I remember being 14 and bored with life. Staying at a quiet town in Anambra for my holiday wasn’t helping at all.
“Papa, who’s this?” I said pointing at a picture in an obituary book I was perusing.
“My friend at Eziba” My granddad said, looking up from the newspaper he was reading on his favourite wick chair on the veranda.
I looked at the obituary picture of this friend from Eziba.
I compared the black and white pictures of his youth to the most recent picture he took before his death.
No similarity.
I rifled the pages of this ‘book’, reading through the kind words his children had put in.
There were a lot of these ‘books’ lying around at my grandparents’ home.
I was bored..a bored nerd.

Next year, it seemed the pile had grown.
More ‘books’.
More people dying.
“Papa, who’s this? He looks familiar”
“Its your grand uncle, Amanze. My older brother” Granddad replied, working vigorously on his chewing stick, on his favourite chair as usual, looking into the expanse of trees overlooking the compound.
“He lived there” he continued pointing vaguely to a place beyond the compound.
“Ok” I said, going back to reading about Uncle Amanze’s life.
And on I read, and asked the same question.
‘Your mama’s friend’
‘My brother’s wife’
‘Papa Izunna, the one that lives in the big house’
Their lives had been reduced to pages in a ‘book’

I left for the UK two years later, memories of my obsession with obituary books forgotten.
My mum came back from Nigeria today with pictures and a book.
Suddenly, I’m being assaulted by these memories of my teenage years spent occasionally with two old people who loved me.
I’m looking at this book sadly, staring at the pictures of my grandfather.
“Papa, who’s this?”
“That is me Chioma, that is me.”

RIP Papa.