On death

For the first time in near to a decade I went to church willingly yesterday… I went to the church that my recently late lecturer frequented until his death… as I sat in my claustrophobic pew I thought to myself how the church was filled with a congregation of strangers… people who did not know my lecturer and some who probably didn’t want to… not only that but these strangers bowed their heads and sang sad hymns in “memory” of him. As I sat there, I wondered in whose memory they were singing. I wondered too what the purpose of life is… are we here to await the death knell to chime our name and can we resist when the sound begins to deafen us?

As the preacher ranted on about casting nets and catching fish I couldn’t help but notice what seemed to be a tear upon the cheek of one grey geriatric woman. I thought (for you will notice, I think a lot) for whom this woman could possibly be crying… If not for my late lecturer, then surely it must be for another… indeed the woman could have been crying for herself. For let us not deny that at 80something in Sub-Saharan Africa no day passes without one wondering when the Grim Reaper shall awake from his slumber and do his bidding.

People tend to shy away from talk about death and those of us who do are regarded as being morbidly inclined and often told to shut up or knock on wood… and so we often shut up. It’s not that I don’t fear death. In fact death is the one thing I fear the most… so much so that sometimes I lie awake late at night in my bed (or sit at my desk) and breathe deeply in appreciation of the life that still exists within me. I lie awake because I can’t help but think that I have done so little with my life, and that which I have done has probably left many a heart broken and hopes dashed. Is it selfish of me to want “strangers” to cry in my memory for in some way I wish to touch their lives? Is it selfish of me to want to be remembered for the good that I know I can do and not the bad I know I’ve done?

If you have read this far and are wondering why I don’t just take a sleeping tablet already… worry not, there’s a point to all this. Or maybe not whichever way you wish to look at it. The purpose being, I hope that those who read this may seek to better themselves, to live their lives to the fullest and appreciate that your goodness reigns eternal even in death. And so when I lay my head to rest, I hope once again that I wake up better than yesterday’s Ottilia… for now, I am not yet born.

>>>>>I write this in memory of the late ever illustrious Dr Solomon Nkiwane… for whom I do not mourn, for I feel my salty tears will only tarnish his memory. A man who dedicated his life to serving others and enriching many intellectually and spiritually cannot be mourned. His legacy cannot allow that. <<<<

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