“Sunset in Monaco” 2015 by Fadekemi Abiru

I read somewhere that stories of love don’t always serve to be beautiful, useful or light.

I think these kind of stories become blankets but since they’re not useful, aren’t much good when tough times come calling.

I also think that those who suffer the most when death happens are the ones who do the dying. They are the ones who get cut off mid sentence. The ones with kids who they never see grow up. They are the ones that succumb to the various phenomena existing to bring death about: predation, suicide, the ageing process and so on.

They become hushed tones and lowered gazes during conversations like they are something to be ashamed about. They become tears and lumpy throats. They hurt their loved ones in the worst way and they probably just want to scream out loud about how they couldn’t help dying.

In Central Africa, on the shores of a body of water called Lake Kivu, it is believed that we humans are the ones who help Death. We hide Death up our skirts and in our bellies.

Bonghikaya’s best friend died when she was only 13. She remembered how she did not cry or weep like everyone else around her did.

Mourning was for the living, not the dead after all.

She recalled how, last year, Hakeem’s mum had undone herself on the dusty village roads when they came to tell her her only son had been swallowed whole by the river. The water had given him back eventually but not before ripping him apart so wide, his bloated body no longer had space for life. She had screamed his name and tore at her hair but Bonghikaya was certain that this woman, wrapped up in grief as she was, must know that her vocal chords could not stretch far enough to reach wherever her son’s hearing was now. She knew that she was crying for herself- for the fact the essence of her son had become something she could no longer hold. Something she could not cook for and something she could not walk to school.

So Bonghikaya did not cry for her friend. She didn’t cry for all the jokes they would never laugh at together. Or the walks home from school they’d never make again. Her tears did not fall for the fact that Aisha’s bedroom had now become a redundant thing or at the fact that she now had to find a new best friend.

She complimented herself on how strong she was being. A stoic figure surrounded by all these worn-out people who had put all their energy into mourning. And for what? What could Aisha do with all of it? She had become so strong and that’s why she didn’t notice when she started feeding the blade she stole from her father’s bathroom cupboard her skin. She insisted on wearing tops with longer sleeves but that was just a change in preference, nothing to worry about. Her last meal must have been ages ago but she will eat when she’s hungry. It took her 4 weeks and 6 days to wear her body out so that there was very little separating bone from flesh. She died like she mourned- quietly and surrounded again, by exhausted people.

This is the kind of story you wear until something not so ugly or useless or dark comes along.

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