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Random Thoughts on life and death


I woke up yesterday morning feeling “one kind”. I was reflecting on the transient nature of power and life itself. And as I was at it, my thoughts went to three, no four, incidents-two somewhat morbid and the others also telling but not as scary. That was even before I read of the unfortunate demise of my brother and friend, Onukaba Adinoyi-Ojo. May his soul rest in peace profound!

In 2014, I had the unfortunate responsibility of burying my immediate younger brother, Peski (May your soul continues to rest in peace, my brother). Perhaps, one of the most devastating moments aside when the news of his passing was broken to me and when I first visited him in the morgue, was when I went to buy his casket.  OMG! Of course, I had done that job before (in 2003, when my father passed away) but I didn’t ever think I would do it for my younger brother who, in my human calculations, would be the one to stand by children when I would be buried. Anyways…! So, upon arriving at the Casket Market in Owerri, I was spoilt for choice. Honestly. There were all sorts of designs and, of course, all sorts of prices-some really crazy, considering the fact that these wooden boxes would go down six feet with the dead bodies and that’s it! I wanted the best for my beloved brother, regardless, so I focused on some particular types. Goodness me, the dealers were all over me like wasps. Some were more aggressive than others, and had well-rehearsed sales pitches that could sway an unprepared buyer. Let me cut the bull here.

So, I finally made my choice, paid for it, got it lifted onto a Hilux Truck and off we went to the morgue! As we drove behind the truck, amid very hot and shattering tears, I wondered what would happen on my own day. I wondered whether there would be someone to choose a “good casket” for me. I wondered whether how the negotiations would go and how it would be transported to the morgue. Thankfully, I have set some money aside for my funeral, just in case, and I have described the kind of casket that would be used and where exactly I would be buried, if I’m lucky. I believe God I would have the privilege of dying peacefully and my wishes would be respected by my family. Phew!

Next incident was in 2009, when my boss died of Cancer-after a protracted illness. You can imagine the number and caliber of people who called him “Boss! Boss!!” you can imagine the number of people who genuflected for him, and curried favors of him. So, you can then imagine how much my flabber was gasted when at his burial (according to Islamic rites) I found not more than 15 colleagues at the cemetery. I was totally shocked! Our former CEO? Just 15 or so of us? Wow!!! Life!

Last year, as a signatory to our company accounts, I was asked to sign off letters to our banks instructing them to remove one of my former colleagues, who had just left, from their database! Are you kidding me? Hell no, no kidding, for that was reality. The gentleman, a very good chap by the way, had gone and that’s it. He must be replaced because he is no longer and can no longer be a signatory to the company’s account! As I signed off the documents, I jocularly told the Finance guy who gave them to me that he would do the same for me some day. Guess what he said? “Boss, that’s if I do not leave before you!” I thought that was really deep.

Finally, as the person directly responsible for corporate events, I keep a database of VIPs. Each time we are hosting one of those VIP events, we naturally refresh the list, which, by the way, is always updated. I have had occasions when I pulled out some invitations because the person is no longer relevant. I mean, the moment you cease to be the CEO of say Ethelberts Clothing, your name will drop off the guests list, except and unless you move on to something bigger or something as relevant. If not, you’re gone, and you cease to be invited to such events. The only other way you could be invited is probably if you had a personal relationship with my boss or with me. I recall recently, someone who used to be high up there sent my boss a text “begging” to be invited to our event which he read of in the media. He had dropped off our guest list, unfortunately, but the boss man asked me to send him an invite. Such is life!

Now there’s nothing strange or out of this world about the incidents I have narrated here but what’s strange is that people do not pay attention to them. The Igbos say when you attend your brother’s funeral, you are indirectly attending your own funeral because you won’t be there when you’ll be buried. Enough said on this, except to say we must be prepared for death since it is one of the characteristics of living things. In the Roman Catholic Church, burying the dead is a Corporal Work of Mercy because it helps to comfort the bereaved as well as provide intercession for the dead. Also, it’s an opportunity for the living to experience what would happen to them-if they are lucky. Some people are so unfortunate they don’t even get a decent burial.

Furthermore, if you’re in a top or good position, do not get carried away by the genuflections and lowly courtesies because,  according to Julius Caesar in Shakespeare’s epic drama eponymously named Julius Caesar, “such couching and lowly courtesies could fire the blood of ordinary man and turn pre-ordinance and first decree into the law of children.” What oft happens is that some leaders get confused by the praise-singing and adulations and take certain actions that they won’t ordinarily have taken. In most cases, they are abandoned by their users and abandoned by those they hurt in the course of dancing to the songs of praise.

At the end of the day, the moral is to live your life like it was golden. The rule is very simple: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The other relevant rule is: “never lose touch with reality, no matter the height of your perch”.  The dead may not see those who attended their funeral but it is a sad commentary to die and not have people come to pay last respect. So Steven Covey would ask that you imagine you’re dead today and also imagine what people would truly say about you.

In this Lenten Season, let us reflect on our lives and the way we relate with God and man. As we say, if you pinch yourself, you’ll know how much it will hurt to pinch others. If life is truly the pursuit of eternal happiness, and good deeds bring forth happiness, then let’s do good and spread happiness wherever we go for no one knows who will be next and when the bell will toll.
Random Thoughts on life and death Random Thoughts on life and death Reviewed by Emeka Oparah on Tuesday, March 07, 2017 Rating: 5

1 comment

  1. Oh Lord, teach us to number our days, to apply our heart to wisdom!


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