Death and Life – Abiodun Kuforiji Nkwocha

Death and Life – Abiodun Kuforiji Nkwocha

My husband and I dragged my luggage downstairs from my hotel room.

This was 27th June 2015. We had finished the Farafina 2015 workshop and leaving the hotel was bittersweet.

Bitter because the 10days were too short and sweet because of all the new friendships including meeting the awesome Ms Chimamanda Adichie.

We left the hotel very early to beat the Saturday sanitation exercise. I got home, kissed my kids and went to sleep.

A couple of hours later, I heard screaming that jolted me awake. I wore my kaftan and ran outside bare footed.
“She is not breathing. We tried CPR. She is not breathing.”

My husband was beside me. My friends were crying.

Then I heard the sound.

Men don’t cry. But when they do, it is the most harrowing thing ever.

My neighbour was wailing and some men were already bringing down his wife. Her body seemed unusually heavy as they held her by her hands and legs. She was not completely covered up. I yelled at my help to give me a bed sheet. In the face of death, modesty is a stupid worry but I did not know how else to help. She was placed in the back of his car and he insisted on driving. My husband was with them.

We that were left behind stood for a while. I could not take it anymore. I followed them to the hospital.

She was still in the back seat of the car, completely covered with the bed sheet. Her husband sat in front of the hospital wailing. His mother and brother came.

His brother went to the husband and spoke with him. He opened the back door and knelt down holding her and crying and praying.

And then arrangements started kicking in.

I stood beside him and rubbed his back sometimes. I whispered words of comfort that I knew he was not hearing.

People came. One by one.

Then the phone calls. Someone had to go be with her mother before the news was broken to her.

We stayed till a vehicle was gotten.

I watched them zip her up in a bag and we followed him to the mortuary.

When everything was done, they handed over her rings. He clutched them and cried and cried.

Young, beautiful and purposeful woman.

He had been out jogging and got stuck when sanitation started. He came back to find her dead in the bathroom.

We tried to comfort him. My husband told him even though it seemed he would never smile again, he would. My husband was speaking from a personal journey he had experienced.

He moved out after some months, who can blame him?

We saw him once after that and this experience had hung heavily in the air.

We were no longer in touch.

Then yesterday (15th April), we were coming back from church and my husband stopped in front of a shop. I began to ask him why because we were all hungry and dreaming of our Sunday rice. Then, I saw him.

Our neighbour.

He was smiling ear to ear. But it was not the smile. It was his eyes. That was where the smile was coming from.

We said hellos and then he said it.
“I need to come and see you guys. I want to invite you for my baby dedication.”

Tears filled my eyes. I reached out and held his hand briefly. My husband reached and shook him.

“Please invite us, we will come.”

And there you have it.


There is a pain that feels like nothing will ever be right again. We find ourselves bent double and wondering why we have to go through some things.

I have no idea why she died. It is one thing that I am not sure anyone can ever answer.

But I was filled with so much happiness to know that the tree that had been stripped bare of fruits and leaves was standing full and tall.

It does not matter how many times the sun sets.

It will always rise the next morning.
Weeping may endure for a night.
But there will be a reason to smile again.

Rest in peace dear one.

Welcome to this earth precious one.

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