My sister lived near the graveyard. My sister’s compound shared walls with the massive resting place of a thousand bones. It was a children’s cemetery but my sister said that occasionally some unclaimed corpse, perhaps a lunatic or a leper, was buried there. If you peeped over the wall you would see the small cemented portions, given shady covers by dry overgrown weeds.

Peeping into the graveyard was a daily comic feast for me. The epitaphs on the graves always pressed me to a throaty release of mirth. This one was my favourite:

Death of BaT: 7th seTemBer 2oo6
Death of DieD: 4st maTcH 2oo9
We LoVEs u
BuT GoD most LoVE u

My sister didn’t like me peeping over the graves. She said dead people needed to be respected and allowed their privacy. Dead people don’t care, I would laugh at my sister. Although I was four years her junior I teased her a lot. She never rebuked me; she would smile and call me Prof.

It happened last Friday. My sister, the husband and their kids left for a wedding in Kaduna to return Monday. I had the whole house to myself. My brother-in-law thought I would be afraid to stay here alone and suggested I go stay with his parents. The thought of living with grey-haired people with insatiable domestic requests didn’t appeal to me. I said no, I would stay here. The abundance of space, food and electronic pleasures sent my blood racing with warmth.

That night I sat on the sofa with my bony legs on the table, a plate of chicken soup at this elbow and a bottle of stout at the other. A pop music video was blasting before me, deafening everybody in one-hundred miles ambit. Both the fan and air-conditioner were on. It was good to be alive. ASUU Strike wasn’t a death sentence after all!

At a little past mid-night I made for the toilet. The door was surprisingly locked, or was I drunk? A kick at the door would confirm it. As I shifted back and lifted my leg up, I heard a tiny voice of a three or four year old: ‘Please disturb me not; don’t you know that dead people need their privacy?’

My head swelled like a giant balloon, inflated with hot air. I ran to the nearby kitchen door. It was also locked. I kicked it. It didn’t open. Then I heard, another little child’s voice, ‘Who is there? Don’t you know that dead people need food?’

‘NO!’ I shouted and ran full speed out of the passage to the door leading into the compound. I must have smashed Usain Bolt’s record in my dash. At the door, I heard knocking. ‘Thank God.’ I sighed, someone was around.

‘Open the door,’ chorused a dozen little voices, ‘outside is cold; don’t you know that dead people need warmth.’

I don’t know which one happened first, the urine bursting from my bladder or my falling into a faint.


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