Our failures make children sleep under the cold moon, inhaling earth’s unhallowed dust, and living each day with bruised feet and damaged minds. Our insincerity does not consume children alone. Fathers are taken away from their loved ones in the name of conflict and survival. Babies suckle breasts of starved mothers because they’ve come to rely on the husbands that are now disarmed of the resources and the power that ensured a roof for the ones they love or are responsible for, milk for those growing, and safety when dusk ushers in darkness. The politics of interest that breeds conflict and warfare pushes young ones to forests meant for adults. And when they get torn by foxes, we count their bodies, sigh at the normalization of pain, and move on.
But they forget. The men at the center of this forget:
ONE DAY YOU WILL DIE. One day, your soul will travel far from you. Breath will leave you. You will become still like the giant iroko tree that fell to the saw. You will be pronounced pristine in the morgue. Probably buried in a cemetery or a grave around your former home. You will become food for the earth. The things you once crushed with your sole will gorge on your flesh and lick your bones, desiring for more. If you make it to the guarded cemetery, you might get some respite if your grave does not become the conclave for solemn meetings of your ancestors or the spirits you consulted while on earth, or become the target of dark beings desiring to excavate your remains immediately after your funeral. If your corpse ends up in that grave around the family compound, the mad man might shit on you, or the dangling penis of that troublesome boy peeing on you. You might be excavated with no apology, for family reasons, if, before all this, the rivalry between your uncle’s wives does not make them swear on your grave while they stamp their angered feet on you after the period of mourning done in your honor. But if you die on the sea, you may not see the bank. The sharks would probably welcome you for their feast. If you die between mangled metals in the name of an avoidable tragedy, you might not get more than a service of songs with no remains to fit in a coffin. If you die somewhere faraway, the few that care about you may not bother to find a home for you here. If you surrender to a gun or the pow of the mine you know nothing about, your friends in government may never find the perpetrators. And if you’re fortunate to die in your sleep, you may not be remembered for anything beyond the house of angst you built.
Lanre Apata is a fulltime reader of literature, a part-time writer and an editor. He also works in Nigeria’s educational sector. His other interests are politics and sport. He resides in Nigeria.
Photo by Mitchell Bowser.