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The Pius Adesanmi I knew

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I met Pius Adesanmi in February 1992 at the University of Ilorin. Though we were in the same department (he was of the French arm, while I was of the English section of the Department of Modern European Languages (as it was then known), he was three years my senior. However, he and my elder brother, Segun Emosu, who belonged in another department of the Faculty of Arts were mates. And we also shared the same hall of residence then. His room downstairs was just some steps away from H2/28 on the upper floor, where I was squatting with my brother.

This proximity afforded me the opportunity to know that the brilliant Pius Adesanmi was not all only about books. He was a jovial, lively person who could just saunter anytime into our room whose all ‘legal’ occupants were final year Arts students like him, pull some ‘verbal trouble’ and walk away.

That Pius Adesanmi was roundly brilliant went without saying. It was even legendary. During the one academic session I spent with Pius Adesanmi at Unilorin, a particular story spread like wildfire in the harmattan, at least round the mini campus of the institution. Every student of language – be it English, French, Yoruba, etc – must offer courses in the linguistics department throughout their course of study. This applied to Pius Adesanmi as a student of French. He had been taking the linguistics courses right from his 100 Level. And he had been turning in good results too. But in his final year he must offer the courses being taken by a particular lecturer in the linguistics department who notoriously was never generous with marks. The paths of the lecturer, a professor of the Old Order, who was one of the three founding professors at the takeoff of Unilorin in the 1975/76 academic session did not cross until then because the professor was always taking senior classes. Baba was miserly in assessing his students and Pius was never known for scoring grades less than ‘A’. Talk of the trader who is ever bent on not filling the standard measurement to its brim and his client who would never accept otherwise. Long story short. In the first semester, one student made a mince meat of whatever were the old professor’s standards. Very unlike him, the professor had to (deservedly) give the student an ‘A’ grade. The course had a continuation in the second semester and the story was the same as the professor had no choice but to give unto Caesar what belonged unto Caesar. Bewildered, the professor, we even heard, had to seek out who the student that arm-twisted him in two consecutive semesters was. That student was Pius Adesanmi. That academic calendar year, Unilorin produced three or four (I can’t exactly remember now) First Class graduates. Out of that number, I remember this very well, Adesanmi was the only First Class student from the Faculty of Arts.

Not too surprisingly, in his chosen field, Pius became a professor, a cistern of knowledge feeding humanity to better the society. But alas, that cistern suddenly got shattered on Sunday.

Sangba fo!

Kokoro ni ko je ki n gbadun obi t’ogbo

Iku ni k’oje ki n gbadun eni rere.

Bi a ba n rebi a ma dani logun odun,

Bi a ba n rajo a ma dani logbon osu

Pius Adebola Adesannmi lo ko dagbere fun enikankan!!!

Pius Again?

(Dirge for Pius Adesanmi)

 

Boeing…

Going…

Gone!

 

Elder!

Brother!

Pray!

 

Pius…

Passenger Pius!

 

Silence

Silence of the night

Silence

Of the hourglass drums

Silence!

 

That night −

It seemed the jackal

Was on the prowl

But those were the stealthy steps

Of the nocturnal owl

 

The night −

Darkness shut in the skylight

And no roaming birds in sight

Night…

Dreams…

And nightmares…

 

It was the surreal portrait

Of your morning

And the mourning to come

 

Boeing…

Going…

Gone!

The Big Bird must fly

But to perch no more

 

Earth!

Not the hieroglyphic bird of Egypt

O! the wide wings of Ethiopia!

That bore your free spirit

In the sultry space

Of the Nubian skies

 

Boeing…

Going…

Gone!

It was your last flight

Like a lost child in the cold

Like a helpless bird

Bathed and beaten in the rain

 

It was your last flight

But the eagle did not fly −

The night owl had spoken

It whispered in the eaves

It cried in the alcoves

But the dreams, too,

They were shady and surreal…

 

It was your omen

The omen of your final flight

And the plumage

Of your free spirit

Would perch no more!

Silence

Silence of daytime

Silence

Of the tired-wing crow

Silence!

 

This morning

Earth rises no more

It cries, it cracks, it cackles

But the lion’s roar

Moves the mahogany no more!

 

It was your final flight

And the forest trees

Buried their boughs

And bore no branches

For your perching wings

O Pius!

 

The eaves and the alcoves −

Now they sing out of tune

As the pigeons

Parry the setting sun

And the young fruits

Of your youth

Ripen and rot

Before your midlife market!

 

Boeing…

Going…

Gone!

The night waits in vain

In vain, to see

Your hoary tufts

Follicles now never to be –

The silver strands

That never flowered!

 

Silence

Silence of the streets

Silence

Silence of the marketplace

Silence

Silence of the city square

Silence!

 

The deaths that trailed

In the backyard,

And tracked your travelling paths,

Now have left the streets sombre

And our brows buried

Beneath unseen aches of indignation −

This sullen sunrise…

 

Abiodun M. Bello,

Lagos.

13 March, 2019

The post The Pius Adesanmi I knew appeared first on Tribune Online.

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