You have just closed your eyes in sleep — a different kind of sleep, and then you hear someone calling your name and you find yourself slowly slipping to the other side. But you are still hearing your loved ones, raising their voices to a feverish pitch. They are saying something that sounds like an unbroken string of mono syllabic words ; you recognize it as the tongues of angels, the tongues of mystery. This mysterious language is broken up by fierce , passionate singing and deafening clapping: “He has promised he will never fail”, the song goes , but you are going and they still continue praying and singing, singing and praying, voices hoarse, tears streaming down.
But then you go. It is final. You have gone.
The next day people begin writing on your wall on facebook . Hopefully your privacy status enables them leave a line or two. Some look for old pictures of you and put up on their own facebook wall and they say stuff about you. Just stuff.
Then hurriedly, your family amidst their mind numbing grief go about gathering your photos to send to the printer. For your funeral program. You didn’t have the time to pick out your photos, of course, so they pick out the nicest – in their own opinion. Someone thinks that the one where you wore your youth corper khaki looks nice, so they put it there.
People gather around and talk about you. They remember all sorts of things.
Someone remembers your kiss. She says you plundered her mouth. Someone says they owed you five thousand naira and you forgot to ask for it up until you died. They say it with a relieved sigh. Yet another says that all you cooked in school was beans. That you put dried fish in it, that they can still taste it in their mouth although school was four years ago. They say the most inane things. At least they say something. What if nothing was said?
Some others try to remember more profound things. Some say you had a fine mind, that you were intelligent , that you were ingenuous. It’s all kind of abstract , if you think of it, but you see they have to write on facebook. And so they marshall their thoughts, and try to shrink their perceptions into words. It proves very difficult and so they simply stop trying .
“What are they really thinking?”, you ask. Are they writing what they are thinking and thinking what they are writing? Nobody is answering you, of course. All they can do is write on facebook or in a condolence register.
You give up wondering. You simply cannot know their mind. At least not from where you are. Especially not from where you are.
So you try another angle. You say to yourself, “ I know what I did, who I was and I’ll tell it to myself.”
If you had been a one year old month old for example, you might think, “ I never forgot to smile when my mother left for work in the mornings. I’m sure that helped in brightening her day, and yes, I did remember to cry in moderation when she returned, because after such a hard day, I didn’t want her nerves frazzled!”
If you were a thirteen year old SS1 student, you would think “Well , I tried to help my friends understand lessons better, I didn’t go putting my hands up no girls skirt , I did try to give some of my milk to that poor guy whose parents couldn’t afford anything , and I think I was a good son to my parents.” I think.
If you were a twenty eight year old guy, you may think “Well, I was good to the ladies, treated them with respect and dignity, especially my fiancee, I was honest at work, didn’t try to take any money that wasn’t actually mine. I worked hard to help my mum and dad raise my siblings, and I never forgot to call home even when I was far. I tried to love God. It was hard but I tried. A part of you smirks, but you insist, I tried.
Then you say, “I touched the lives of my friends, I shared everything I had with them , I was loving and cheerful and gracious and forgiving.
If you were a twenty eight year old lady, you say “Ah I refused to degrade my body , or let anyone lay a claim on it because of money, and I didn’t judge my friends. I stayed away from those mind defilers: porn, vile music and trashy literature.
If you were a fourty-five year old woman, you would think “I sent my children to the best schools, was faithful to my husband, was dedicated at church, and yes was good to my staff.
If you were a seventy year old man, which you weren’t but if you were, you would think, I left an inheritance for my children’s children, gave generously to the poor. All that is supposed to make you feel better , but ironically it doesn’t.
Then you exhaust yourself. Enough of the self adulation!
It’s simply not working. You try another angle. You say, “I’ll just forget about trying to convince myself of my legacy or lack thereof”. I’ll leave it to him to tell, but I hope I made him glad”, though all the while you fight a creepy feeling of anxiety.
“Him” is the one you are meeting very shortly, by the way .
”He will be with you in a minute, please have a seat”, they say.
The seat is pure, brilliant gold.
He comes out shortly from his inner chambers and he looks like nothing you’ve ever seen before and grinning like he’s happy to see you, he says, “Welcome thou good and faithful servant!”
You want to pass out in relief, but then you remember that you’ve already passed — on!