A Letter on Sad Pages

Ude Ogbodo Okereke

© Copyright 2024 by
Ude Ogbodo Okereke

William Blake, The Lord answereing Job out of a whirlwind. Illustration from Wikimedia Commons.
William Blake, The Lord answereing Job out of a whirlwind. Illustration from Wikimedia Commons.

Riddle of basket which fulfils dream of fate

Shall find tether on grips of lack-prone gait.

Its faint owl-cry funeral is the key.

Let a barefoot strain drown it in the sea.

Dear Friend,

If You hear that I stepped down, kindly disregard. I did not. I only become your aborted Chief Judge, whose existence was drowned in its own baptismal water before birth. Yes. But not a step down— a defeat before the beginning of a contest— a stagger without any punch; without any wine. My gut gives essence to this truth. The bruised hope, in my crushed out being, against every odd, always sews shield from web of a maimed spider a bleached salvation to redeem my broken self.

A four seasons of call is worth an answer. Hence, I answered your call. Not for vainglory. Not for an emotional crutch. Not for the divine dividends that dwell with that hallowed temple. Rather, it was for the joy of service. The joy of fulfilment from service to ones people in ones small way. That joy that took Mandela out of Palace and endured him the twenty-seven-years pains of prison. Even when he had all it took to live, he “prepared to die” for his people. I, too, in order to give the little share of my service for the betterment of the lot of my people, welcomed your thrust. Unlike Mandela, though, I failed you.

I am sorry for the hope smouldering that I lost. Sorry that I silenced that one call that variegated into a million voices heralding me into the dreams you held that soundness of our judicial verdicts resides in my mouth. Sorry for melody of aptness you chanted over miscarriaged hope. The dream of inflated reference to vanguard your choice. Sorry for the wasted effort on a pull of acceptance whose burden of delivery was on the shoulder of prompter. That in this season of farming, my hoe was broken with your leaning arm, set to redeem me.

While I take all the blames, the fault is not mine alone. It is also of background— a neglected determinant of future. Where others look up to family for support, family looks up to me. And I look up to the skin of my teeth. I look up to time as if there exists anything in that blindness that cures all ills. I look upon to God to redeem me. Yes, redemption. Redemption is a strain to break free from the ill-fate-tangle of history. An exertion to extricate from the sweet-rat-bite of insignificance; it is a vow to kill inconsequence.

Hence, I struggle to kill the menace of sad memory with vice of knife. Always repeat to myself that king beware that from him arise beggars. As I am. That thought seizes my troubled sleep. In my pensive couch, when lovers whisper serenades to lovers, and I whisper to God. I whisper to my deads that it is all their fault. Yes, all their fault. I pummel poverty, or myself. And await the reply of God, my deads and the flee of poverty.


I want to speak to God, like Job, in my anguish and declare myself more righteous than him. I want to tell him that I have kept all my sides of the bargain. He fails all of his. “Seek first the kingdom and his righteousness", he said to me, “and all this other things will be added to you.” I did. He took away my glory and added pains to my distress.

This, in my view, started with a single act of selfishness— my prayers for preservation of fair father to see a son born to him; to witness the miracle that worships on the altar of lawyer’s father. Maybe that angered God. Or more accurately, that made Satan to “move” him against me. And I, the lone sufferer, was Jobed into my doom for selfish settlement of sovereignty.

Was it not Job, the most righteous that was punished by God? No. Was punished by Satan? No. By God through Satan? No. By Satan through God? God was “moved” helplessly by Satan, as we gleaned from the book of Job, that he cried “thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.” Satan, in his benevolence, did eventually, as a sympathetic being, listen to his desperate plea not to be “moved” to destroy Job. Had Satan “moved” him the third time, God would have finished Job off!

That ludicrous meditation makes me shiver (a faithless trail of satanic seed). My ponderation wanders, nonetheless. Did Satan hear when my supplication was made? Did he send his Angel to detain, for twenty-one days, the Angel of God sent to answer me, and when Michael, the archangel, rescued the poor Angel, God, just as he was “moved” to punish Job, was “moved” to reverse my prayer? Who knows. The undeniable is: two years after my earnest plea for preservation, fair father was killed. I still hold grudges against God for that act of wickedness. Like Job, he must speak to me through the wind. And make me understand him and understand myself. For now, my knowledge of reality has become acquaintance without fact. Oppression, in fact, has made me act crazy.

To add salt on my pus-filled injury, my whisper to my deads welcomes the worst of reply. Silence. Worst because of the betrayal of their magnificence. Worst because of the affinity of their blood that circles my being. Even where the Jews claim their God, I should cling to mine or mine should cling to me(for out of ancestral spirits, ancestral gods are made, or so I think). Worst for the non refutation of the rumoured liberation of a generation for the enslavement of the rest, with the tyranny of newt, nailed the key of ransom in the nucleus of a palm. Unknown. Yet, silence. Silence in an ectoplasmic façade of falsehood, capable only for brim-eyed relics of history which their foolish sons, denied of kingdom, take pride in. Like the pride of sons of Francisco Sforza for becoming ordinary citizens after being dukes, which their father, because he was armed, achieved after being an ordinary citizen.

Friend, you can never imagine the shame my poor spirit bears whenever I hear the childish elders of my family speak, with paroxysm of pride, about our family heritage. When they pride themselves about as descendants of the great Namaoke, the ancestral father who founded the land upon which, Kings, not from his flesh, now bear the heirloom-name title, the same way that Caesar became Caesar. And no one among them ever wonders why the foundation laid by the founders foundered. Their name is enough for them. The pride they take in rich heritage explains why we, royalties stripped of highness, keep silent to the daily taunting we endure from our compulsion to the clownish crown-wearing— a servitude for mockery in a disguised name of king-making!

I still ask the never-answered question: why did we become wretched citizens? Why should our Kings bear “Namaoke” as if no son exists in my bloodline, who is fit for kingship? I am too impatient to await the revelation of time. I need a straightforward answer. Or am I not worth it? Is It enough, the secret engraved on palm, to be read, by aborted king to the king who may be aborted, to cure miscarriage? Or, does the answer dangle on my nose, begging my eyes to simply look down and see? Was that why fair father called for three days before his passage? NWANNENNEE! Maybe he called for transmission of secret. Oh! If only he was not tricked. If only I was not told to tarry far from the site of ultimate valediction milked into the terrible well, probably, I would have my secret. That secret because of which father of sons vowed departure of a first son for a return which foreshadows redemption and when he witnessed his return, made him stoop for the confirmation of incarnation. But, he did not see him become a man.

Friend, imagine how rife with sadness fair father was before his demise. Imagine the suffocating anguish that guided his thought as he designated a family land, which sequestration, inevitably could, in his deluded mind, afford his funeral. Can you measure the volume of agony smouldering his dying heart when he made that designation, sobbingly saying that Nwannenne, being in school, he knew, could do only so much? With his last breath, he grieved the inevitable non-burial of his remains in a grave-house.

Let that quivered voice unfurled in lamentation for a grave-house continue to hunt me. Let the birth of my joy be at mourning spree, in the longed grave-house. Let that land selected for a sale-for-burial be the souvenir of my sorrow. Let the heirs of my flesh trace family trees on the blade of its belly. For then, my anguish may find relief.

Out of my three foes, only poverty is courageous enough to contend with me. He is my older brother, whom I will beat. I know I will win. I have won before. That was when I beat illiteracy in a fist fight. My jacobed body, a testament of war fought to loose. For, to crack the crag of inconsequence and wound into a new dance, one must crush the shell of comfort, of passive acquiescence, while one deeps ones fingers into fire and with its flame forge, out of insignificance, a coarse existence into riches. I still fight ignorance. My win emboldened you, friend, to crown me your Chief Judge whose formalization was aborted by the strain to save sick mother.

Things have always been like this, friend. Nature almost always takes out the bests or makes an elimination of them to give room for rookies. It eliminated Yonatan for Benjamin to Netanyahu. Same was the case with Assad. Roman Empire loudly attests to this obvious truth. If Abel was not murdered, Seth would not be the ancestor of Jesus. The great one of Igboeli will, from the lonely dome of his careened grave, nod a beaten head in agreement.

Fear, a slaughterhouse of potentials, sometimes a spur, plays her part as well. It kills or resurrects, depending on how you treat that impostor. When Revanchism was born by the defeat of Carthage by Rome in the First Punic War, Hannibal seeing that he might lose everything to the Romans, in panic, became a lion. Although he lost in war, he won in glory. The same with Spartacus. I remember the day a man said he would not fight with my household because no man existed in my home, who could face him. That saying fired me with fear. That fear of not having anyone capable to face a foe turns me, forever, into a fighter. That fear that, perhaps, just perhaps, a father’s nephew may, again, order his guards to beat me up, inculcates in me the importance of guards.

The fear still follows me stubbornly as a mother hen, looking for an opportunity to pounce. Yet, a desideratum, lest I, son of Sciva attempt, before gaining identity, to exorcise spirits.

When the seven sons of Sciva met a man with evil spirits and ordered the spirits out of their host in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preached. In response, the spirits, after their acknowledgement of Jesus and Paul asked the sons of Sciva of their own identities. They had non. In bout of rage, the man with the evil spirits overpowered them one and all and they fled naked. That sorry story taught me that where one fails to pitch ones tent in the community of importance, one becomes useless to oneself, to ones society and contemptible, even to the spirits. Were the sons of Sciva a Jesus or a Paul, no evil spirit would dare attempt a combat with them. But insignificance is a pain too unbearable to be condoned by the spirits, how much more by humans.

That same fear could cave in a lion. That capricious Antiochus iv Epiphanes comes to mind. Save for fear, the humiliation at Eleusis would not occur, where the old Roman Ambassador, Gaius Popillius Laenas in crassly “offensive and exceedingly arrogant” manner, to quote the words of Polybius In his book, The Histories, drew a circle against Antiochus and asked him not to step out of it until he complied with the Roman Senate’s demand that he, Antiochus, abdicate his position as the king of the Ptolemaic dynasty, which he crowned himself after his masterful military conquest of the kingdom. Antiochus, out of fear, capitulated and, eventually, died in shame! How different, the death of Cleopatra the vii. When her army was overrun and defeated by the Roman army under Octavia in the Battle of Actium, Cleopatra, with her lover General, Mark Antony, fled to Egypt for remobilization, and when they could not stand at Battle of Alexandria, they, for fear of loosing their dignities, took their own lives. What great a chivalry! The highest existential choice, available only to those whose valour is big enough to mock death. The Hemingways, Woolfes, Plaths, name them. Not me. Not Ogundipe. Not Tolstoy whose biggest regret is the cowardly evasion of death, when life, a traitor blew betrayal from the concourse of bliss into abysmally sand-eating living. That too is called life. No argument. The phenomenological subjectivism of living corrodes ontology, birthing to us fools a distractor.

But where there is intentional evaluation, happiness is jesus. It’s death is for the healing of the nation. But it dies forever. In sober reflection, it counts all bruises. The most painful—bruise of the mind. Contused feeling is contiguous to nothing. This greatest tragedy of human existence, notwithstanding, life learns to jut itself with glee. For misery knows how to mesh itself in the maze of mystery, to churn, out of the furnace of bone-clean want, a miracle of white laughter. And I, the miner, watch the fleetingness of our days in awl. I measure the volume of its void essence in telescopic nihilism, as man dies among mules.

These are enough to make one give up. Life, “the consequence of lost”, intrudes in our privacy without prompting, there is no doubt about this. If, then, we are masters of our lives, we are, at least, at liberty to be in charge of its end, having not been consulted before its beginning. Ipuwar new this before Christ. I too do. Still, too cowardly to apply it now or ever.

My concern, in the meantime, friend, is that men enjoy their wealth and depression. I enjoy non. Wealth is my enemy at present, and depression, a luxury, too expensive for me. Nor can I divest my responsibilities to a third party and die. I am just too responsible for a bow-out, albeit that life never gives us not what we deserve.


For instance, it could not be said that, among more than three hundred persons, the best are three fellows that they alone should declare interest for the office of Chief Judge. Tiny as they are unimportant. The most terrible among them, a one-and-half-legged. No Innocent believed in him. Happily, he was subdued out of the race by the paucity of his pocket, lest his coronation be baptized in the waters of polling station.

The two candidates, whose threat had been buried by the meanness of my penniless pocket, after my disqualification by want, braced for battle. And a tiny looser, only angered for being beaten by a tinier one. The consequence of “a little schooling for our naïve” electorates. That is how history is made. I am part of that history. A chose of a lesser inconvenience.

My sin will be, friend, to allow your concern heart to hearten into wondering: ‘why did you not reach out to friends for support?’ A sin too often sinned for me to sin it. Most truthfully, friends reached out to me. An arrangement for a support group to crest my sail with the joy of the sea waves into my baptism was made. I declined it. Maybe, out of pride, but more from my conviction. Friends fumbled in the sea of persuasion foiled by my view of the delicateness of the calling I was to be called into. How can Justice possibly be seen as done when a judge presides over a matter between a person who brought him to power with their own money and another who did not? I thought. Consequent to this, I rejected all their support with gratitude They eternally remain my heroes, just as you are my hero.

Nevertheless, I do not presume on friends. They can do only so much for one who can do so little for oneself. Yet, I reached out to some. Not for a liberation to drink from the waters of judicial headship, but for the silence of a wail for non-intimation. Of ‘had you told me…that is nothing… you know’, which accompanies the lips of “saviours”, who promised Two Million but were unwilling with eighty-thousand for the execution. If sick mother is worth Two Thousand Five Hundred, then, I am worth much lesser.

Even in my efforts to secure silence, my plight had become a burden because of which no other friend could be helped. An excuse to relieve oneself from the burden of love. Since the one born for me is heavier than ones own. Nonetheless, I regret it not. I regret not the revelation of counterfeit support. Regret not making conspicuous, the hand not ready to render support. Thanks to Alexander Pope, who initiated me into the cult of stoicism: “Blessed is a man who expects nothing”, he said to me, “since he shall not be disappointed.” I expected nothing, hence, my happiness. No. Not happiness. No disappointment. I lost happiness when I lost fair father. It, as I said, will be born again, on a mourning day, in his grave-house.

At the miscarriage of my baptism, as always, I was prompted to become a judge, in which my first attempt was grounded on a failure groomed on “everything is not book.” The second, on my failure to calculate my opinionation with quadratic precision. For no titrated measurement of stream of my opinion with universal coefficient of its algebraic expression. That was how I lost that too.

Any sober failure of my rank, friend, will pause and ponder. But not me. Activism, a handmade of powerlessness, has its curious tentacles on my soul. It harms both the activist and those whom they intend to save. Passion always runs high when the afflicted become restless and are poised to rape the system which occasions their torment. And in the heat of passion, frailty spills over its byproduct—wrongness. The thousand errors of Ndlozi and Malema, apotheosis of this fact. When Dragutin Dimitrijevic saw irredentism as his inescapable duty, in a bid to achieve that goal, he turned himself into a ringleader of Black Hand, a militant secret society and inadvertently triggered World War1. Although his intentions were noble, his acts were not only condemnable but cost Serbia so much as the war lingered. His best intentions, notwithstanding, claimed his life and the lives of others he strove to protect. This experience teaches us, as he himself put it, that “in taking any action, one almost always runs the risk of being sometimes wrong.” I too must have, without intending it, wronged some right thinking persons. I solemnly regret it. These are the prices we pay for fight for freedom: our friendship, brain, brawn and sometimes, even our blood; impulsive oblations on the altar of a new way. If only my restiveness for sanity could afford it. If only crafty mendacity could dilute that sudden spirit for rightness, I would be friend with the “big boys”, whose love for Dear Youth is so strong that they, at all time, are ready to die for Dear Youth, provided that everything but death is possible; to slave for Dear Youth, provided they are the sole beneficiaries of the servitude.

But not my restiveness. It could not afford attenuation of beggarliness in peace pseudonym. It refuses, out of fear of death by instalment, to be bottled in cage of friendship. To have a palace in the darkest places of hell which, in Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie said, “is reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in the face of moral crisis.” Never have I allowed the man in me to die for a stance of silence “in the face of tyranny.” Not now. So I spoke. And enmity is born.

The most ridiculous thing, friend, is that most of those aggrieved by my message did not know what it said. The caption, alone, is enough for them, or it is enough for them to be told they are called “cohorts” or that one has the temerity to question rascality. And they ask: ‘why should you be the one to write?’ ‘Why not a person other than our mate?’ Those seemingly logical questions assault my sensibility. If I do not write it, who will? If I do not challenge madness now, when? I should not have written that because I am not a spokesperson to the Barnabas. This too, is a fantastic bullshit. I was not a spokesperson to any Capital when, I, in the best tact I could afford, attempted to persuade Barnabas to step down. I was not a spokesperson to any Capital when, at the Student Affairs, I queried a clandestine disqualification. Not a spokesperson when I wrote against it to the anger of many. But, I do not care. My life was brought forth by hate. We have always been companions.

Friend, my many enemies have taught me that the best to do in this wicked world is to remain ignorant and indifferent. “The more you know”, Henry James, in The Portrait Of A Lady, told us, “the more unhappy you are.” The more you know how bad things are and how they are supposed to be, the more the blinding conspicuousness of the butchery against order will relentlessly hunt your unhappy life; a malady, whose antidote is ignorance. Where ignorance fails, indifference takes its course. Humans begin to agitate when they feel involved and concerned. Remove them and be free. But not me. Not for anyone who thinks oneself worth anything or thinks it is worthwhile to think of oneself as worth anything. Not for one who knows they have but burdened life whose only redemption is death. Who understands that the invaluableness of existentialism is in giving meaning to the meaningless, not in being given meaning by the meaningless. A life of passiveness is a life by proxy; an accumulation of hateful fame by inactivity, which is worse than failure. Even then, your hate will be occasioned by your sitting in the fence, your place will be reckoned, in abhorrence, among swines.

Hence, I choose words over silence. I make all enemies that come with that fame. The other fame has it’s own enmity. For even silence incurs its own hate for the loudness of her voice in solitude. I choose the dignified masquerade of speaking the truth. That, also, is a source of dignity. That pride that gives one reason to live when one is laden by loads of living, and one sees no solution but to leave. It is a pin that nails chameleon to whiteness, while its dwellings is in the dark. That quest for dignity is my incentive; it, along the shame of fair father, is my spur.

Friend, in case you did not see my name on the ballot, I did not step down. That will mean the betrayal of your thrust. I only steeped to catch my breath. I stepped low to learn the art of regeneration. To revitalize from my mortal wound inflicted on me by a hunched heritage; never again to be disqualified by pennilessness.

If, to you, this letter is too dim to comprehend, know that it is from a man with lame-light too dim to lit. A man whose sad tory is written on weary waters; know that you are incapable of comprehending the sad philosophy of my life.

Yours faithfully, Ude Ogbodo Okereke

Ude Ogbodo Okereke is a final year law student, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. His works have appeared in Brittle Paper, and various legal magazines. When he is not reading or arguing, he mourns his country. He tweets @OgbodoUde.

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