Friday, January 31, 2014

Daniel Odaka, Brian Lutta, Clay Kharat - Gone But Not Forgotten

Death evokes fear in most of us that sometimes I am okay with it though most times, it freaks me out.

When it comes to my demise, I wonder how I will bow out of the world arena. Would it be a long and strung out affair in hospital? Or will it be fast and unexpected like being hit by a speeding trailer on Jinja Road?

I met Daniel Odaka and Brian Lutta in the 70s. Daniel and I shared a room at school in Kenya for close to six years and we remained close friends later on in England and when we returned home. I also met Brain in Kenya and we were good friends even though he was years younger than me.

In town on a summer vacation, I knew where to find them – at Uganda House. On this vacation, there was no Brian. Brian had passed on - something that utterly devastated me for why Brian? He was young and still living his life.

Why did it have to be him yet there are so many very old people out there who have nothing left to offer to society? Why couldn’t God do away with one of those and leave Brian alone? But I don’t work in heaven so I don’t know the answer.

I have never quite recovered from Brian’s death or Daniel’s a number of years later. Daniel was the brother I never had and we were like cajoled twins in our friendship. When doctors operate to separate cajoled twins, usually one twin survives and the other dies. In this case, it is I who survived and though it has been years since the separation, it is a slog going on with life without Daniel.

I met Samuel Clay Kharat through OPP back in the day when Wagadugu was still being run by Peter Otim. I thought of him as a ‘hippy’ who was trapped in cyberspace and expecting the ‘flower power’ days of the 60s to return because of his long hair, flared jeans and nonchalant outlook on life.

In the course of our friendship, I found out he was an excellent graphics designer whose works adorned most of the billboards in the city. And visiting him at home, I sometimes wondered whether he was a relation to Mahatma Gandhi, because he always sat cross legged though unlike Gandhi who wrapped himself up in bed sheets, Clay wore clothes.   

Our extracurricular activities were legendary – well to ourselves that is. Whenever he drank his Club, I sometimes could never understand why he drank so slowly or why he never emptied the bottle.

One thing about Clay was that he was always in intellectual thought and being innovative. Ideas seemingly sprung to him with little effort - each being better than the last. He was a genius.

I had been calling him for a week to take him out for a beer but his phone was always off then found he was in hospital and in a coma. But how? Surely there must be a mistake.

Then Leo called late in the night and delivered the tragic news. Clay was gone. While it’s been two months since he passed on, I feel bitter, very bitter with the system heaven employs in deciding who should live and who dies. Was it necessary to take Clay, Brian and Daniel away from us yet better deserving candidates like Joseph Kony and Bin Laden’s cronies continue to run amok?

When it comes to death, the people who work in heaven are so messed up and lack compassion that they need to go back to the drawing board and get their house in order.  


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