola Ajileye who motivated me to give an account of his death where nobody else would have reported it.