I wake up suddenly. It’s dark everywhere and I can’t even see my nose, I can’t see anything. I try to reach for the switch that’s always beside my bed but I find that I can’t move my hand. I try again and again but the limb refuses to obey my commands. I try fruitlessly for what feels like forever but nothing improves. I give up.
After hours of seemingly endless panic, I begin to hear voices.
“Move the coffin here.” Coffin?
“No, No, the wreath isn’t supposed to be that way, you idiot! Give that to me!”
It is the voice of my personal assistant. I am confused. It is still dark in the space I seem to be occupying alone. I begin to think of what could have happened. What is the last thing I remember? I remember a party, I remember drinking too much after seeing Hauwa with her husband, she had denied me for so long and had refused to acknowledge what we had. I remember angrily leaving the party. And with sudden clarity, I remember the accident. Judging by my memory and what I heard, I was in a coffin and had been dead for almost two weeks.
I want to cry but the dead don’t cry. The dead don’t do anything else but stay dead. People begin to trickle into the room. I know the moment my sister enters the room. I feel my coffin shake as she rushes to it and holds on like she can somehow bring me back. She heaves and wails like she has lost something most precious to her.
I would be touched if I didn’t know she’s a pathetic liar who was doing everything for show. She would never get anything though, I had made arrangements. The thought that Ramota’s efforts would be in vain brings joy to my dead heart. No one else cries for me. I hear murmurs as people pay their respects and say condolences to Ramota. There is no one to cry for me. I lie there helplessly as the pastor goes on and on about the values of living a life for Christ and how heaven and hell are real. I think to myself that had we made different choices all those years ago, it would be an imam at my funeral. I really hope he’s wrong, I don’t stand a chance of going to Heaven.
Well, shit. I think.
I remember the last thing I did before I went for that party. Hauwa had invited me to her wedding anniversary party just out of politeness: her husband was my business partner. He’d be very shocked and outraged when he saw that I donated all my money to the Nigerian LGBTQ community. He hates gay people. I chuckle as best as I can. I dedicated my life to making other people’s lives as miserable as possible.
My coffin begins to rise. They’re taking me somewhere. Is it time for me to go into the ground? I start to panic. I don’t want to go, I don’t want to be dead. I remember all the things I wanted to do that I didn’t. I remember all the tales the Muslims told about what happens in the grave. I don’t believe it but one can never tell. I feel the coffin being lowered to the ground after a while and I try to move, to call out, anything that will make them stop this.
“Ashes to Ashes.” The pastor begins. People begin to sob. They are probably thinking of the day when their turn will come. My glee returns but is short lived. I am lowered into the hole. Slowly so I don’t pour out of the coffin and spill, that would be a gory sight. No one wants to actually see the dead body.
Ramota is the first to pour sand on my coffin. I hear the sand as it lands on what could have been my head. Ramota is the only one to pour sand on my coffin. Ramota sheds a bit more fake tears as my grave is being filled. I begin to panic. I don’t want to go yet. In the middle of my panic, I start to notice something. My grave starts to get tighter. Tighter and tighter until I feel the most unimaginable pain. What feels like snakes begin to wrap around my chest. Big bands of steel-like muscle. It is the worst kind of pain. As if that is not enough, they begin to sink their teeth into my body, I am helpless to fight back. I can only lie there and wish I was never born as I cry out because of the pain. No one hears me of course. Through all this, sand is still being poured into my grave, more sand is sealing me in, damning me to this forever. I want to scream at them to stop, to pull me out but the words do not pass my throat.
I am drunk on pain, I am in a loop where I feel nothing but pain over and over. After what feels like forever, the snakes start to loosen their hold and retract their teeth from my body. They uncurl from around me and leave the same way they came. I still cannot see anything. Suddenly, everything is bright – the source of the light, two men in robes. I cannot describe exactly what they look like, they are beyond words. Light seems to radiate from their bodies and the sight is breath-taking. I cannot take my eyes off them.
“Who is your Lord?” The first one asks and I think to myself: shit, the Muslims were right, I’m fucked.