Written by Okumu Kenneth

We are all going to die someday. This mortality state can be traced back to when the curse was meted upon us for being disrespectful. That is if the bible and various religious books are anything to go by. Death brings sorrow. But on this instance, despite the victim being young and full of life, it brought relief. The faces at the funeral told more of relief than sorrow.

The atmosphere wasn’t as somber as you’d expect at funerals. Even the voices that were humming the dirge didn’t do it quite with the usual shaky voices. There’s something about voices; you will not find anything easier in this world than being able to tell what the voices are feeling. And on this instance, I couldn’t decode anything. The mood that I was in, couldn’t allow me to anyway.

Word had it that the person lying inside the casket, who was about to be hoisted to glory, was a social misfit. A reject who had swam on the murky waters on his own. Such a person, according to society, should be treated with the disrespect they deserve. After all, we all reap the fruits of our own husbandry.

The grapevine making rounds told of a man who was like a reincarnation of the devil himself. A man who lived by the sword. I hear that if you live by the sword, you’ll die by it. The rumors were re-affirmed by a group of young men present at the funeral who, after the casket was lowered six-feet under, began displaying devil-like tendencies. They started taking selfies on top of the grave!

We, however, knew the truth. We knew what had transpired. They tried hiding it from us but they couldn’t. We knew that he’d been shot severally that night when things didn’t go according to plan. That it is the botched robbery attempt that had made him pay the ultimate price; death. The young man in question, who happened to have been younger than me, was my cousin.

I had met him when I’d decided to go taste life free from the scourges of its daily violence. I had decided for the very first time, to pay my cousins a visit. It is not absurd in the recent societal setup not to have met your cousins. The family we have and know of well, are the friends who got our back. We hardly know of those we share the same blood with. It is therefore not a surprise for lovebirds to find out, after having the low-key relationships that people normally have, that they’re actually related. What a tragedy!

He smelt of bad habits; alcohol and cigarettes. Not surprising that he acted and looked the part. He looked like he’d just come from taking a schooner of beer. I later learnt that he’d dropped out of high school. His reasons even more absurd that the dropping out itself. ‘’School is a waste of time.” His words, not mine. Had he known what lay in store, then he’d probably have taken back his words. It was too late now. In his lifeless state, taking back his words and our tears was way beyond his control. The only thing that we’d wished for him at that moment was God to give him a blissful afterlife.

We didn’t talk much. Something, up to date, I can’t seem to wrap my head around. Whenever I look to the heavens for whatever reasons, I think of him. I think of the things I could have said that perhaps, just perhaps, could have changed the trajectory of his life. It was too late now. The best I could have done was to let the tears flow.

So we buried him. What he left behind, at nineteen years old, was a wife only a few had known of until his untimely death, and a one-year old son. In addition, he left us, his family, in tears. While we were mourning the death of someone we held in our hearts dearly, despite his crooked ways, others were rejoicing in his demise, for obvious reasons.

We stood a few metres from his grave as the casket was being lowered, handkerchiefs crumpled in our hands. His friends had taken over this last part of the sendoff. They emptied the grave with sand using shovels. They were doing it without showing a whiff of emotion; with vigor that I had not seen before. It was as if it was something that they were used to. I reckon that’s the case.

And then something happened that caught the whole lot of us flat-footed. After they were done, they began taking selfies on top of the grave, in total disregard of what we felt. As if the pain of losing him wasn’t enough.

Yeah, that’s just about it. Life is what it is.

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