I remember many years ago before my father died, it was one of the many father-son conversations that we had and trust me they were many. But the funniest was when I was about 9 years and he told me my wife must be 10 years younger than me. At that time it sounded good (because no one told me that very few girls want to marry men older than them with 10 years). Needless to say my friends had and still enjoy making fun of me when I tell them that. And no, I do not want to marry someone 10 years younger than me. It was in one of these conversations that my father abruptly said that when he dies, I shouldn’t cry. As far as I was concerned that was fine by me, because I was a man and men don’t cry, or so I thought.
I had envisioned that the most difficult part of the whole burial proceedings for me would be staring at the life-less corpse of my father. I remember walking into what used to be the sitting room but had been temporarily transformed for the burial. My mum was under one of my arms and I held my sister gently in the other. I had chosen the clothes my father wore but I had not knotted the tie and for the strangest reason my mind first went to the horribly knotted tie. I was pissed for the first few seconds I stood in that room. Then suddenly like clock work, my mind moved to the swollen corpse of my dad. He was almost unrecognisable yet he was recognizable at the same time.
Chichi, my sister had broken down in tears and my mum was speaking to his lifeless corpse, it would be one of her first and second to the last monologues with my father, the last being at his grave site. I couldn’t help but notice how my dad looked grayish, and how he his head and feat were at the edges of the coffin. It was like he was forced inside the coffin.
After this, I proceeded to one of the rooms in the house to compose myself, but I was followed by people. One woman impaticular kept talking and didn’t allow me think about what my eyes had just witnessed. She kept speaking about how other people have died and was prophesying 7 children into my life. I couldn’t help what wonder whether she was willing to pay the university fees of those seven children she was so eagerly agitating for.
It was during all these that I would be informed that I would read the biography during the burial. Luckily for me it was already prepared so I was saved from the emotional torment of concocting a biography. Also, I felt betrayed as I read it, as it just showed me that I really didn’t know as much as my father as I thought I did. Anyway that’s another story.
The burial proceedings fortunately for me were short and highly boring. It was done outside our village house under the protective coverings of canopies. My family and I sat at the veranda of the house facing the entire congregation of mourners and sympathizers. My sister and I kept exchanging jokes and quirky comments to keep from thinking about the fact that we were about to permanently put our father 6 feet below the rest of humanity.
After the close of the ceremony my aunt went round the house with the pastors to pray and and sprinkle anointing oil. As for me I wanted to eat and get out of there ASAP.
The most painful part,of everything for me was going through my Dad’s stuff. I had to remove all the expensive pens, and lapel pins from all his suit jackets and blazers, my mother and I went through all his documents looking for the immediate and potentially relevant documents. My Dad for the last few months of his life had made the village house his home. That too is another story. The car and all his books had to be properly secured. I couldn’t help but sob as I suddenly realized that the shoes and wristwatches I once sheepsily asked for would no longer be his. There was no Daddy to hug as I came back from school and no Daddy to call from school. I quickly realized that I could no longer tell stories of my Dad to my friends when we gist without contemplating whether I wanted to speak of him in the pat or present tense.