When I die

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There are two things I fear courting- sickness and death. Sickness weakens and ages your soul. The soul gets torn and at that moment of sickness, I usually feel like a mango seed after every steak of its meat has been devoured. Sickness slows your steps to those of a toddler trying to walk on two for the first time, robs your appetite so that you have to be forced to eat by being fed like an infant, makes your stomach go south so that you keep regurgitating everywhere like a baby without diapers. A disease is like a ruckus foot on the gas pedal. A foot set on the gas pedal for the first time does not know when to go off until the car rums into a ditch.

I don’t fear death because I have tasted it and felt its rancid taste so that when I look at it I feel like it is something I should stay away from. Death is not like a fight between two young boys who are trying to measure who is stronger than the other. To understand the full meaning of death, someone close to you has to die, because if you die then you won’t know how lonely death is.

If someone close to you passes on, you finally get to meet death. It creates a gap so huge that you truly understand that it is death that has to do with it. Death brings some kind of loneliness that it reminds you of its very existence every time you look at the chair your mum used to sit on, or even her dresses, or the framed pictures hanging on the living room wall, with her best smile waving at your face. Only then will her absence tell you something- death is a foe.

That is the only way that you can appreciate the nakedness of death. To have a first experience by the death of someone close to you. Otherwise, you will never know how ugly death looks if you never lost someone close to you. You will never be angry at death, or you’ll never cry cursing it, if someone close to you hasn’t eaten the sack.

Hardly do people cry for the death of people they don’t know. They will just show up during the burial to register their presence, get back to their cozy palatial residences, throw legs on the table and watch a telly without a thought about the deceased. Some will just hit the pub, meet friends and booze the whole night. They go on with their lives. Only those who experienced the loss will know that death is nobody’s mother.

 

Death is inevitable. Meaning that one day I shall die. But before I do, here is a wish list on how I want things need to done.

I do not wish my corpse to be taken to a morgue for more than five days. Five days will make my beard grow bigger. I wouldn’t want any morgue attendant to touch my beard because he is not entitled to play around with me. I owe my loyalty to one barber. Should there be any need to shave, owing that this wish will have been flouted, kindly call for Tito to come and perform this ritual.

The reason I don’t wanna lie in a morgue is because all my entire life I have never seen inside of a morgue with my two eyes. Beyond the morgues that I see in movies, there is nothing connecting me to morgues. And anything I haven’t done or seen in real life wouldn’t add value to me when I am dead.

A dead man is of no use. That is why I wouldn’t want to be wrapped with white linen. I associate white with purity, something I have never been, leave alone any of us. To disguise me with a white linen is to lie to God and others that I had a pure heart. All I got is a warm heart, whatever it does in the darkness cannot in any way guarantee it a state of purity. Instead, wrap my body with my blanket so that I can keep on having those sweet dreams that kiss me in my sleep.

If I die today, do not decorate me with a suit and a tie. My life has seen so many suits, on clothe lines and in shops, for display. My fingers have run on their material and looked them up and down. My eyes have had enough of the ogling. They are done. I haven’t afforded a decent suit despite my father being able to buy me enough suits to last a lifetime. If I haven’t worn any in real life, I wouldn’t enjoy it during my lifeless span. But ensure I sleep with my shoes on because there are days I was sick that I never enjoyed feeling the inside of a shoe. I can have something to show God when He asks me what I thanked Him for. I can proudly say to Him, ‘look Your Highness, there are days I wouldn’t wear a shoe but now I can because you enabled me to.’

During my burial do not give a eulogy that edifies me. Praising a dead man does not help him fight his battle (death). Rather, say who I really was. Young, private, ambitious, bright, and touched people hearts with words and sometimes, deeds. Just say I was straight. That I tolerated no bullshit. That I messed here and there, and that I did not deserve glory at any point.

But remember my legacy. Tell the crowd seated in under those many tents that my father was proud of me, and that I was proud of him. Let them know that my love for family was unconditional. That I prayed for each family member to be better, that God who healed my leg could also heal their wounds and propel them to a life without limits. Tell them that I thought of them every night, and that I worked very hard so that one day I can fly them all over the world because I love them so much.

Tell my papa that he is the greatest man alive that I ever knew. Tell my siblings that without Papa everything would have gone wrong from the very first day when our mom slipped away.

During my burial, I do not want people to shed tears for me. They should not show sadness for me because I wouldn’t hear them or come out to comfort them. Tell them that may they cry to God, may they shed those tears when they are in deep prayers so that they can be better beings. Tell them to ask for healing and strength. The strength I found when others could not.

Let them whisper if they have to. The winds will carry their words away. Their stories will leave them, and good stories will remain in the hearts of those who won’t say anything. Inform them that my ears will listen, and they can say anything so that we can settle the scores before I get devoured by worms. May all those I have wronged find time to forgive me, and all those who would have wronged me to ask for forgiveness, I shall forgive.

Do not put me in an expensive coffin when I die. My death would not be important. The worms will eat it after all while there are poor kids crying of hunger in the neighbourhood who need food. They will want shelter and clothing and an education. May I be laid on a table covered with my blanket so that that money can be spent on bigger needs.

When I die, take one of my best photos from my pc and print it. Frame it only if it has my best smile and hang it in Elsie’s room. Whether she will be married or still in college let that will be done, so that when she looks up at it every morning she remembers who his dad was- wise and intelligent, loving and warm. So that she may never deflect or digress from the right path when temptations seduce her.

My house should become open to friends, family, enemies and even strangers. May it be a home for the homeless, a place where people find peace and love when all of that has been scrapped from the face of the earth. I want it to be a place where people gather to share meals, stories and roast maize in the evenings as they listen to folk tales. May it be a home where people come to collect blessings when they cannot find any. May its gates permeate happiness, hope and love. So that it can harbor all the treasures that the world provides in the cheapest means.

When I die I want my belongings to be handed down to my family. I believe they would better know how to handle them to bring joy to the world like I would. If the hungers of these world strike them and drive them to fight for that inheritance, may it be distributed out to the needy so that they can know what it feels like having a good life.

During my burial, you can chose to dig bury me or cremate me and throw the ash to the winds. I don’t wish people to cry for me even after this because I never was good at breaking people’s hearts. Let me be forgotten so that people can move on.

I am not saying you don’t not respect me in my final moments. But never do something that you wouldn’t do to me when I was alive. I wouldn’t notice kindness or gentleness. I want you people to be real with me because that is what makes reality different from pretense. Do not pretend during my funeral.

If at all there is one thing I want after I die, is people to leave my old man alone. I want him to have peace, joy and happiness during his old age. Ensure he leads his simple life because that is what brings him joy. Making him overjoyed will only age him faster. Ensure that he lacks nothing.

And I in my grave, will be happy.

Signed,

Mzangila Snr.

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About Mzangila

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

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