Death

Don’t wait till death, my friend.

Then I chewed on the battery. The liquid spewed easily. A sting. Liquid metal. A cold drenched feeling took over me as I pictured my entrails wailing in chemical unrest. My mother came in, saw my dirty hands and the broken remote…then she…

No. That’s not the story I want to tell you today. Let’s talk a bit about death. Given the abrupt circumstances with which she visits, I will be ..well… brief.

This is not the first time I am talking about death. And it might not be the last. Please eh, forgive my momentary morbid mental inflections.

Prince died. I didn’t enjoy his music. Many, many humans did.

Music lost Papa Wemba as well. Right on stage! I didn’t enjoy his music either. It is said he was an African icon.  I believe those two wonderful artists would be truly missed by those who knew, cared and loved them.

May their souls, and countless others who die each day, some as you read this, rest in peace.

Now, I have issues with these deaths- the media coverage AND the outlandish expression of sorrow/affection/ quasi-affectation that now seems to be omnipresent thanks to social media and the digital age.

Here’s my problem: forget the stars. Forget the icons. Forget the national heroes. Take “Joshua”. He’s your friend. You grew up together and went to school together. You dodged classes together. You were there when his heart first got broken and he was there the time you got drunk and made a fool out of yourself.

Fast forward 10 years. You’re both working. Joshua runs a fledgling startup. You have a very demanding job. You both have kids. You don’t see each other as often. Sometimes, you pick your phone and you just want to chat with your buddy.

Then you think to yourself: “Why should  I be the one to call? It’s not like I am the only one who should miss him!”

So, you never call. Joshua has the same mental soliloquy.

Then, one day, Joshua’s wife calls you. Joshua is no longer of this realm.

Your eyes well up with tears. You wish you’d called him. That you’d given him some money to bootstrap the company. That you’d offered him that old car you weren’t using so often.

You wish you were back in high school with Joshua.

Now, we both know where I am heading to with this.

Prince, the world will miss you. Same for you Daddy Wemba. But before you splurge my timeline with how much you will miss those who are gone ( I wonder why no one wrote about them this much when they were alive), take up your phone and call a “Joshua”.

Mom, Dad, sibling, friend, spouse, colleague, buddy.

Send him/her a tweet. Give ‘em a Skpe call. Send a snap.

Don’t wait till death, my friend.


P.S: I should take my own advice. I think this is the earnest reason why I write. I have so much to improve that the only way I can remind myself to do it, is to write about it. You may have noticed the “entrepreneurship” tinge here and there. I am working on a venture which requires a lot of guts and a lot of patience. The past months have NOT been peachy. But writing about these things gets a lot in perspective for me. It’s a sort of therapy because I still believe I need professional help. So far, I haven’t gone down the streets naked. So, we’re good.

Thanks for being here…Joshua. 🙂

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Three Ways I See Death

Almost everyone, has lost someone. A friend. A sibling. A parent. A lover. A neighbor.

Almost everyone.

Do you ever think of “death”? Not the action. Nor the importance it plays in the cycle of life. No. The concept.

Death.

Steve Jobs in his 2005 commencement speech said of death as being “Life’s most definite creation”. Or something like that.

The concept of death seems so far away. Especially for young people like me. I have never witnessed a child die. You might have. And I have heard of people younger than myself dying.

So, is anyone every truly too young to die?

Considering the fact that no one knows neither the place nor the time, shouldn’t we be actually embracing the concept of death? Or is it one of those “your thoughts have powers” sort of situations where you avoid to think about certain things because:

a) Karma is a …not very nice thing and
b) The Law of Attraction works?

The fact that you are reading this means that you and I are alive.

(Or maybe you are a ghost. If the latter is the case, then I guess I would still be able to update my blog when I die. Yay!)

What does death remind you of? I don’t think about death all the time. I have never been close to a near death situation and the last time I felt truly terrible for the death of a family member I had grown truly fond of was over 15 years ago.

So, you’re right. I am no expert on death. And you shouldn’t be reading this.

However, here is what death reminds me of:


A. Death is inevitable:

I know it is obvious. But I don’t think we pay attention to how truly obvious it is. This life will end. All you see will finish. Everyone you know will die. Sooner or later.

Take that in. Absorb it.

Now tell me, would you live a carefree life if you had this little voice at the back of your mind telling you: “Dude, it could be today. It could be now”? I won’t. I try not to.

The inevitability of death, in my opinion, should be the driving force behind every life changing venture. It should be the reason we don’t need an alarm clock. The reason we are polite to everyone we meet on our way and more importantly, the reason why we stay true and honest to ourselves.

B. It could be right now.
If you’re reading this, it means I was able to press publish.

Unexplained deaths are that way for a reason- the fact that a creator exists means there are things as humans, we can not understand. I believe He simplified a lot with reasons such as: cardiac arrests, brain aneurysms and other ‘salient’ causes of death.

Your heart could literally stop right now. Or your brain. Or a some vessel, somewhere.

The more I think of this, the more I understand why many of us can’t stand the thought of death.
How sad would it be to have these thoughts all day long? You might as well be dead! The design of death is indeed macabre.
Especially given the glorification of the process through literature ( Dorian Grey, Frankenstein, Vampire Diaries) and the blurring of the obvious (The Walking Dead, Evil Dead, iZombie, et al).

It seems the “global quartier” has succeeded in carefully packaging the afterlife into a commodity that can be consumed in 40 minute intervals. Or binged watched. Depending on your mental palate.

Sure, not everyone is fooled into thinking that zombies exist. But a seed well planted and carefully fed will surely grow. Even if it just ends up being a dwarf plant.

C. Death could be a source of joy:

When Princess Diana died, I had no idea who she was. I cried. When I lost my uncle in 2000, I felt terrible grief. When my classmate died in 2009, even though we weren’t particularly close, I did feel a painful loss.

First off, there is no way my pain will ever be equal to yours. It could either be more or less.

Second, my pain could be a source of joy. Keyword: empathy. Thinking that today could be your last day ( or whoever you are talking to) could be the only reason you need to be…you know…nice.

I miss my Uncle. And the only place I can see him is in pictures. So, now that I know that I could miss you too someday, I take my phone and I call you. I smile to you. I do well to be in good terms with you and for us to be, simply, happy.

I think grasping how futile our lives are with respect to the infinity of the universe and the incomprehensibility of creation should be the only reasons we have to do our best.

Right now.

Clearly, this is just an argument of perspective. This is the way I see it. And this is the reason why I don’t bear grudges. Of course, I get pissed.

All the time actually.

I am human. But rather than getting pissed for two months, and not talking to my friend, or siblings, I ask myself: if this were the last thing I would do, would I be this angry? Would I really feel this way?

For me, things become really clear when I put death in perspective. When I use it as a source of inspiration rather than fear. When I accept that this life will never be truly understood and that all I need to do I do what is in conformity with my soul.

This is why I suck at politics. And why I don’t pay attention to the news. Yes, James Altucher may have inflenced the latter but I take his arguments and fit to my context. Watch CRTV for a week and tell me if you get any value from watching “the news” or any other “content”.

Death cannot be explained. Each religion has its understanding of the concept. Each person has his/her perspective.

Thank you for reading mine.
I’d be very happy to read your perspective in the comments below. And if you think others could see death like I do, please share. Have a great week ahead.

All that matters, is what we do now.

The Boy and The Man

The boy sat quiet. In silent determination he crawled through the memory. He had lost his best friend. His father. It was a truth now as it was when he first heard three weeks earlier.

The mother had shed tears over the phone and his hand had trembled. Not enough to let the phone slip but enough to silent the ruckus in the hostel.

“What is it?” his neighbor had asked.

Maybe it was the look of loss or the aura of regret from words unaltered. The boy could not speak at the time. He was equally surprised when through his mouth the words slipped.

“My Dad’s gone.”

The kind words had played like a broken record, chanting empathy they would never feel.

It didn’t bother the boy that his neighbor felt bad.

He wasn’t worried about his phone either.

The boy was not ready to be a man.

He did not want to be a man.

He knew what it meant and had just heard a real man had left him.

Now the words etched the sad cave:

“I am not going to be here forever.”

The boy was going to be a man.

What choice did he have?

The last man had just exited.

Sooner or later, we all die.

Think about that

In the year 2000, my uncle died.  I was 10 years old and I did not (and still do not) know  what death all meant. I remember I was deeply unhappy and all I could do was join everyone around me in tears. He was my mother’s youngest brother. She still misses him. Once, we had watched a really frightful Nigerian movie and I was particularly scared of a character called ‘Andy’. My uncle would send me to ‘go get him something’ in the room, and when I had gone far enough, he would howl hoarsly: “Aaaaandyyyy’. I would scream  and come running towards him. I have some pictures with him. I don’t remember his voice anymore.                                                                                                                            I  remember he loved me very much.


 

My paternal grandfather spent his last days with us. Everyone says I look a lot like him. I have seen some of his picutes. I think it’s true. And, from all indications, we are a lot alike. My mum says we laugh and walk the same way. She found him pretty terryfing- that he always sounded as though he was scolding. That was his natural voice. I know because unless you know me personally, you would always think I am scolding at you. He was really tall too.
Just before he died, he wasn’t very well.  He was about 100  years old. My father took care of him. . He wasn’t very sane anymore. In his life, he had worked hard and taken care of many people. He was a very generous man. My father fed and bathe him. I watched them talk for hours and saw the father become the son of the son. I was about 12 or 13.  I did not know what that meant.
The first time I saw my father cry was when he died.
I now know what it meant.

My father’s older sister spent some time with us before she died. Her kids too lived with us for a while. The relationship wasn’t very smooth.  My mom really wanted everything to work out. Unfortunately ( or fortunately?) she’s just human. My aunt eventually  left after a while. My cousins and I don’t have childhood memories to share. I remember my aunt was very softhearted and that she loved her children very much.
I am sure they miss her. My father clearly does.

The second time I saw my father cry was when my mother’s father died. I don’t have much memories from my encounters with him. What marks me about his generation is that they worked really hard and they raised really great children. I know because ALL of my mother’s sisters and brothers reflect their respectful, humble and righteous upbringing. My mom still sleeps in her room when she goes to her father’s house. And, you can’t be a naughty kid around her.
During the last christmas vacation, my cousin from Germany said my granddad had once let him shave his head.
” I was really scared”, he said. My granddad had  smiled and told him  in pidgin:” No fear”.
Don’t be afraid. He trusted his kids and grandkids. And he loved them very much. From my mother’s upbringing, what I can certainly confirm is that he never spared the rod. He has no spoilt children.
I remember my father tearing up a little during the funeral. He quickly went away. Maybe he thought had not seen him.
My mom always talks about about my granddad. About his bicycle (Iron horse) and farm and how he worked on his cocoa farm everyday until he had a stroke that rendered him less mobile.
There’s a picture of him carrying my younger brother at home. This was after his stroke. My brother is pissed. He is crying and trying to run away. I guess he is scared of him.
I can see the pride and love in my grandfather’s eyes.

Last Friday, my father’s mother died. She had a heart attack. We were not very close but I bet she loved us very much. The night I received the news, I had a dream a friend of mine died. I don’t have premonitory powers( yet) but I know that was my subconscious coping with the news. My brother and I went to Kumba the next day. We met our parents at the park and sat for a while in the shade. They had been drinking for ‘refreshment’ purposes.  My brother and I took a drink too.
That was the third time I saw my father cry.

Three days ago, a 36 seater bus carrying students  from the Pan African Institute for Development, West Africa (PAIDWA) on a field trip  collided with private vehicle. 11 people died  on the spot.
8 of them were students.
My friend Brian lost his younger brother in that bus.
Casualties are currently at the Buea regional hospital. Two more people died today raising the  toll to 13.
I want to call my friend and tell him I am sorry for his loss.
I don’t know how I would feel if my younger brother died.

Fact: we will all die. So, what matters now is: how did we live?
Death sucks. Seriously. But, I think  death only sucks for the living. I cant’t picture my uncle and grandparents saying:
” Man…I wish I was alive…”. 
I don’t know anyway. I lost my ghost whisperer powers.
Steve Jobs summed it all:
“Almost everything, all external expectations, all pride ,all fear of embarrassment or failure,these things just fall away in the face of death leaving only what is truly important”.
What IS truly important?
I have no idea.
I know this post is pretty melancholic. I won’t exit with a smart sentence that makes you see death as a best friend. 
Death is not your best friend but whether you embrace the concept or not, it is coming. It is inevitable. No one is too young or too old to die.
Death WILL come. 
Be ready.

Remember

PS: Life is here too…don’t think about death and forget to live okay?