An Experience I'll Never Forget...By Late Jika Attoh

 The Note - for Fabian Adibe

In the pre-Nollywood era, I was once cast to play a leading role in a stage production, directed by the renowned playwright, Fabian Adibe.

After weeks of strenuous rehearsals, we were commissioned to perform for a visiting Irish trade delegation at government house.

Concluding a final dress rehearsal, we left the HRC hall to rest for a while before meeting at 7PM at the Press Centre for the command performance.

I lived alone at Nwodo Close, GRA and back at the house, a note from my maiden aunt at Imoke Street said I should see her as soon as I got the note.

It sounded urgent.

I took a quick bath, laid out my costume for the performance later in the evening, and took a cab to my aunt's.

Ordinarily, I would be let in by the house help, but when nobody responded to my repeated knocking, I let myself in.

Again, the front door was open, which was unusual.

Nobody was anywhere in sight. I called out but no response.

I went to the sleeping rooms upstairs and . . .

Things just spun out of control:

the place looked like a hurricane had run through it.

Auntie was a meticulously orderly person - sometimes infuriatingly so!!

It was alarming to see her room in such a mess.

Things were scattered all over and, to my horror, Auntie was lying grotesquely between the massive bed and her dressing table.


Everything around her was bloodied up as if someone had splashed generous cups of crimson magenta paint over everything.


I ran to her and a brief inspection showed she was still alive.

In a frenzy, I ran downstairs and all the way to the intersection where I got a cab.

Between the cab driver and me, we managed to drag, pull and carry my Size 48 aunt to the car.

At the old Teaching Hospital, I raised hell.

And got immediate attention: doctors, nurses, paramedics - everyone got involved.

They took over.

Wheeled her to the theatre . . .

Outside, I just walked.

I was completely distraught.

Up till that moment, I had acted automatically.

My mind was in overdrive.

Suddenly, reality hit me.

Auntie had obviously been attacked by her domestic help, whom she trusted beyond reason.

Why did she send an urgent note requesting me to see her?

She was due to take her annual overseas vacation in another couple of weeks.

So, cash must have been the objective of the attack. Foreign currency.

Did she sense any danger?

A thousand thoughts running through my mind: report to the police,

locate the househelp,

reach her family in Asaba and the U.K. . . .

Then I was jerked back to the present. The hospital orderly was running towards me and shouting something in his  language.

The doctor needed to see me.

I raced back with him.

The doctor, doctors, nurses everybody was talking . . .  or maybe nobody was talking:

auntie died on the operating slab.

Then, from nowhere, I was jolted into another realm:

There was a command performance at government house at 9PM!!!

I had the lead role.

I looked at my wristwatch:

It was 15 minutes past midnight.

Then I wept!!

I just didn't cry from the anguish of loss or the pain of disappointment, I simply dissolved on the hospital corridor and wept uncontrollably.

This was a long time before the age of mobile phones.

Somehow, I got to the residence the next day, and was greeted by a terse note from the director:

"The only thing that will save you from death for ruining my production and my reputation is that you are already dead."

I folded the note and stuck it in a book.

"You needn't bother," I said to myself, "I am already dead."

Time passed . . .

Things happened.

I never went on stage again.

Fabian died.

More time passed . . .

This morning, I saw the book, after over 30 years.

And Fabian's note!!

I wonder why, but I just wept again . . .

First Published By Jika Attoh on 20th November 2020

Mr Attoh died on Wednesday 25th October 2023


Chris Kehinde Nwandu is the Editor In Chief of CKNNEWS || He is a Law graduate and an Alumnus of Lagos State University, Lead City University Ibadan and Nigerian Institute Of Journalism || With over 2 decades practice in Journalism, PR and Advertising, he is a member of several Professional bodies within and outside Nigeria || Member: Institute Of Chartered Arbitrators ( UK ) || Member : Institute of Chartered Mediators And Conciliation || Member : Nigerian Institute Of Public Relations || Member : Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria || Fellow : Institute of Personality Development And Customer Relationship Management || Member and Chairman Board Of Trustees: Guild Of Professional Bloggers of Nigeria

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