It comes as a shock, unexpected, gaining ears In a rapid fashion similar to the news of child-birth, only more ambitious and flanked by pallbearers.
The news of his death made may spend a lot of time in my head. You see, I was thinking of this world: the laughter of children; camaraderie of loved ones; the breathtaking sites of the donations of nature: waterfalls, wavy spread of water across great expanses, mountains swollen from the earth like the humps of Camels adorned with vegetation or snow, the beautiful flowers, trees, and the attendant smells occasioned by the seasons, the magnificent animals; human inventions: the feel of a Mercedes, the view of a city from an airplane, the internet, a lovely warm home, and how most never get to say good-bye.
It’s a paradox how the news of his death made me more alive, not that I was happy he was dead. How could I be. But it made me realise what we take for granted. How we blend in with the monotony of our daily routines; our newspaper print life. It was like I had awoken from a coma where I saw the world in black and white. Things I usually take for granted assumed poetic beauty. Even a puddle seemed lofty to my soul. Water had the sparkle of diamond. You see,I was thinking of how I wasn’t thinking of death until I heard of his death.
I was alive but I wasn’t thinking I was alive. Not that I didn’t know I was alive but rather I didn’t take note I was alive. I would say I was on autopilot. My routine, patterns and habits all merged to put the subconscious in the seat of the conscious. It went like this: Wake up from bed almost the same time. Turn off the alarm. Walk into the bathroom rubbing my eyes. Brush my teeth. Shower. Come out of the bathroom, towel on the waist. Pick out a suit and tie. dress up. In the kitchen I bring out the mio-moi and warm it or rush a bowl of cereal.Then I head for work, with the radio on beat 99.9( the same radio every time). At lunch time, I eat at the canteen (mostly rice). Go back to my desk, work till 5pm or there about. Back in the car, heading home, the same radio station. I stop at Lady P to get plantain and chicken, then I get moi-moi for tomorrow. The next day wake up and repeat till the weekend where I go out to the bar and drink beer, watching the match or something like that.
So it was, till I got a call In the middle of the night, from my cousin, who cried, struggled and finally said “h-h-he he-e he is dead he is dead he is dead Terna is dead,” that I paused from the monotony of daily living and asked myself what the heck was going on? What exactly did life stand for? You said you had a purpose? Ok, you could begin the process of attaining your purpose and die. Just like that dead. Small letter d. Because the world won’t even pause because you died. Your loved ones would miss you of course but the world would move on like a tree growing after a leaf has fallen. The earth eventually was going to be eaten by the sun, and all the purpose driven civilisations and everything it created, all the inventions and legacies of the world, would crumple. That is why religion was sought after, it gave you a faith filled purpose, so that one wouldn’t run mad thinking about Nihilism or Existentialism or Absurdism. It was absurd thinking of all these. That was why I decided to be grateful for being put on the earth to experience the beauty of nature, and on some days the inspiration of man’s kind act to man.
In the middle of it all, how he died kept recurring in my head: Headlight flashing the asphalt at night, there’s movement up ahead.He slows down for a group of armed men thinking they were policemen. Only to discover they were thieves, a little too late. Steps on the pedal, the car lurched, they react by spraying the now speeding vehicle. Losing blood, the asphalt is foggy, hands keep slipping off the steering wheel. With him speeding, unconscious, the car runs into a tree.
We are gathered in his family house to mourn him. I haven’t been here in a long while. Last time I was here, we rendezvoused to go for his traditional marriage. It seemed like only yesterday. Who would have thought, he would go away, the way he did, and we would be gathered here, mourning him, this year. Family, friends, and well-wishers all gathered to bid him farewell. I still can’t believe it. When I look at his picture I see promise. I see someone who would have made a difference. His loud laughter comes into my mind, the way he laughed made you laugh. He was contagious with his energy. It’s hard to look at this picture with him smiling without wishing he was here; I Can’t help but wish those thick eyebrows would have gone grey with age. I look around, I see sad faces that hold expressions of loss In slowly blinking eyes, black appareled. I’m wearing black myself. People are silently crying at different corners of the living room. That silent sob that tells of resigned acceptance. What can we do but move on with life? Rain is pelting the roof and windows. The ambience is sombre. You can see the raindrops sliding down the window. It almost feels as if it’s the same rain sliding down the cheek of mourners. The rain is symbolic; even the earth feels our pain it says. Tomorrow we put him in the earth. His coffin is laid out in the living room. Brown, with a white interior. Deadman in the living room – I would have enjoyed that pun, but not today. I have not gone to look in the coffin, I don’t want to. From where I’m seated I can see his inanimate body, but not the dead face. I want the last image of his face In my memory, to be this smiling face of his in the picture in my hand.
Rest in Peace beloved.