Friday, August 8, 2014

THEN THE COOKIE CRUMBLED: Tribute to Benkay



Rarely do men live a life of impact. Though it’s the dream of most, usually that is how far it goes; a dream. But Benkay belongs to that first grade of individuals who have left their prints not just on the sands of time, but on the floors of our hearts; my heart.

When I heard the news of Benkay’s demise, “devastated” would be a cliché and too kind a word to express how I felt. I cannot find the words; to express the deep sadness that descended upon me. But I knew another generation of stars had just been deprived the chance to the burnished by the gentle brush of Benkay’s love and charm. His intellect and kindness that does not hold back.
I haven’t had frequent correspondence with Benkay since my industrial attachment in 2013, but a year later when I needed his help with my undergraduate project and placed a call through to him, it seemed as though a day had not gone by without us talking.

“Alaye mi Gbengulo”, his disembodied voice boomed into my ear and I could picture the smile forming on his handsome face. We talked and talked like old friends, not minding I was decades younger than he was. He made me comfortable. That was the kind of man Benkay was. Though his health was failing, he made sure my project was completed in record time. I could never wrap my head around that kind of kindness. That kind of self-sacrifice and Spartan humility. I would remember the look of satisfaction on his when I told him few weeks later that “my project was done”, it was like the project had been his all along. That sense of ownership was irrepressible. His face dissolved into a wide smile as he said; “and that is how the cookie crumbles”. His signature. He used to say almost at the end of every sentence.

Benkay. The cookie of your stay here among us may have crumbled, but we do not forget those tiny crumbs of love you left in our hearts that makes us aspire only to be more. Though you are gone, you remain with us still, in our hearts and minds, as ideals to pursue. You have become more than a man now Benkay. You have become eternal.

I will miss you Benkay. Thank God he brought me across your path.

Gbenga Onalaja
August, 2014