I was only blessed to have known Nabil for just over 6 months. I met him through a mutual friend and like everyone who knew him, I immediately fell for his personality. He had the most beautiful and mischievous smile and an infectious laugh. He was warm, kind, gentle and very charming. He was also very handsome but somehow did not seem to realise it.
The best thing about Nabil was that he was unbelievably smart. He and his best friend had just moved to Lagos to start up and I.T company and he had the whole world at his feet.
Just like me, he loved to argue. But unlike me, he had a complete and unshakeable faith in Nigeria. He believed that Nigeria was the best country in the world and despite having options, never wanted to live anywhere else in the world. My first argument with him was about the publication declaring Nigeria “a failed state”. It was after the bombing of the U.N building in Abuja. I agreed with the article which I had read in detail, based on the index of poverty, infrastructure, healthcare, religious and intertribal violence, insecurity and the potential growth of the economy.
It was about 9pm on a Friday evening and we were outside Cafe 24 having cocktails and pizza with two other friends. His first statement was if Nigeria is a failed state, would you be here so late at night in a bar having this argument with me? I had no reply. He was that kind of person. We debated at the top of our voices till the Cafe Closed.
Our second major argument was at Salamanda, our favourite spot in Abuja, where we went so often they knew us by name. He always ordered the freshly squeezed lemonade. We argued about weather Northern men expected their women to be submissive to them. From this we switched to weather Boko Haram was a political or religious group, why women had so many shoes and why such a handsome guy chose to remain single. We could talk endlessly.
The last time I saw Nabil was on Sunday the 6th of May 2012. Exactly a week before he died. I went over to his apartment which he just moved into with his best friend and business partner. The three of us had been meaning to go for sushi as they had convinced me that sushi in Lagos was as good as anywhere else in the world, but because of our hectic schedules we had kept postponing. I was so close to cancelling on that day as well, I’m so glad I didn’t.
He gave me a tour of his bachelor pad, showed me his beautiful bike and he promised to take me riding as soon he got a spare helmet. He described vividly how amazing the movie Avengers was, and promised to take me the following week. I convinced him that he needed me to throw them a house warming party and he agreed, we were considering the following Sunday. He excitedly explained all the projects they were working on, and promised to talk to my friend about helping her advertise. I told him about an issue I was having with my Ipad and he promised to help me fix it. None of these were to happen.
As I stepped out the door with his best friend to have sushi, Nabil was already falling asleep on the sofa. I told him I was leaving and he gave me a sleepy hug and kiss on the cheek. Never in a million years would I have imagined that this would be the last time I would ever see Nabil.
When I got the call that Nabil had died of a Cerebral Haemorrhage, I was inconsolable. Partly because I had just seen him and he was perfectly fine, partly because I had gotten impatient that he kept postponing seeing Avengers, and partly because I could not comprehend such a loss.
When you lose someone you start to question everything, asking ‘Why do bad things happen to good people?’ Nabil embodied everything good. He did not drink, smoke or take drugs. He was honest, generous and had integrity. There are few of my friends I can say the same of.
He was let down by the health system of the country he believed so much in. There was no surgeon to attend to him once he fell into a coma, even at the supposed best hospitals in Lagos. He was let down by the infrastructure, the staff, the government, and ultimately Nigeria. He died as he was being flown to the U.K for treatment.
I am still coming to terms with the loss. All I can do is pray that he rests in perfect peace. I can’t help but wonder if I made as much an impact on his life as he made on mine.