Saturday, 17 November 2012

Thought Picnic: The farewell to Remi Lagos


To wit
Yesterday, I was persuaded of a simple thing, to do what friends are supposed to do without much prompting even though it took a while before I appreciated the basic “Be there for me” message.
Firstly, anytime I hear of anyone dying of cancer, my own vulnerability is expressed so vividly to me in stark reality that I become more conscious of how lucky I am, how blessed I have been and the so many things I needs must do before the end comes by reason of the cycle of life. It is for a reason that I was spared, I should make it count even if my folly tends to stupid fatalism at times.
Signs and directions
I was invited to attend a requiem which I only really finally decided to attend a few hours before and so I prepared and made for the venue. On getting to station nearest to the venue, I realised my bearings were not as sure as they should be and even though I got my navigator out to help the problem was the main roads did not have signs; as if visitors were just expected to know which road was which.
In circumstances like that, the smart thing to do is find a café and order both a coffee and ask for directions. Opposite, Golders Green station was a café offering free WiFi which also happened to be Persian. The cakes and sweet things as checked my love-handles; I just had a café latte and a coconut biscuit before asking for how to get to the Golders Green Crematorium.
The estimated trekking time was 9 minutes from the station, if I knew where I was going to but even that did not seem to be sign-posted from the station or maybe I was not observant enough. I finally, saw the signpost at the turn off into Hoop Lane and what a busy road it was. As I arrived, my friend was outside we hugged and then I was introduced before I was ushered into the sanctuary.
New realisation
The sanctuary had 5 funerals scheduled and ours was the fourth of the day. When I settled down the coffin was brought in to a chanted mantra – a revelation – in fact, many revelations, I was attending a Buddhist funeral in the midst of a majorly ethnic community that comprised mostly of Nigerians. Yes, to all the questions you might have.
Then we were welcomed and the whole proceedings were explained to us before the religious service began with solemn chants and the ringing of bells.
The eulogy spoke of an amazing wonderful lady whose life was a free spirit, full of excitement and its complexities blazing a trail that mentored, touched and refreshed others with creativity and buzz – for all the sadness we might have felt, her story was one of joie de vive, humour, laughter and great fun – I felt this was one person I would have liked to meet and know.
The service ended with the music of Frank Sinatra – My Way; the anthem if there was one of the unique, non-conformist, one of a kind and different person whose life can only be celebrated as one well lived a life worthy of emulation in the many amazing things she did.
A life well lived
At the reception, I learnt more about the lady who came to be known as Remi Lagos from the eclectic mix of friends from all around the world unencumbered by the strictures of myopic sententiousness that sometimes becomes people of our heritage or those who are indigenously non-Western, she never did the conventional not in life and not now in death.
It was reaffirmed to me that above all else people and relationships matter more than beliefs, creeds, traditions or customs – the daring and freedom to be ourselves is at first the greatest love of all and its expression liberates us to cultivate and nurture friendships even strangely long after we have departed.
Remi Lagos lives on in the fond memories recalled about her and in the light of that, I made new friends too.

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