When someone dies, even thousands of miles away, the news entombs the space you’re in until the closed buds begin to bloom again. It’s gratifying to behold the power of how words can shift the temperament with swift authority, as your stunned state tries to recall what the previous hours were like before the phone rang.
For my parents, it was the lazy thrust into the early part of the day, after I departed for the library to try to rally enough words to express what I wasn’t feeling.
Maybe we are clairvoyants at the basic core of our being.
Family ties can’t be severed, and while we flourish apart, until that sweet day of reunion, the hovering punishment that slaps life into us at birth, quietly threatens the passing years with measured steps — until it arrives at its destination.
The companion of screen, keyboard and coffee did nothing to assuage the restlessness of the mind, and keeping focused turned out to be the ritual I couldn’t muster. I wondered if it was my fixation on the Twitter feed that was advancing deeper into the molted abyss, as debris from the ongoing battle that began with moderate momentum — was now an escalated fight for survival on all sides.
You can stare at nothingness for hours, and yet travel primitive areas of the globe with a loving trekker, who shows up only when you can’t produce the words that keep you from backsliding into thoughtlessness.
And so when you’ve spent enough hours expending the kind of energy that never requires refill, it’s never a surprise to resign in personal defeat and head back to where it all began.
The place that feels like a tomb, with chilled out chambers that enrapture your steps when you enter with renewed energy and interrupt the slumped figures in your midst.
You ask the question that has been half-answered as you surmise from the attempts to avoid eye contact, that what has happened is perhaps responsible for why your concentration was mysteriously arrested. Whatever it is cannot be reversed — no matter how hard we try to oppose the judgment that’s been levied.
My weary father breathlessly announced the final departure of his younger brother. He was the uncle with too much heart, who was before my very eyes exactly a decade ago.
You need to either sit or lie down when shocking news befalls you, and for those who can still stand upright, your fight for composure is enviable.
Suddenly the mind races with furious guilt, as the trip takes you around the familiar tracks and when the ride ends as quickly as it started, that’s when you take a detour and end up in the fold of the hours, days, weeks — leading up to the moment when everything changes — forever.
Death has a way of fucking up life perfectly.
It’s a symphonic attack that can be interpreted in whichever fashion that permits you to gracefully accept the unacceptable.
For the two people that gave me life, it’s God’s will.
Their heavenly father decides when and how we leave this earth, even if our exit could’ve been prevented if not for the lack of valuable resources in a country that was doomed to eat his young and old.
I’m more in awe of the audacity of our existence, and how we’re never in control, and yet we’re programmed to believe otherwise. The disturbance in the force earlier on, was the slight signal that the universe had swiped a blood relative, and that proof provides certain comfort. I don’t need the embrace of bible verses or the finesse of prayers to navigate the brutality of our imminent demise.
I’m starting to enjoy this section of living that persistently alerts us that life doesn’t belong to the living. It’s the dearly departed that are unfailingly alive in the hearts of those that are left behind, and in the prism of recorded activities that play on with fuzzy vision if the connection wasn’t as solid.
Monumental circumstances always prime you for the complex avenues, and lately my interludes are disarmingly retrospective, as I contemplate how decisions have a poignantly assertive effect on unsuspecting zygotes.
As the war of who belongs where and why hijacks platforms that were adequately designed to accommodate the flying bits of insults and body parts, I have to confess that I’ve died many times in my lifetime.
When representatives of the British Empire invaded the fortress of Igboland, my death occurred with each betrayal of religion and looted riches that paved the way to the great divide amongst tribes — that laid the foundation for the deathly climate of hostility and primal disorder.
When my parents decided to go back to the haunts of an ailing nation, with two young children in tow, their best intentions was another death that disrupted the routine of a nine-year-old American girl by tossing her into the churning basin of confusion and alienation.
She never completely registered as the member of a clan that took on various forms. And the fundamentals of assimilating into your homeland with the ease of pride and ownership avoided her grasp. She slipped into a guarded shield that propelled her best efforts until the finality of her tenure.
Leaving to return to the land of her birth was the ascension, with promise of reaping what used to feel so natural, but the staleness is palatable, and it takes some years to discard residue of the stench, by reassigning purpose of a rebirth.
The last death, helped to birth the shell that will be fashioned into the vessel that will be filled with wisdom that even his holiness will have to ask to receive.
Living is never quite discerning what you are and who you were, when you understood why you will never know more than what your death will reveal.
My religion is exploratory as well as performative, as I watch my father grapple with the immense loss of a brother, who passed away before they could make amends. When I hug him goodnight hours later, the stiffness is rewarding and comforting. Feeling too much means waiting until you explode.
My mother is soberingly erratic in behavior as the itch in her heart makes her yearn for what she can’t receive from a man that was once whole, but is now spread out in pieces.
As I sprawl out on the coolness of leather, the thought of how I will be classified when my heart stops beating, empowers the silence in what was once a tomb, and has now shifted into a burning inferno.
The confluence of summation properly enfolds me, as I plan my death with the precision of how I could never be defined, by native tongue or the language of a people, that I claimed as my own, despite the oceans of infamy that separated us.
So much pain from the assault of our ancestors as they died to secure our legacy, and yet, colonizers dumped the disease of dysfunction — that continues to accumulate desperate souls, while the system of the enslaved manifested into a more specialized operation — that arrests more souls than heaven can contain.
Will I die as the Igbo girl who can barely speak the words of her bloodline, and whose greatest sorrow was paying the price that took her away from those who shared her name?
Or will I wither away under the strain of being identified as something that resembles the pathway of triumph and defeat with the support of a birthright that feels a lot like home?
Either way, death fucks up life perfectly with stages of unconsciousness that makes being conscious the trick of all trades, that is watered down with age, and the invisible farewells to the ones who fade away after faint whispers.
The lashing of whips left welts of penance that robbed me of the full life — filled with the resources of wealth that were all mine before the invaders and owners of Black bodies descended on the mighty — and reduced perfect beings to rubble.
I died before the familial list of those entombed, and I will die again when extra space is created for the woman who passed out from the dream of peaceful resurrection.
When death calls, that’s when living commences, and dying will be perfectly destroyed.