Friends Of The Dead
By Felly Oyuga
During my father’s funeral, the chief insisted on giving a short speech, but after he had had something to eat. So after eating, the chief came back to the gathering, tummy full and started his speech. He said that he was in school with my father. My aunt then asked, ‘’which school? Did you even go to school?’’ Now women on my father’s side have never been known to whisper. Well to be fair, it is not even possible because our voices are on the deep side. I wanted to high five my aunt. She said what we did not have the courage to say.
I have often wondered why people love you so much when you are dead or dying. You see it all the time, people on social media tagging people they barely know. Is it sympathy you want or is it some guilt you are trying to relieve yourself of or are you looking for attention?
You will be alive, struggling even, and no one will give you the time of day. Sometimes all you need is someone to talk to or a loaf of bread. My friend, you will be calling people and no one answers your calls – but just drop-down dead. Those very people will offer to buy your burial clothes, your coffin and offer up their prized bull to be slaughtered during your funeral. Everyone will be posting your pictures and crying for all and sundry to see.
I attended a very sad funeral sometime last year. Ok, all funerals are sad, then again maybe not. Most funerals are sad. This one was doubly sad because the person who died lived a very hard life, unnecessarily so in my opinion. Seeing the people who attended his funeral just reinforced the futility of his hard life. I did not know the person, I had accompanied a friend who was close to him. The dead man was a man of the cloth. A very educated man. Seemed like all he did was study and want to serve his God. He was not a young man. Sometime before his death, he had tried to raise funds for a car as he felt that would help him spread the gospel. From the turn out at his funeral, I wondered why that was so hard, if he knew these many people, if he was a friend to this crowd, if he was a shepherd of this flock, why did he struggle so much?
The hardest blow for me was when a senior member of the clergy got up. He introduced the other clergy members, all dressed in their white robes from far and wide. Some had flown in that morning, he bragged. Others had driven long distances to see off their brother. A few had even chosen to miss important events and seminars to be in that village that day, to give a fitting send-off to one of their own, he continued. He then started to talk of the last time he had spoken to their fallen member. The deceased had asked him for a job and he was working on something for him. Just two YEARS ago! I was now ready to throw my shoe.
I have always said that when I die, I will have little time to rest because I will be haunting people. I will definitely start with these people who love you when you are dead. I will sit on their shoulders and thoroughly harass them. So, if I were you, and we do not speak, vibe, hang out and do not like each other, no hard feelings while I am alive, do not make me work overtime when I am dead.
And so, speaker after speaker talked well of this dead man. Each one with one big title or another. The only thing they could do for that unfortunate soul was attend his funeral and introduce themselves. How sad it is that we wait for people to stop breathing to appreciate them, we wait for bodies to turn cold to want to be associated with them.
Let us do better.