Each time I remember my father, I grieve. I am not grieving because I love him that much. No. I am grieving because I didn’t get the chance to know him more before he left us in the cold hands of this world to be frustrated by its elements. Like God, like my Father.
He birthed many Children but chose to take care of some and left some in the cold to die of hunger and neglect. He housed some and left some under the cold weather.
This is the very way I have chosen to remember him. And my brother in his stern manner had told me severally that his teacher said to them in the classroom that one shouldn’t talk ill of the dead.
I looked at him and smiled because the world has made every dead man a saint. Unless you are dead, you are not a saint. Like my brother, I have chosen to swallow every pill of sadness hoping that someday I will be fine. However, that day hasn’t come. That day hasn’t come when I will be bold enough to tear myself into pieces and take every part of me to my mother to behold her son.
Perhaps she would understand that tears has the same meaning in every language and she would have no option but to answer every call I make in the middle of the night for her to come.
I remember every black Cloth I have asked God to help me unwear but he didn’t. Rather he keeps promising me of better days. There are some pains that caught me in the middle of nowhere, held me down and asked me to leave my body but I am not the one who created me and leaving means that I have to take permission from he who created me and gave me breath.
You see why it is not easy leaving. While alive, there are two owners of your life. One is he who created you and the other is you and before you could do anything to your body, you have to take permission from that person that created you and sometimes, while taking this permission, he would not grant you the go ahead. I have decided over time to stick to patience, enduring every spank of the pain, of the grief, of the understanding that life needs attention and the attention is what we thrive for.
Nevertheless, once conquered, you still have to pick up yourself and dust yourself and move on without saying a word to anyone else lest you’ll feel defeated and weak or abandoned. I promise myself always that I would be fine not in the morning but always in the evening whenever I sit by the side of my window and watch the moon beams with a smile so beautiful. This is how I appreciate life.
I have grown out of this body many times. Over the years, I have understood that I must die someday and friends and family would gather to sing and cry beside my coffin. Some would come with flowers while others would come with nothing but to come and see how I was laid to rest.
Some would come to see which clothes I wore. Some would come to see how beautiful my coffin is. Some would come to see how I look like in death. Ivara would come. Ifemeka would come. Uche would come. Ogbonnaya would come. Emeka would come. Nkechi would come. My children would all come. Ifunanya would come and Chibuzo would cry and flaunt herself on the ground for my sake.
She would look into my mother’s eyes and tell her how many times I bed her. She would open her legs to show my sister the symbols I gave her during our first time in my bed. I told her I wanted every man that open her legs to see those symbols. She looked on while I drew those symbols on her laps and then another on her thighs. After she have shown those symbols to my sister also, she would remove her clothes.
I know she would do that for me, for the culture. I know she would. She would tell my mother she’s doing that for me, for the love she had for me. My mother would smile and then, let out a shriek or a piercing scream and my sister would run to her. Ivara would ask Chibuzo to go inside for my mother’s sake and she would not go. She would not even move an inch from where she stand. She’s a darkness that repairs the light and the light that brings evil.
By noon, Desmond would have heard about my death. He would run to my house and ask people around if what he heard was right. He would lean his Bicycle by the wall of our house, get a seat and then, he would bring out his phone and wear his headphone and play Alan Walker— Faded or sing me to sleep. That was the songs he said he would play any day someone so special to him dies. He would sit by the pavement, picking the nectars of the flowers by the veranda. He would allow tears to fall from his eyes. When he would see Ukaegbu’s son, Omekagu, coming. He would stand up from his seat and run to him. Both of them would be locked in their embraces. He would look into Omekagu’s eyes and tell him everything he heard. From afar, they would watch Ivara dance. She would dance around the grave dug by the corner of the house, weeping. she would tear her clothes into pieces. Then, Omekagu would leave Desmond at that spot immediately he sighted Ivara and run to where she’s with a wrapper. He would cover her and take her inside and lock the door behind her. It would be like the mourning of an only son of the house. It will be like looking for the only palm fruit that got lost in the fire.
Then, there would be cameras everywhere. There would be books everywhere. There would be artistes everywhere and grief would be like a laughter echoing from the mouths of little children. I have witnessed a day like this in the other life of mine and I know how dying brings silence that builds the world of mystries and riddles into puzzles and games of hearts. I’ll not die now but after the break of the thousands lives of men who sweat under the impression of dying gradually but never die. After all grief is a way of telling God he is too weak to save us from the hands of death.
And by evening of the next day, everything must have died down and people would start going about their normal businesses. Every thing would become normal again. Different legs would pace around in their normal stride but my memories would linger on on faces of People who have the ability to see the dying Christ on the cross and the beauty there of. I am not sure how grieving would change people’s view about me or how grieving would tend to relate often with the abundance in the agony of losing someone so lovely and dear to your heart. Is grieving forgetting and remembering? Is grieving a process of getting yourself involved with the part of the world that seek to have humans mourn? How about stopping by and picking one thing at a time about life and forgetting that life has no joy?
Everytime I look into my body, I see scars. I see scars of disappointment. The scars of disapproval. The scars of a defeated soul. The scars of someone who was once betrayed. The scars of someone who was once violated. You see the reason why I avoid mirrors most times? I remember the pains that struck my soul when my brother fought his friend for bringing me to Lagos. That year was 2005 and it was September that I made that journey, a journey that would later change my life. The only song that could have changed how I felt leaving Aba was the songs of the bluebirds as they gathered on a Mango tree in our family compound in Aba but It never did. Earlier, my mother had warned me about trusting people. She said trusting someone could end up breaking me. But I have grown into a body that need not to be broken again because it has been broken into fragments already by sorrow and horror.
I have tasted almost all what life has to offer. Grief has made me grown twice my age. Pains have changed alot about me. While in toilet, I bleed. While walking, I bleed. While sitting, I bleed. I bleed almost all the time. I know I have been strong for too long, far too long. I avoided praying because prayers bring these pains closer to me. When I asked God to heal me, He looked on and on. He never answered. He said nothing, moved nothing, shook nothing. When I asked him where he was. He said nothing. He moved nothing. He removed nothing. He looked on and on. When I asked him why he created me. He said nothing. Moved nothing. Answered nothing. I have been brave enough to handle my pains inwardly and hope that I can sustain my vulnerability too. I have shared my agony with couple of drugs and ended up burning myself. I have profiled my weaknesses to suck away the strength in me. As a coping mechanism, i have visited the mortuaries to watch the solemn silence of the asylum and see what happens after we die. I have been trying to get back to myself but sorrow has a way of changing what time I should be safe or not.
Yet, I have gathered some experiences. The experiences of leaving and coming, the experiences of sleeping under the bridge. The experiences of watching someone being burnt in the streets of Aba. The experiences of hunger. The grief, the agony and the pains of having no father. The experiences of watching a boy like me been beheaded in the street because he became a breadwinner when he was not ripe enough to be. The experiences of sleeping under the impression that joy comes in the morning while you have to wait patiently for the night to go away with its sorrow. The experiences that someone would come and insert his manhood into you while you are asleep and when you wake up and feel something thrusting inside you. He would cover your mouth with his hand and whisper to your ears that you must keep quiet else he would make you suffer for everything you stand for. The experiences of a woman dragging you to her bed to take advantage of you. The experiences of having a boy older than you take you to a near by bush, pulls down your trouser and make you lie on the ground with your back against the sun. He would lower himself and insert his manhood into you. When you scream, he would not stop, he would go on and on and on pleasurably until you get used to the pain. Until the pain becomes you and you, the pain.You can’t tell anybody because nobody would believe you. What do you do? You shy away from it. Whenever he calls you, you must go to him like a puppy and enjoy the pain like always. I know how fashionable this kind of pain presents itself especially to the weak.
For instance, there is one thing about my family that you don’t know. Every one of them goes about their businesses all the time. So therefore, they don’t care much about how the craziest thing that happened to you in the middle of the night affects your well-being. How it has helped to shape you or destroy you. They are like the popular saying— all man for him self. Likewise, they take many things for granted. Moreso, they believe that there is no gain going after what you may end up not having because that is the spirit their father had while alive. In fact, that spirit has a house in my family compound. But then, I have learnt to manage everyone of them through their own mistakes. Like I once told my half brother that leaving his wife for five years in the mortuary was the worst thing he has ever done. One day, the children of that woman would grow up and fight him for not giving their mother the proper burial that she deserved. He looked at me and sighed dramatically. He said nothing that morning but at night he said to me with a cracked voice:
” You will not understand what it means to be a husband until you become a husband”
“There is nothing to understand, you are heartless for leaving your wife in the mortuary for 5 years without going there to check on her whether her body is still there or not” I told him.
He never replied me till today. That is one of those things that made them who they are.
Last night I called Mother, I told her I was ready for the Doctor’s knife. I told her I have to allow the Doctor’s knife to cut my belly open like she had advised me before. Perhaps the pain that would come after the vein has been cut off would prevent the other pains from coming after all. You see, I am tired of holding on. Don’t get me wrong. I mean every word I am saying here. I am tired of hiding myself in the closet to cry. I am tired of crying each time I used the toilet, tired of weeping each time I stand too long, tired of trying to adjust myself at every given period on a seat if I sit for too long on it. I am tired of tears. Lol. I didn’t tell her this to be pitied neither am I defeated in this race but I have to do the needful for my freedom. You know If pain was a kind of drug, I have taken overdose of it. I have grieved differently; In walking, dancing, eating, and most of my laughters are filled with sadness. I have danced after applying different kind of lotions made from herbs. There were those I never expected that I was going to wake up from. There were others I never thought I was going to walk again but I have endured and prayed for restoration but none came. I have endured the pains of a ninety years old man. I have endured the sorrow of a hundred years old man. I have waited patiently like a man in his early hundreds to be healed but none of these miracles came. Dear God, why do you keep quiet in my own case? Why have you decided to be this mute all this while? Is my life not worth it? Is living a way of staying aloof with pains? I have seen my ears with my eyes yet I have died severally through this grief and pains wandering in my body lustfully.
It is very easy for anybody to walk into a burial ceremony, open the coffin and slap the corpse but the difficult thing is the scenario that will manifest thereafter. I don’t think there are many things left to be said to this person who has done this kind of thing than telling him to go and bury himself immediately. Or to report himself immediately to a nearby police station if he eventually escape from the angers of the immediate family members and friends of this dead man. Right now, I am trying to make friends with people who would look at me and smile and tell me how beautiful I am leaving my grief and those who would not judge me for grieving. By this I can corner my braveness by holding tomorrow to my face or something close to my face and put hope in between my fears and worry.
Please, don’t look for me in some of my words or trying to understand me. In fact, it may seems to you like what I have spoken may not be what I planned to speak but time and chances happen to all of these things I say sometimes. I’m water; formless. I go now, I come back later. I kiss your lips, I hug you and leave my fragrances on your body perhaps that may be the only thing you will remember about me when I’m gone or before you remember, the fragrances are gone. We are all here like Soldiers, we come, we go and go again like the smoke and, never come again to anyone in particular but to our very self.
After all, we all saw Christ on the cross when he came to save us but we still don’t believe on the beauty of his grief on the cross years back. We have learnt that the beauty thereof is the mockery of the faith of an unknown salvation. How do you remember you are a human being with flesh, blood and spirit?
©John Chizoba Vincent
John Chizoba Vincent writes from Lagos where he resides. He is a music video Director, Cinematopher, Filmmaker, Book and video Reviewer. He can be reached through his twitter account @JcVincents or On Facebook John Chizoba Vincent.