In the space of two months, I’ve lost an aunty, an uncle, a friend and a pastor that was known to me, to the cold hands of death.
You may have lost many others close or not close to you, but these recent losses have got me wondering about my own mortality.
Death is a debt we all must pay, but just like Woody Allen said “I’m not afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” and even though many “Believers” would love to go to heaven, none wants to die.
One of the attributes of death amongst the Igbo of Nigeria is “Ogbu Onye Ubosi Ndu Natoya” literally meaning “the one that kills when one’s enjoying life”, reminiscent of the story of that successful farmer in the Bible who after a bumper harvest said “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years. Take your ease, eat,drink, be merry”, but unfortunately his life was required of him the same night!
I don’t know if one could be prepared enough to die, and I mean those who are so old as to expect death at any time, or those on deathrow who are about to be executed (or lynched), or even the terminally ill person surrounded by family minutes before the plug is pulled or awaiting death naturally. We probably may need to ask the dead to get an answer to this, but from where I stand, it appears that save for those who pass on from a coma (and to some extent probably via sleep), the Grim Reaper appear to strike without notice.
Interestingly, I have also found what appears to be the Grim Reapers willingness to grant wishes sometimes, especially as regards violent exits. Reading through biographies of icons, legends, etc in various fields of endeavour I’ve noticed that many of them who had thoughts, wrote or sang about violent deaths, more often than bout left by such means. Names like Malcolm X, Tupac, Notorious BIG, Ernesto ‘Ché’ Guevara etc easily come to mind.
The Yoruba of Nigeria know this too well in discouraging their wards from making death wishes, thinking you might just have the Grim Reaper around more than willing to grant ones’ heart’s desire, seeming to agree with the maxim, “becareful what you wish for, you may just get it”.
I heard a tale of this Rich Merchant who had sent his servant to a market in the neighbouring village for some business when I was young. This servant soon returned panting, intimating his master of the presence of the Grim Reaper in the neighbouring village and making His way to their own village.
He begged his master to allow him escape to his own village which was uphill promising to return once the Grim Reaper had concluded His business in the village. The Merchant granted his servant the leave he sought.
Expectedly, the Grim Reaper turned up and was incidentally met by the Rich merchant, who generously entertained him. He soon inquired to know what business had brought him there, to which the GP responded that he was taking a break on his way uphill to take the life of a man who fit the description of the Merchant’s servant. You need to see the way many people seem to walk literally to their death to understand the truism of/in this story.
Another story I heard while I was younger was about how the Grim Reaper went about his business, and for every person he met to discharge his duty, each came up with a plausible reason why they shouldn’t be the one to go, until He decided that if he was to get any job done at all, he’d have to ignore the pleas and “reason” adduced by those willing to stay alive. You must also have heard say that “If Life Was A Thing That Money Could Buy, Then The Rich Will Live And The Poor Will Die!”
I don’t however know where to place the Grim Reaper with Suicides (and attempted suicides), but I guess proponents of Destiny will probably place it well in the realm that the other person beside the suicide is Mr. GP! The Rapper, 50cents aptly put the thinking of suicides and those with “death wishes” in perspective when he said, “Death Gotta Be Easy If Life Is Hard” in his “Many Men” track of his “Get Rich Or Die Trying” album.
Death will happen to us all. What happens in the hereafter is a matter of conjecture, since no one from the other side has come to intimate us of activities or events there. Many of us rely on what religion or faith teaches, others also believe in the views of philosophers and charlatans concerning the hereafter.
We must therefore live like we’ll die tomorrow but not without planning like we would live forever.
To The Faithfully Departed, Rest In Peace!