Nothing is as still as death

“Nothing is as still as death.” Those words flooded my mind as I laid down under the cover of both my duvet and darkness. My mum always scolded me for that “bad habit” as she called it. She'd say we are children of light and so should not stay in darkness. Seems she forgets that we are in Nigeria. Still, motionless, as though in a trance, I stared at the ceiling trying to make sense of things. It can't be true. He can't really be dead. I just saw him two days ago. There must have been a mistake…I refuse to believe this nonsense!!! I suddenly jumped off the bed as though possessed by some otherworldly force and stormed out of my hostel. Getting outside, I was greeted with songs of lamentation. The entire school was in mourning and I do mean everyone. From that wicked lecturer who promised to fail him in his course because he looked like “a hip-hop artist and not a student” to bullies who would gang up on him to beat him because their “babes” let it slip that they thought he was cute. I really do hate ironies. A portrait of my friend mounted on a moving vehicle like some war hero, smiling mischievously as though whispering “Got you sucker!!”. But this was real. As real as…well, this. Dami was asthmatic but he was never without his inhaler. NEVER! It was almost like an appendage. So, how could he be dead? My head hurt as I pondered deeply. How was I going to tell his mother? Where would I even start? Telling a single mother that her only pride and joy had “gone to dance in heaven with the angels?” Dami was no saint but who is? He was a good guy who cared about his friends...who cared about me. We were inseparable. Suffered together, flexed together but he died alone, and I was not even aware until I was told two days later. I had seen him two days before he died. I felt dizzy when I finally realized the awful fact: THE LAST DAY I SAW HIM WAS HIS LAST DAY ON EARTH. He was not killed, was not hit by some reckless driver. Apparently, he went to his room to sleep when he suddenly woke up screaming. His roommates thought he was mad. He screamed and screamed but no one took him seriously. Then he slumped back into bed, lifeless. What an anticlimactic death. He always bragged that he knew how he was going to die. “Go out in a blaze of glory” as he'd put it. He had some lofty wishes for how he wished to go out. Join the army, engage in a gun fight against terrorists and take out all of them only to be shot by their leader as he dies. What a load of Horse dung!! I felt betrayed. We had just graduated from that hellhole of a University. We had collected our certificates the day before “the day”. Everyone was so happy. We were done with the glorified secondary school disguised as a University. We had met after the ceremony and used our certificates to sword fight as we hugged each other and cried. Apparently, every year in the University, during convocation week, a student died. Some people said it was the work of evil spirits. Who could say? The university was built on a freaking mass burial ground. Maybe the spirits were vexed we were disturbing them with our attempts at getting an education. Maybe…it's not like I could call one and ask. Convocation went on without a hitch. No one had died. We were all shocked, but no one wanted to talk about it so we wouldn't jinx it. Maybe the deaths had finally stopped. Maybe the evil spirits had been appeased or maybe some firebrand prayer warrior had done battle with them and come out victorious, banishing them to the farthest reaches of the NetherRealm. We seemed to have a lot of them on campus; shouting and dancing in a frenzy as they “casted and bound all principalities and powers”. Like I said before, it's not like I could call one and ask. It all didn't matter anyways. Dami was dead. At the “ripe age of 20 years.” At least that was what the officiating minister said during his burial service. “Ripe age” my ass. He was anything but ripe. In fact, he hadn't even sprouted any leaf. He was still under the rich soil trying to germinate and he died there…underground. How convenient! I remember seeing him as he laid inside the wooden casket. You know how people say a dead body looks alive? Like its going to jump out and walk to a bar to get a quick drink? I couldn't relate. Not this time. Whomever did the embalmment must've wanted him to look like a mummy: totally unrecognizable. And he wasn't. He didn't even look peaceful…just dead. Well, in his defense, how else was he supposed to look like? Like a superstar? I smiled to myself as I walked home from the ceremony. I would never forget Dami; but we sometimes make promises we can't keep. I still remember him till now, but three (3) years isn't that long a time. I'll try again in 7 more years…then I'd see if I will still remember him. There's nothing as still as death…except the air around those left behind as they gaze upon what had been…who had been.

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Tiana Mar

Poet & Aspiring Author

Srebrenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina