My father died on 17/12/2015. He was 82 years old. No autopsy was done but I suspect the cause was complications from a brain hemorrhage he had suffered about a month earlier. Even though I loved him, and I was closer to him than to my mom, one of the first feelings I had when I got the news was relief. An investment he had made on my advice had gone sour and the money was lost. I felt relief that I did not have to explain my failure to him.
In the last few years, there has been much written about unemployment and underemployment in the US. There is much lamentation on the plight of adults moving back to live with retired parents because the kids cannot earn enough to live in the style to which they are accustomed. Such a problem has been endemic for a long time in Nigeria. In our case, it is sometimes worsened by a culture of deference to one's parents. On the flip side, parents feel a sense of obligation to their children no matter how old the child is. If the parent is rich or powerful or both, the child will have lots of advantages so long as the parent lives. Depending on the person's abilities, the wealth or power remains even after the parent's death. And thus a friend who came to share my grief said to me "your shield has fallen." His own father had died a few years earlier. He explained to me that a father's protection is like a shield to soldier on a battlefield. A soldier who has both sword and shield has a better chance of surviving than one who had only sword. I have learnt how correct that statement is. My father, while he was alive had a reputation that I could ride on. Now, I am forging mine. And it is hard. Nigeria is a harsh place. There is a sullen malice that makes people hinder even the simplest objectives. One has to fight extraordinarily hard to achieve anything. The longer one fights, the better a fighter one becomes. And so, I am fighting, without a shield. Hopefully, I will triumph.