When life become too hard to live in and people becomes too difficult to cope with, when all the sweetness of life becomes sour and taste bitter; people seek for protection from the kind spirit of death.
My sons, I know you all have enjoyed the tales of how heaven and earth come into existence and I told you a lot of mysteries about the seas, cloud, moon, stars and how the hot and blazing sun tormented earth. I told you about birth of thunders and lightening, and that of fleshly humans and the love that existed between the heaven and earth. I also told you about the destruction of the world. My humble sons, hold all my words dearly to your heart and eat not with them, they may be little like mustard seed but they will surely grow tall and becomes nest of wisdom where people come for comfort.
Take a seat and do tend your ears to the words of my mouth. Tonight, I will tell you all about my personal encounter with the spirit of death. Like you all know, death is perceived to be something unpleasant to humans; death is seen to be evil and devilish, and death is perceived to be cruel to human’s existence. But little ones, death is not as evil as you may think, death is kind and indeed a great being to be revered, and on the other way round, death has his own shortcomings too – death might have betrayed us, but life had lied to us.
We still have a lot of miles to cover. I may be blind and quite old, but my inner eyes are sharp and clear like that of a new born baby. I remember just like yesterday, the day death came visiting me, I thought my time was up but I was wrong. Death is such a mysterious being; a dwarf, mighty and dreadful with a horn on his forehead. He was putting on a black garment, dark in complexion and was holding a very thick and long stick. On this old rickety chair I sat; I was totally ready for him, for I know I can’t stop him whenever he is ready to do his job, and no amount of plead will have him moved; I didn’t mop the floor with my grey hair but I begged for his favor that I may entertain him before he execute his mission. He smiled and took a seat. It was really a great privilege given to a mortal being like me and I offered him some kola-nuts, bitter-cola and a gourd of palm wine, he ate and drank to his fill.
He felt so happy with me. I asked if he needed more or want a plate of bush meat. But he shook his head and told me I was the first human on earth to have showed him kind gesture and will surely repay my kindness. I thought he would only do that by removing my name from the book he was holding, but I was equally wrong. He told me he didn’t come to take away my life, but to reveal to me some golden secrets that no human on earth know about or will ever be revealed. But for the fact that I treated him well, he gave me the golden opportunity that I should look into the book of death. And as I opened the sacred book, to my greatest surprise, I saw the greatest mystery that no one either dead or alive has ever seen.
My little sons, I know you are eager to hear from me what was written inside the book, I will tell you, but let me first reveal what death told me. I never till this very moment knew the reason why death gave me the golden opportunity to hear and listen to mysteries about his existence, and I never knew why he revealed to me his true self but he told me, I am of wisdom and knowledge greater than I can ever imagined.
Death said; “Humans are the most divine creatures the creator has ever made and life is the best gift man can ever receive but do humans even treasure the life bestowed upon them?”
I nodded my head as he spoke, for he speaks with great authority.
“Men are known to always shift their blames on something else; men engaged in different wrong doings but will never be ready to take the responsibility for their deeds. When humans consider life not to be so fair enough, they poison their body, smoke and take illicit drugs, rituals and engage in some other things that defy the body and still expect to live long and when they die untimely, they shift the blame on me” he paused and watched me re-adjusted in my position.
Death must have been reading my thought all along; I can clearly read the crooked smile on his lips.
“My existence is so mysterious that even with the great wisdom bestowed upon you; you can’t still know a percent except the ones I reveal to you. I will liken mortal man to a fool who put a pot on a fire to cook, and after the food was done, he took the pot off the fire with his bare hands and along the line, his hands got burnt and eventually died from the wound sustained. Tell me; will you blame death for easing his pain or blame him for his own foolishness?”
I didn’t know if to answer the question or not, but he continued.
“Humans are not satisfied with life, with what they have, and they don’t know how precious those things are until they finally lose them. Instead of building a mansion with the stone life cast at them, they will rather have the stones thrown into the sea and still blame life not to be so fair enough, and as a result they commit suicide and still blame death for taking their life… Or what do you see to a human killing his fellow humans for ritual purposes or what of someone that jumps from bed to bed and as a result died of incurable diseases or what do you see to a drunk and reckless driver who drives on the wrong side of the road and had an accident and a result he and all the passengers died; tell me, should I am truly to be blamed for his recklessness?” he paused and I shook my head in reply and his next word got me thinking, “I am death, I don’t have the power to save life and I don’t have the power to kill either”
He sounded more like a confession.
“Look at me; I am only a peddler who paddles the spirits of humans through the dark sea into the life beyond where they will be judged according to their deeds. Look at this stick…” he said showing me the thick stick he was holding “…it is not meant to snuff life out of humans but to transport their souls to the world beyond when worms and vultures feeds upon their carcasses” he looked quite pitiful “Take this book and have a look” he stretched the book he was holding towards me.
I took the book from him and opened. To my utmost dismay, nothing was written inside the book.
“Don’t be so surprise, I have nothing hidden inside the book you are holding, it’s all empty the way you see it. Though, the book has been with me before the creation of the world but nothing has been written inside since the very day it was handed over to me. I don’t take glory in the lifeless state of man, I hate pains and agony, that has been the only reason always come for human’s rescue but what do they give me in return? – blame”
He sounded quite sad and remorseful.
“Man felt tired of life and took poison, it took effect and he groaned in pain, I then came to his rescue and eases his pain and save him from his foolishness. Judge me in the entirety of your wisdom; did you consider that to be evil?”
I couldn’t talk; all I could do is to watch him speak.
“Poet, this is my own story. I need to go back to my duty now; millions of souls are already waiting for me at the shore but…” he paused as he stood up on his feet “Life will be good to both me and man only if humans could value what they have” he said and disappeared.
to be continued…
Written by Agele Ayo