I intend to live forever, or die trying.
You probably didn’t know this: but if you are a great public figure, say a celebrity or a politician, journalists write about your death long before it happens. How cynical of us right? So imagine this, long before Mama Lucy died, someone had written about her death, then this son of a gun went through his files after he got news that she was dead with a smile on their face as if they had gotten a golden opportunity to unveil the winning card in a game of poker. To be fair, maybe this son of a bitch was hoping they would not die first, and maybe the smile was not for the death of Mama Lucy but the mere fact that they survived longer. I was not in the least affected by the death of Mama Lucy, Fidel Odinga and many other public figure. It was another one of those news making events or the death of a character in a soap opera. Not to say that I am inhuman, I just didn’t know these people. They were just unfarmiliar faces that graced my television set. For all I know, they could not be real. This is not to say I could not be touched by death.
I, of all people, am the worst when it comes to handling such situations. Death scares me. There I said it. Death, you scare the shit out of me. I never really know how to react to death and usually I put up this facade of “I got it together” when infact I am nothing more than a pile of mess that can’t hold. I have not attended many funerals in my life time and the few I have been unlucky to attend are clear evidence of how terrible I handle death. I was laughing at my grandma’s funeral, I laughed at my uncle’s and even when I lost a very close friend during the Garissa massacre, I managed a smile, I made jokes, acted as if nothing happened till I was alone. Usually I feel like I could have been able to do something about it but I didn’t. It always feels like it’s my fault. You do not know how many times I have thought of getting a gun and like a scene from an action movie avenge Sila Mutuku. I have thought of putting bullets in the skulls of the cock-sucking Alshabaab, usually over a drink alone in my room silently sitting and occasionally feeling the need to scream my lungs sore.
I remember I kept thinking on my way home after his burial, with my head leening on the window of the matatu watching the trees race to the opposite direction. For a long time I was oblivious of the other passengers. I dug through the heap of memories in my head. I ransacked my mind for the slightest shred of memory I ever had of him. Then deep in the heart of memories I encounter our first meeting. I was joining high-school . Sweating under the unbearable Makueni heat, my uniform smelling like some Mr Patel’s shop, a little confused about life having been left alone by parents who I thought were heartless. How could they leave me in a small oven of a town in the company of strange confused people like me? I was fifteen then and I still did not understand why I had to go to school so far from home. I did not understand why I needed to go to school at all and it is here that I met Sila. Somehow he was supposed to ease the confusion. Make me feel at home. Teach me the ropes and how to get around when your parents dump you in a God-forsaken battle front to fight your way out. He was my school dad. I was his problem to take care of and he did. Carried my stupid wooden box, yes, wooden box that looked like a casket. It always felt like our parents were unsure of our return, so they gave us caskets just incase we died trying to gain knowledge. He made my bed and for the next few weeks I was his business to deal with.
I was never assigned to him, he picked me. Probably because he looked at me and thought, “Oh,look at that black poor thing.” My lips dry and my eyes red because I was roasting underneath the shirt buttoned to the neck and the fact that God always turned the heater on full blast in Makueni. Then there was us in the subsequent years talking in the cubicles about girls and there was us meeting somewhere in town long after we had both cleared high-school, we were both in a rush, we could not find time to sit down for a bottle of soda or something stronger which he liked and then he was mercilessly murdered in cold blood. Goddammit!! Those were the few memories I had. Maybe I had thought there was time to make some more. There were still graduation parties, what about the bachelors party and the wedding after. Someone ended our friendship for us. At the burial I kept thinking, maybe this could have been his graduation. I was wishing it could have been his wedding or a baby shower, but Goddammit, it was freaking fucking death, always taking! Taking! Taking! Like being swallowed in the belly of a bottomless pit that it could never be enough. Death is a bitch. If I could make an offering to death I would let it swallow the fat leaders who have eaten of the spoils of corrupt dealings, lied to the masses and for the simple fact that my friend took a bullet that should have been lodged up their ass holes. Weeks after his burial I would write poems about how the Alshabaab could not get to him now, I wrote poems about death and recited them in my head. I rehearsed the most touching eulogy that was never read out loud but deep in my head and it’s during those times my face would leak, even when I smiled and salty water rolled down my cheeks and I could not control it. I was bulging with hate and pain, the pain was stuck in my throat, unmoving and it choked me. I would have looked God in the eye and gave him a piece of my mind, instead, I stopped believing. I reserved my belief for things I could see, I let the hate brew inside of me, I wanted to be consumed till I was completely submerged in the pain and I remember I had a very strong craving for a glass of whisky on the rocks to make everything as hazy as possible, lucid visions killed me in small portions. My mind would not stop thinking.
Then every time someone dies I cant help but put myself in the shoes of the dead. I live my death and it is never a fun affair even when you are the one dead. In my burial I hear the hypocritical eulogies by those that claimed to love me, I see them showering me with words of praise of how great I was. I listen to the echos of their meaningless empty words. I see the smile on the faces of those sons of bitches that owed, me play around like my death was the best thing that ever happened for them. Then there is that one friend giving my wife shoulders to lean on because he finally has the chance to not just bag a wife but also my hard earned money, which will probably not be much after I will have toured the world silly. Then there will be my best friend Steve sitting by the graveside, with a bottle of expensive whisky at hand, in a black suit a tie in his hand drinking in my honor, speaking out loud reminding the dead me, that can’t hear of the great times we had. Then he will take out his phone scrolling through the images of the times we had fun together and he will be like: “Remember when we used to dance ourselves silly, remember this night when you came home drunk as hell and you threw up all over the place, I cleaned you up and you did the same for me . Did you have to die now, did you grow tired of having my back? Remember my bachelors party? You were an animal that day and I am glad you took the events from that night to the grave, my wife knows nothing.” Then amidst sobs he will sip from the bottle of a 27 year-old Ladyburn long after everyone left. Then his wife will probably have to get him because it is raining and him, drunk and as stubborn as a mule won’t want to leave. Then they will watch him drink up and get rained on till he passes out. Even though no amount of whiskey however good could match up to great friendship and even though the rain could wash up the pain, the stubborn mule will have to go to hospital for pneumonia and follow me soon after because even death cannot get in the way of great friendship.
This is to great friendships, great whisky and to death.