The Stories of The Dead

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I just turned 24 last week. I know many won’t believe this but it is true. Against all odds I added another year.  I can recall that it is just a few years I was 18 and fresh from high school, a young lad with a lot of ambitions and laser like focus which I guess waned somewhere on the way when I met laziness. I had dreams then, many dreams. As I grew up, I discovered that dreams were nothing without astounding effort to put action, feel the pain, endure the pain and emerge on the other side conquered, beaten flat or glorious and a victor.

I learnt that dreams were just dreams if they were unaccompanied with some passion, something that triggers your inner self to pursue them. They were useless if you looked at how hard they were or how scary their faces looked like. They were very ungrateful if at all you had wishes minus a plan to execute them and bear fruits. They were unprofitable if you gave up on them. They were ineffectual if you felt fear grip you every time you decided to work on them but again stopped before you could commence.

Those are the dreams we had, childhood dreams. Dreams that we held on our palms; to be a doctor, engineer, pilot, and other prestigious dreams we held just to impress ourselves and our immediate neighbours and friends. As we grew up, we discovered that it was really flustering to get the dreams into something substantive. It was harder to even achieve half of those dreams. We discovered that they were beyond us.

You came face to face with some more other dreams. These ones were a different kettle of fish. They were easier, and everybody else seemed to prosper at them. You let go being a pilot and joined a bandwagon slithering towards the teaching profession, we stopped working towards being a doctor and went for jua kali. It was the easy option, one which seemed available and achievable.

At 10 I was Pilot Justine. At 18 I was Poet Justine, an author in the making. I was honing my skills to be a renowned author. Last week I was many things. I did know where I was going because I had zero dreams. I was living like a savage. My life seemed seamless, not troubled at all and endearingly working on anything that can put food on the table. At 24 I got many stories, stories about the dreams I would have wanted to achieve if at all I was in a grisly interview full of stern, hawk-eyed interviewers. I would not fret; I would look down at my feet (my small feet with toes of a young woman), fiddle with my fingers and talk from morning to evening about those dreams without looking up. At the end I would cry, a little.

When I turned 24 I didn’t celebrate or make merry of any kind. A friend of mine, a fellow student and Health Director in my school had passed on. It would have been so gross if I went out emptying meals and drinks down my gullet, having fun while others were mourning. It is the lowest form of dignity that one can indulge in. so I had all my day indoors, alone. I had this kind of meditation that is not taught anywhere on this earth. I meditate with the TV on, earphones plugged onto my ears. I must be in shorts. Images help me to visualize, music helps me pick the rhythm. Once I am done, everything else becomes  abstract. I can concentrate on a single activity for as long as there is no one knocking on the door.

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They whole of Karatina University fraternity was in cries. The social media went crazy with flurry of photos of her on different occasions depending on what each comrade wanted to believe in. half of the school changed their whatsapp profile pictures and replaced them with the deceased. The craze engulfed everybody with condolence messages which overflowed on social media. It was a ‘euphemism’ of love. It showed that people really loved her, and that they had been hit by the loss of such a young woman with a future full of bright prospects.

I was among those who did not change their dp in her honour. I felt the loss. I mourned. I wept. And that was enough because after her burial on Saturday all that changed. People moved on with their lives so fast. The messages stopped flowing. The world that had been on a standstill with tales of her young life taken away so quickly not only waned but ended. People changed their dps and moved on to replace them with photos of them in drinking dens with long necked bottles lying lazily in front of them on tables. Others had photos of them smoking pot and sheesha, others were marching in weddings, others were driving, others were at KFC having burgers and chicken tikka masala, others were just there, unruffled. They were those with hard hearts. They have seen many petrifying things. They are no longer spooked by sad tales. Instead they have tales, they only choose to keep the cool.

This made me think a lot. I wondered if this is the kind of love they had for her. Was she good for a night stand that she would not have survived in people’s memories even for another day after burial? Was her that easy to forget? Is that the love people had for her. Did she mean that little to others?

Well, maybe no one owed her some rent so that they could repay by sticking her photos up on their walls. Maybe the effort they had contributed prior to her burial was enough. Maybe she should have been content with all that we did. She should have been satisfied with that. After all she is dead, right?

When death comes knocking, I guess after we are gone we become history. A corpse. Later bones and then forgotten. Not necessarily erased from our minds but out of our lives. We end.

She is gone. We have lost one being to the gods of death. Damn, these gods are breathing heavily nowadays. Soon she will rot and be a carcass, with remains of her skull and skeleton being the only evidence left behind to tell of her existence.

I always wonder if the dead have tales. If they were to wake up from those burrows, I think they would become the best preachers that would inspire people to refrain from sin and surrender their lives to God.

They would give us a clear picture of what the sepulcher looks like when it is covered.  They will tell of the feeling that encroaches you when witches tramples on the graves. They will uncover the feeling of lying pale in a casket. Maybe some of them, who went to heaven, will give us the heavenly experience. They will attest to us if it is true the place is really overflowing milk and honey. And how God’s face looks like.

Do the dead really tell stories?

In loving memory of Fancy Chepkwony.

-Photo Credit: ubyssey

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About Mzangila

Mentor, media consultant, photographer, editor, poet, writer, and counselor.

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