Wednesday 24 February 2021


I Think of Dying Way Too Often

by Funmi Adenle


I think of dying way too often. Not a suicidal I’m tired of the motion kind of death, but the more natural I tried to run across the road and got hit or the I choked on a piece of fish bone kind of death. I think that my death, like most, will be fleeting yet elaborate. Like I’ll slump while waiting in line at the bank. The customer care agents would be rude, everyone would scoff at them and complain about the air conditioning, about the poor service, about their aching legs and I’ll stand there, with arms resting on the counter, waiting for death.

When I’m next in line, I’ll cough. Once, still heads. Twice, few moving heads. Thrice, more moving heads and on the fourth cough, when the air in my chest explodes and I kneel in collapse, I’ll have everyone’s attention. They’ll yell in many Jesus Christ’s and their bodies will imitate comic movements. The security guards will clear the already full encirclement. He’ll kneel and touch my pulse to confirm my death. Everyone will wait for his sorrowful head shake before yelling even more Jesus Christ’s, with hand above heads, light jumping’s enunciated by breast and ass and penis bouncing softly between bras and pants.

And when they would want to call a family, they would call my mom first because they wouldn’t know I have used my dad as my emergency contact for a reason. But they would call her anyway and the phone would ring and ring and ring but she’d be too busy clapping hands and marveling at other people’s problems to pick up. When they’d call my dad, he’d pick the call with a bark. There’ll be some miscommunications and he’ll yell a “You say? What’re you saying” and when he would finally understand what the call is about, he’ll stutter in “when? Where and how?” Because he likes to be scientific about things. There would be some devastation even I cannot picture, but it’ll be a loud kind of devastation that’ll rupture his precious mind and blur his vision. He might try to contain it. As expected of a man. Or he might scream in repeated “I dey come, na my daughter, she don die” as he races past the cold hospital floors.

My mother would be all the things my father is struggling to not be. She would yell a “ehn? Ki le so” with her hands on her head sealed with high bounces. She’d throw her weight on the floor, she’d scream in many Ya Allah’s and become a rolling and rolling piece of chopped wood. She’d be excessively loud.

My father would leave with my brother to sort the exhausting affairs of my dead body. I can’t picture what would happen with my brother and my sister. In truth, I don’t really care.

When I die, I’d like for it to matter to just two people. A girl I’m in love with and a boy I think I used to be in love with.

The girl, I don’t think she understands what I mean when I say I love her. I think she thinks I mean the “I love you baby” used in the political language of girl’s kind of love. I think she doesn’t know it’s a love I spend hours between a busy day contemplating over its gripping power. She doesn’t know I walk around smiling from the satisfaction that love brings me, she doesn’t understand that often, I think to myself that it doesn’t matter if I ever love a man as much as I love her, that sometimes, I’m scared of admitting its depth even to myself because of how unnatural and unprecedented it feels, to love another girl with that much abandon, to be all jesusy and “I love you regardless” about it.

Even now, I’m scared of admitting its depth to myself from fear that I might try to define it and it might end in self-imposed misconstruction even before I can explain to others.

I know that when I die, she’d roar in disbelief and mourn the many many dreams of mine others weren’t aware of. She’d talk about all the stories I was too scared to send to anyone but her, she’d tell them she was there, from the first day I wrote about disturbing things with crappy words to the much better ones with compact words and rhythmic lines and schemes. She’d be present in everything and she’d say nice things and mean them because that’s just who she is #loveandlight. 

And the boy that I used to love? I don’t think he’d show up anywhere. If he did, it’ll be for irony that’s in the literature of the gathering. He’d mock all the acquaintances who’d talk about how they’d just seen me the previous day “hale and hearty”, the ones who’d talk about how I’d supported their business and how I supported through tough times. The ones who’d say I was a good girl filled with smartness and inspirations.

He’d pfft! At them all, but I’m almost entirely sure he’ll not be present for the rounds of pretense, the failed attempts at exaggerating our friendship and the way they’d search for kind words to say.

I imagine that he’d be in a room with all the lights out, he’d fumble for the lighter like he usually does and he’d light up a smoke that makes puffs in the air in. His hands would grip the joint hard to be sure it’s real, his eyes would be set on the semen stained wall and his hands would rest on his laps. The girl he’s now in love with would kneel to spread her hands round his back. He’d hold them and tell about how he’d promised to call me and he hadn’t. He’d tell her about the time my mind disintegrated and he couldn’t understand it. He’d talk about the sweet poems I wrote him he pretended to understand. He’d say, more to himself than to her, that I used to like rings of smoke being puffed on my face, that I was always so hard on myself, that I didn’t eat or sleep well and that I could get myself to fit into many perspectives and somehow, still be myself.

He’d say to the dark, that when he really loved me, I treated him bad. Really bad, but he loved me still because he thought that was the kind of love he deserved and because he understood I was only a child of many tragic circumstances. He’d say it took him a while but when he finally learnt how to love me from afar, he couldn’t stop until I became a terribly fond memory. He’d say I was foolish in many ways but smart in the only ways that mattered. He’d say he could never afford to look at my limp body, now full of breasts and ass and fat.

At night, while he holds the girl he’s now in love with, he’d see the ghost of his dead mother. She’d be as she was the last time he’d seen her alive, lying on her bed with her back turned to him. He’d tug at her shoulder and she’d mumble a “fi mi silé, jé ki n sun” and he’d tug at her some more so she might not sleep and not wake up again. He’d tug and tug and tug and when she’d turn to face him, it’ll be me and I’d laugh hysterically.

I’d laugh and laugh and laugh and say “Dummy, you promised you’d call. Why didn’t you? Ehn?” He’d jolt to reality with a terrible migraine, light a joint and try to perform a séance by blowing warm heavy smoke into the air to send the impending madness away. 

I think of dying way too often.

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Funmi Adenle is a technical writer and fiction writer who resides in Lagos, Nigeria. She creates content for websites and blogs as a freelancer and currently interns as a creative writer at erpSOFTapp.