I remember the day I died clearly like it was just yesterday although it happened many years ago. It was on a sunny day in the month of October, I was on my way back from school; a young boy in his first year of secondary school when the enveloping mist of death darkened it my sun, trapping my world in darkness and silence.
I was just a street away from home when I saw that familiar welcoming sight of boli across the road. I had saved my break-time money earlier in school just so that I could buy my favourite snack of roasted plantain. With a watery mouth and no hesitation in my footsteps, I allowed the sweet smell wafting from Iya Kudi’s stall draw me to my death. I didn’t see it coming; no hint to the lurking danger in my path. A car came out of the bend on high speed and hit me. All I remember before the silence was that split second scream from Iya Kudi and then the sickening crunch of metal against flesh, my flesh. Death came swiftly and embraced me in a cold passionless. The sunny brightness of the day ceased to exist as darkness became lord.
Death came dark and fearful in appearance to announce to me that I belonged no more to the world of the living. It’s calm tone suggested that it was used to telling people of their death every day. I couldn’t believe my ears and I did not hesitate to yell my disbelief. Death smiled at me, a cold remorseless grin that showed the ugly fangs dripping maggot and slime. I shivered and lowered my eyes in fear as it took my hand and we soared across the skies together on a wingless flight. I was too scared to protest and I allowed myself to be led away like a lamb being led to the slaughter. The scene of the accident grew distant and the images of people wailing over my lifeless body soon vanished out of sight. I remember thinking how horrified mum would be to see my school uniform bloodied my body mauled by the raging metallic monster that had robbed me of my life. Mom would every night painstakingly wash my uniform while scolding me about how dirty and playful I was and despite the gravity of death being too heavy for my young mind, I knew I was not going to be seeing mum anytime soon. At least not while I was airborne with this monster.
We floated across our compound and I saw my little sister Anu playing with her friend Shade. I tried calling out to her but she didn’t seem to hear me. My screams were locked in my head and that was when I decided to ask where we were going. Death looked at me with its dark eyes that made one feel like he was staring into a bottomless pit and without its lips moving answered that we were on a journey that was never going to end. I didn’t understand this either and all I knew was that I wanted to go home. I don’t know for how long but suddenly the darkness faded and we were earth bound once again and the place looked familiar. It was the road leading to Atan Cemetery by Yaba. I recognized the road because I had passed there countless times to visit my brother at the University of Lagos. There was a little crowd standing over a grave and I recognized mum immediately. Her regal carriage was bent over with grief and her wails seemed to echo the sadness of the birds as they chirped nosily every time she let out a wail like a person in pain.
“Te mi ti baje, where do I start from? My poor baby! Bring back my baby? Where is my baby oh, omo mi da. Ina omo jomi.” I wanted to tell her I was right there but again she like Anu didnt hear my words. Anu was clinging to her and together they were sobbing while dad stood there in the frigid stance of a soldier with his face expressionless. Why were they all dressed in black and with so much sorrow in the air that it was palpable? There was too much grief and sadness over my not being there and I tried to wave at them that I was right there with them but nobody seemed to see me.
Then I saw the box. A small rectangular thing that seemed to have something of interest inside it. It was from this box that all the sadness was emanating as each person that went and peeked into it would shake their head, sigh in despair or let out a wail similar to that of mum’s. I saw Pastor Tade talking and then I faced my companion what was going on and he pointed its gnarled finger towards
“What is going on? Why are all these people so sad? Why haven’t you taken me to see Jesus yet? I want to see grandma? Please can I see what is inside the box that they are all looking at?” I felt a release then as Death signaled I go over to the box. I hurried to the open box and reeled back in shock as I came face to face with myself. There I was in my best Sunday suit, my eyes closed in sleep with my complexion slightly ashen.
Why couldn’t they just wake me up? Why were they all crying that I was asleep? The answer came from my dark companion who had also descended to stand by me, “That is because you are dead. I own you now.”
I cried out and fell on my knees, My cries mixed with those around me and when I felt that wasn’t enough, I turned around to look at the crying faces. Then I ran. I don’t know where the energy came from but I knew somehow that if I could get away from my dark companion, everything would be alright. I could feel it behind me but I wasn’t going to turn around; I was determined it wasn’t going to catch me again. I didn’t know where I was running to but I knew I could not let this darkness take over me again. I didn’t know where I was running to but I knew what I was running for, I was running for dear life.
I saw the hole looming in front of me and somehow one of the action movies I had watched came flashing back to me. That moment when Wolverine had jumped into a well before a bomb went off in one of the “X-Men” movies. I believed if I jumped into this hole too, I would be safe. Safe from harm. I tumbled into it headlong and felt the refreshing respite of water against my skin.
“Jesus you have wee-wee on yourself again!” The voice woke me up just and my little sister was standing above me with a grin on her face. “I will tell Mommy that you wee-wee on yourself,” with that she bounced away with her laughter ringing in my ears. I looked down at my soaked pajamas and I must say I had never heard a more welcomed sound than her laughter.
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