(Below is a short speech originally delivered on January 27, 2018, and it qualified me for the finals of an oratory contest. I hope it touches something in you.)
It was November 2015, a depressing period for me because I was at the Intensive Care Unit, University College Hospital, Ibadan — visiting, visiting… My beloved friend for many years, Michael, had been involved in a fatal road traffic accident. In those last days of his life, he lay lifeless on the bed, an oxygen mask stuck to his face, monitoring gadgets all over him. I saw the excruciating pain that shook his frail body at those times he was due for another dose of painkiller. They were things I’d never seen: the awful grimace, the restlessness, the muffled moans. I witnessed them, and my spirit sank. My spirit sank because my sorries and affectionate pats could not relieve his pains. My spirit sank because I could only look on, helpless, when he most needed help. And every day now, I miss him, and I wish I had cherished better the beautiful moments we had before he died.
In some ways, this reminds me of my girlfriend — more correctly, my ex-girlfriend, considering we’ve broken up now and that I am as single and lonely as is possible without being suicidal. But more seriously, what comes to my mind now is the memory of days I sat by her side at the cinema. She was easily captivated by the movies, laughing now and then at the witty conversations. And I? Well, I was always stealing glances at her, because I found her face more fascinating than the movies, because it made me happy to see her happy. Then a day came when she said I was taking her love for granted, and I flared up and said I deserved more. So we slowly grew apart, until we became loveless lovers. And every day now, I miss her, and I wish I had cherished better the beautiful moments we had.
Ladies and gentlemen, how many people in your lives have you taken for granted? How many times have you wished that you had cherished better certain beautiful moments? Who are those you now miss so terribly that you would perhaps give anything to have back? I miss Michael, my friend who is properly dead. I miss my ex-girlfriend, to whom, regretfully, I am emotionally dead. We should learn to always appreciate those who have remained relevant in our lives, those who continue to add colours to our existence. You and I should be sincerely thankful for the gift of friendship, of family, of love. Because at the end, only these things matter.