When cometh another Felix?–Tribute to a bosom friend

When cometh another Felix?–Tribute to a bosom friend

“When I am gone, release me, let me go.
I have so many things to see and do,
You mustn’t tie yourself to me with too many tears,
But be thankful we had so many good years.

I gave you my love, and you can only guess
How much you’ve given me in happiness.
I thank you for the love that you have shown,
But now it is time I travelled on alone.

So grieve for me a while, if grieve you must,
Then let your grief be comforted by trust.
It is only for a while we must part,
So treasure the memories within your heart.

I won’t be far away for life goes on.
And if you need me, call and I will come.

Though you can’t see or touch me, I will be near.
And if you listen with your heart, you’ll hear,
All my love around you soft and clear.

And then, when you come this way alone,
I’ll greet you with a smile and a ‘Welcome Home.’ ”

― Robert Bryndza 

I am heartbroken by the loss of my bosom friend which occurred about five weeks ago. I am, however, honoured to have the opportunity to reflect on his life today.

Indeed, readers, it is very important that we acknowledge and fully experience the emotions of this moment, on which I have earmarked to say goodbye to Felix Ameni Annoh-Quarshie, my companion, my soul mate and my confidant.

It is fascinating to note that my good friend Felix might have foreseen his call to eternity before it actually occurred. As a Realist and a mystic man, I believe so, because of what my friend and brother said to me about three-quarters of a year ago.

Uncharacteristic of him, Felix stormed my office unannounced early this year with the intention of coming to congratulate me on my elevation to the position of the Editor of The Spectator last November. I recalled, vividly, something intriguing happened when he entered my new office, and I now comprehend why he did so.

At the time, I was writing a tribute of a senior colleague journalist who had passed on the eve of Christmas day, last year. Strangely, Felix walked straight to where I was sitting, ignoring my beckoning to him to sit, and corked his sharp-looking eyes at the screen of my desktop computer for a brief period.

Unexpected of him, he quietly but emotionally said: “Kwapay (as l am affectionately called), if I go (die) before you go, please, write the same intro for me in your tribute, ‘wati’.” “Why?” I asked. “Because, the poem you used as the intro for your colleague is very insightful, very discerning and very deep,” he replied with a baritone voice. I swiftly retorted, “You’re not going to die anytime soon, bro.” But, he insisted, and I gave him a weak nod.

As if by design, today, Felix’s body lies motionless at a funeral home at Haatso in Accra, awaiting burial at the Madina Cemetery next Saturday.

Felix came into my life about 45 years ago, and the first day we met, in Accra, instantly, we realised it was going to be a long journey of intimate friendship. Little wonder, we found ourselves living as neighbours at Madina a few years later. It was semi-detached apartments belonging to his mother. My parents had moved in from Burma Camp; he had relocated from a bungalow situated near Sankara Circle, where his father and stepmother, both senior police officers, and his siblings resided. Sincerely, I didn’t know it was his family property until the day he moved in to join his mother, a retired staff of the University of Ghana, Legon.

Hence, our friendship gained roots, very solid and firm to the extent that we were even sharing the same room. I nicknamed him ‘Adjei Koti’, because his Sankara-based parents were police officers; he nicknamed me ‘Kwapay’, claiming it was another name for Kwabena (we were both born on Tuesday), which I doubted, though, but accepted it to satisfy him.

Young Felix was a staff of Barclays Bank (now Absa Bank); I was a pupil teacher at Labone Preparatory School at Madina, but later enrolled at the Ghana Institute of Journalism in Accra, and passed out successfully to become a Sports Writer for Ghanaian Times. Felix introduced me to the driver of their staff bus that I was his younger brother, so he permitted me to board the bus to Sankara Circle and continued from there to New Times Corporation, near Kwame Nkrumah Circle, where I work to date.

He was not a church fan, but I managed to convince him to join me to my church, Queen of Peace Catholic Parish at Madina Old Road every Sunday for first Mass. In spite of our busy schedule, we joined one of the Madina football teams, Islamic Stars and played in the Legon-Madina Football League at the third division level. He played centre back, because he was over six feet; I played right/left half back. The blend was fluid, and it was marvellous to watch us play.

As our friendship kept growing, it suffered a setback. I vividly recollect it was a rainy Saturday evening when my parents called us to announce their decision to relocate with me to an area near Ritz Junction, on the border between Madina and Adenta. The tears that flowed from our eyes upon receiving the ‘bad’ news was so infectious that, it even compelled my mother to shed tears also

It was a tragic time for Felix and I. So this friendship, the most important things we have had in our lives, was going to crash? The invaluable love and support we got from our friendship was about to collapse? These were the questions that popped up in our minds, and it was conspicuously reflected on our sad faces as we tried to cope with the news.

However, we had the belief that, it had been ordained by the oracle, that our friendship was never to be put apart, it could only happen temporarily, but not for long. The D-day finally came, and I left with my parents for our new place.

Incredibly, a few weeks after our relocation, Felix relocated also to our area, about two minutes walk away from where we lived. Initially, my parents and I thought Felix was only joking, when he broke the news to us. But it was not an ‘April Fool’ statement he made.

Apparently, he had moved into his father’s new house, ahead of the rest of the family. We hugged each other immediately after the good news broke, and tears of joy flowed, reinforcing the bond of friendship that existed between the two of us

My narration cannot be complete, if I fail to recount how Felix decided to spend the rest of his life with Hetty, his dear wife. It all started when he was transferred to their Kotoka International Airport (KIA) branch. Hetty was a staff of M&J Travel and Tour at their KIA office. I joined Felix at the airport every working day, so we returned home together, because he worked late into the night. He worked until the last flight of the night arrived before he closed.

One evening, he expressed his intention of proposing to Hetty, if only I gave the green light. We agreed I scrutinise only her ‘vital statistics’ and give my findings and recommendation, because he knew her character already.

Apparently, he knew her, because she was a school mate of his younger sister, Jemima. According to Felix, Hetty used to pay Jemima a visit at their Sankara residence, and got to know that she was a serious ‘Chrife’ just as his sister. So, the only confirmation he needed from me was whether her ‘vital statistics’ were standard. As an experienced examiner, I inspected thoroughly, and she got full marks. Highly motivated by the recommendation, Felix expressed interest in her which she agreed. They started a serious romantic relationship before Felix took her to the altar. Their marriage was blessed with two beautiful children, Felix Jnr and Janice.

Felix was an introvert but easy-going. I am extrovert and easy-going, too. He hardly shared his secrets with friends or family members, except me.

Certainly, it is very devastating when you lose a friend, who is so close to you, to death, the inevitable. The pain of losing Felix, a man so important and special to me, cannot be overstated. Indeed, death has unfairly torn us from our lives. But I would find some relief in the fact that others have gone through a similar bereavement, and have felt the same emotions I am experiencing at the moment. Maybe, that should inspire me to feel less alone.

As Robert Southey, a poet laureate, said: “The loss of a friend is like that of a limb; time may heal the anguish of the wound, but the loss cannot be repaired.”

So, rest in perfect peace, Felix, and may the Almighty God keep you in His bosom until the last days of resurrection when we shall meet again. Amen.

By Emmanuel Amponsah

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