The Camera also Speaks

The camera panned the scene of human sorrow. The coffin lay at the centre of the tragic scene, its occupant a piece of humanity, a symbol of one of us gathered there to witness the early departure of a young man plucked by death in his prime.

Those who killed him had also come to bury him. They were among the most committed mourners, close friends of the deceased. The deceased saw them and cried with bitter regret why he kept such fiends as friends while alive. The friends stared at the still casket and were satisfied. The one friend who made them uncomfortable and inadequate. The one who made their eyes ‘bloody green’ with envy and jealousy. The one whose life challenged them and they could not meet the challenge, was gone.

The preacher shook with tears while trying to philosophise on the senseless demise of Surveyor Ethan Don John, trying to give it meaning, wash it off its absurdity. How do you say it except through tears that a young man of thirty five, educated abroad on foreign scholarships, a first class graduate at Yale, a distinction at Oxford for his Masters, a rapidly rising employee of the Federal Ministry of Works, Abuja, now lying still in the midst of a converged crowd at Government Primary School, Ediene Abak. Why should such things happen in the world?


They were the ones who set the trap for me and waited in ambush for me to fall in. When I escaped, I ran to tell them how I was saved by my God. They rejoiced with me and planned a bigger trap.

It was a cold, cold evening in June. The year was 2098. The rain had reigned on the earth for several hours, and when it finally abated, the world had begun to suffer from excruciating cold. I kissed my wife and left the house and drove to Swings Foods and Bar at Akpabio Street, Uyo, where my friends, Edet, Edem and Ekan were waiting. The mistake I made was not informing my wife of where I was going or who I was meeting.

The drinks flowed amidst laughter and jokes from my three friends. We talked of old times – our days in secondary school and they hung on how a little poor me had been transformed by providence into an accomplished young man.

‘He has always been the brilliant one,’ said Edet glancing at my head as if to confirm that I was really intelligent.

‘And lucky too,’ chipped in Edem, eyeing his glass of beer. ‘Everything that has happened to Ethan shows that he is a man of luck.’

‘I agree with you, Edem Black,’ concurred Ekan in-between chewing his roast chicken and sipping the beer. ‘Otherwise how do you explain how he was able to get help to register his WASSCE that year just a day to the close of registration?’

‘I give glory to God for seeing us through our education,’ was all I could say. ‘God has been kind to us.’

‘Not so much to us as He has been kind to you. Or has any of us been able to further our studies abroad?’ queried Edem.

‘And look at me, I am just a secondary school teacher earning peanuts when you are swimming in money in Abuja?’ Edet said in a tone laden with melancholy.


The comparison went on in a jocular manner; Ethan had a car but his childhood friends did not. Ethan married a senator’s daughter and his wedding was the envy of the town. Edet had an obscure wedding while Ekan and Edem impregnated some girls and were forced to live with them. Someone had once warned Ethan about these old-time friends, but Ethan did not want to appear proud nor bear being thought of as the person who abandoned his friends because he was lucky to occupy a higher social class.

 ‘We should all remain grateful to God and hope that He will change our circumstances in no distant time,’ advised Ethan. ‘We should also set goals and have a clear path of where we are going in life. That’s how things work. No matter where you are at the moment, you can always aim for the top.’

Ethan’s friends seemed offended by the Godly advice but they outwardly concurred with him. Just then, Ethan asked his friends to watch his drink as he needed to use the bathroom. Immediately Ethan disappeared from sight, his friends swung into action. Edet produced a weird liquid that he introduced into Ethan’s drink.

When Ethan returned to the table, he said jokingly that he did not trust his friends; that he suspected the friends and that they should taste his drink before he could continue drinking. The three friends exchanged odd looks.

‘E don reach lik dis Ethan? You no trust us again? We your friends?’ queried Edem.

‘No mind am. Im think say we dey jealous am,‘ Edet rejoined.

‘Anyways, make we drink the drink make im dey satisfy,’ Edem said making an odd face to the others who nodded with understanding. Then he added, ‘Eyen Ifot’. And the others laughed. To them, Ethan had always been the strange one.

The three friends of Ethan took turn to sip Ethan’s drink. Ethan smiled and gulped down whatever remained in the tumbler and the bottle. The heat of the drink in his stomach reassured him of the loyalty and trust he had in his childhood friends. At that point, it appeared the warning from the stranger was wrong.

Somewhere close by, a camera hidden in the walls of the restaurant blinked in utter shock and muted alarm.


When Edem got home, he reached into the secret drawer in the desk in his bedroom and brought out a dark bottle and drank from its content. The poison they drank at the bar would take an hour from that time to act without an antidote. But he was happy he had an antidote.

When Edet got home, he quickly went to his cupboard in the bedroom and reached for a dark bottle. He took a long mouthful and sighed in relief. The content from the bottle would save him from the poison in Ethan’s drink. He ate his wife’s dinner, went to bed and slept soundly.

When Ekan got to his house, he removed his dark bottle from the recesses of his travel luggage and took a desperate drought. He felt life returning to his soul. He could then eat and go in for the night.

When Ethan got home, he slumped on his wife in the bed and slept off and would never wake up again. At his hour of death after the poison had worked its work, Ethan woke with a string of coughs and clutched his throat. He coughed out blood and other inexplicable substances and died later in the hospital. The poison was untraceable and so the doctors did not suspect much after the autopsy, while Edna, Ethan’s wife, blamed the village people for her dear husband’s untimely demise.

But the camera of the cosmos knew that Ethan only drank; he didn’t have the antidote.


At the peak of the pastor’s homily, the crowd at Ethan’s funeral could not control their emotions as tears and wails flowed freely. The pastor began to rain curses on the murderers of Brother Ethan until his three friends stopped crying and stared at one another with the proverbial odd look.

A police detective was filming the funeral undercover. His camera froze at the angle where the three friends stopped crying and stared at one another. This was where the investigation into Ethan’s death would start. But for the moment, Inspector Etok Esin cried along with the crowd. . .

Prayer Point: Oh Lord! Save me from false friends in Jesus’ name. Amen!

Disclaimer: This story is fiction; all the characters and places should be so considered.

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