How We Love The Dead

Death, grave, tombstones

It is such a painful thing to be separated temporarily from loved ones by distance, time or something else. I remember when I was in a distant relationship. There is every hope we would meet each someday but the thought of being thousands of miles away from each other was heart-shattering. We would spend enormous time on the phone. A day was like a year. Now imagine when you have been separated from a loved one forever. The feeling is always like you are not going to survive it. The shock could make us lose our minds, but in most cases, we carry on. We eventually get over it. At the time of our loss, nothing else mattered except how to rewind the time and bring back to life our loved one.

The above got me thinking. I have observed some strange happening. Even the most hardened criminal among us turns a saint the moment his death is announced. I remember when a distant relation died. Mom, siblings and other people were crying themselves to stupor. I wasn’t moved. I can’t remember the last time I saw this man, that is if I have ever seen him before his death. My mom looked at me and yelled: “don’t you know he is your brother, you should cry that he is dead”. Well, I didn’t feel anything for him. His death is like the death of somebody unknown to me. I don’t know why I should cry that he is dead when I never knew him. I don’t even know any of his children. I think that would amount to hypocrisy if I should start crying because it is expected of me to cry even though I have no feeling in my heart that a loved one or family member is dead.

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The burial was arranged. They wanted to give him a befitting burial. He is regarded as a powerful man. They came up with a bill of two million (2,000,000.00) Naira for burial/funeral. This money is nowhere to be found. A lot of people made their contributions but it was nowhere close to what they have budgeted. This bill was trimmed down to arrive at this figure. The initial budget was way too high. They finally decided to dispose of a piece of land of theirs, this idea returned the budget to the initial budget of three million, five hundred thousand (3,500,000.00) Naira. After the burial/funeral, I came to realize that the two eldest sons are jobless. I was speechless. They have returned to their former ways of hopelessness but they have succeeded in impressing the public that their father was a powerful man. I said to myself, “Is this how we love the dead or just stupidity?” Why not sell the parcel of land and establish one of the sons.

I have come to realize that this happening is not just peculiar to my relations but it seems this is an African disease. We give to the dead what we would never give to the living. I once confronted an elderly person in the family to know why we cherish the dead more than the living, she told me it is a tradition, that we must respect the dead as they will never live to have our respect again. This response sounds the most stupid to me. The dead are dead, and will never appreciate whatever you do for it. The living will appreciate, or you will at least cut the world short of a jobless person.

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When shall we learn to understand that a dead man is dead and does not need all the pains you cause yourselves to bury him? The best thing we can do for the dead is to bury him, but going extra miles to borrow or dispose of our properties to paint a picture of the dead as a powerful and famous person is utter stupidity.

The Death We Dread

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