December is a great month for everyone. It is a time of love and family reunions. A time when the atmosphere is filled with laughter and happiness. And for me as a child, it is a time I look up to with great longing.
Mr Edet and his family often spent the Christmas season with my family. Ben, their son, happened to be my best friend because we shared the same position in the family as the last born.
We often looked forward to every December, as it was the only opportunity we had to see each other and spend time together.
There was this play Ben and I played as children. We called it “The bad play”. We would go to the bathroom, close the door, pull down our shorts, grab each other and hold ourself very tight, for about 30 seconds or one minute. After that, we will come out of the bathroom and resume our normal play. I was always the one who suggested “The bad play”, and each time I brought up the idea, Ben would always agree without any argument.
We started “The bad play” when we were 13 years of age. The fun of it meant the whole world to us, that we couldn’t wait for Decembers to come. After three consecutive Christmases, Ben and I fell in love with each other. That attachment became rigid and unbreakable.
On the 21st of December 2015, my dad told us during breakfast, that Mr Edet and his family were on their way to celebrate the season with us as usual. I was excited and couldn’t wait to see Ben. We waited for them anxiously at the Veranda. At about 3:00 pm, I ran to my dad to ask why Mr. Edet and his family were yet to arrive. My dad told me to relax that they would soon be with us.
Two hours later, I started having a strange feeling, and as well became uncomfortable.
I went to my dad to ask him again, why our visitors haven’t arrived. I could tell, that my dad too was worried, from the way he responded. The Edets were supposed to be with us between the hours of 3 and 4 pm. But it was now after 5 and there was still no sign of them yet.
My family was uncomfortable and couldn’t help but wonder what could be wrong. I couldn’t bear the thought of anything happening to Ben.
“Dad, can we go and look for them? I told my father after some time.
“I think Junior is right, let’s go and look for them,” my mum said.
Without a second thought, my dad picked up his car key from the table and walked down to the garage. I caught up with him before he started the car, and joined him at the front seats. My mum came out just the moment we drove off from the gate.
We first drove to the car park in our town, to see if we could get any information from the drivers that came through the same route. It was then the news hit us.
There had been an accident on a highway just at the outskirt of the town, and only a few people had survived. At that moment, my world became cold. Tears flowed down from my eyes. I could see my dad’s body chugging a broken train. Without wasting much of our time, we drove to the accident scene. The cars involved were unrecognizable, disfigured into shattered pieces. There were many sympathizers at the scene. Dead bodies lay onto each other in a pool of blood, like firewoods piled up for bonfire. My crying became uncontrollable. I could not stop thinking of Ben.
One of the witnesses told us the people who had narrowly survived the accident, had been taken to a nearby hospital. My dad and I drove off to see them. The moment we got to the hospital, we could hear some people crying at the Accident and Emergencies. This time I was sure my Ben was no more. I could feel my heart pounding against my ribcage. My dad and I went to the reception to get more details.
“Where can we see the survivals,“ My dad asked a nurse at the reception
“I’m sorry sir, the last person we thought would survive has just passed on- a young of boy sixteen. He has been taken to the morgue also” The nurse said.
My dad held my hand as we walked back to the car. “Stop crying Junior” he managed to console me.
He opened the door of the vehicle “Get into the car lets go home” he continued “you are too young to battle this tragedy.
He drove us back home. We were silent althrough the ride.
Few meters away from our house, I could hear the sound of music playing very loud from our compound. My dad and I stared at each other. If only our family knew what had happened.
My dad parked the car on the garage. Just about the time, we came out of the vehicle, Mr Edet and his family came running down to us. My dad was short of words.
“I hope I’m not dreaming,” he said and hugged the Edets one after the other.
I looked very closely at the whole family and noticed somebody was missing among them. I could not see my Ben.
“Where is Ben? “I asked.
“Ben went to spend the Christmas with his grandmother” Mr. Edet answered
I bent my head in disappointment. Ben knew what we meant to me, and how rarely he saw each other. Why then would he choose not to come this time around?
All of a sudden, someone came from behind and placed his arms around me. At first, I never knew who it was, not until I heard his voice.
“Hi Junior” Ben said from behind.
“Oh my God!! Ben” I exclaimed.
Ben ran into the house and I went after him. We had a lot of catching up to do. At my room, he suggested if we can play “The bad play”, and as you can guess, we did more than hold each other this time around. I thought I had lost him moments ago, and wouldn’t wait for another year to tell him how much I loved him. It was the best play we ever had.
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