When A Bird Passes On

By Ikenga Chronicles December 22, 2019

When A Bird Passes On

–Iloh Friday Okechukwu

Agaba was one person you can’t but noticed in the town. Tall, lanky and with a pair of eyes fenced off with bushy brows. Agaba had peculiar eyes, always dimmed and appeared sleepy. His strides were oftentimes slower than a praying mantis. His entire behaviour and life revolved round the bottle. He was a drunk. Tales had it that as a young man he was handsome and strong, and was doing well in business. But somehow things took a downward turn for the worse. All these were history.

It was said that he got so drunk on a particular night that he slept in a cemetery. When asked how he got the gut to do this, smiling sheepishly, he said, one particular grave seemed to him like his bed, and it beckoned to him. He owed many traders for drinks, and with time they stopped selling to him. But Agaba was a sweet talker, and so still had his way with some.

Then, one morning he was found dead in his sleep. The family took his corpse, dug a grave and hurriedly buried him. It was obvious that the family was somewhat not unhappy with his death. While alive they regarded him as a source of embarrassment. It was no surprise that there was no obituary of his death. He was not mourned, and not missed.

Life’s a funny place to be. Somewhere in town, a nest of similar persons as Agaba, met and took counsel, condemned the lacklustre disposal of his corpse. They were his fellow drunks. They had lost one of their own, they missed him dearly; and so, as the saying goes, they removed their hair, and chew it, and vowed, that they would give him a befitting burial, no matter what.

One-man-company, who was very closed to Agaba, infact, many people regarded him as his best friend, was the one that led the procession. About two dozens of drunks, all men, had gathered and were now in a single file, headed for where he was buried. Ugomba had a very sonorous voice, and so, was asked to wail a dirge. He raised a mournful song and others took it up; about four held empty bottles and with this supplied beat to the dirge. Funnily enough, the atmosphere generated was moving and sombre. They marched, wailed and lamented their loss, from street to street; berating those who looked down upon drunks. Onlookers were amazed. By about five o’clock, in the evening, they encircled Agaba’s grave. Palm wine, ogogoro, beer, etc flowed. They mourned, made merry and exalted the memory of their departed comrade. This went on far into the night. By about midnight, all were asleep. They left differently for their homes early the next morning.

When birds and rats die, their kinds mourn them; whichever way, mourning is mourning.