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A TIME TO DIE

A TIME TO DIE
By Nnochiri, C. AdrianPastol
(Dedicated to all waiting on death)

“Emeka… Emeka… Emeka…” He practically screamed his name now –“Oh! Ikenna, am so sorry, was a little lost for a minute, when did you come in?” “When did I come in?” replied Ikenna with a puzzled look. “Mekus” that is Emeka’s nickname and what all his friends called him including Ikenna, his closest friend, confidant and room-mate. Though they are in different departments and took lectures at different periods and locations, they still managed to always be together. They had the same friends, visited the same people, ate at the same canteens, hung out at the same spots, went to the same parties and clubs… it goes on, and they have been room-mates for over the two years they have been in school. They have also become very well adjusted to each others’ habits, like the fact that Ikenna never shares any of his personal things with anybody and that includes Emeka his best pal, or the fact that Emeka loves women and has more than a fair share of them yet never pressures Ikenna who never goes on dates.
“Guy, you were not a little lost oh… my brother, you were completely gone and longer than a minute too; do you know how long I have been calling your name?”
-“Sorry my brother” Emeka responded. Ikenna looked at him with a worried face before sitting on the floor beside him. The room was a typical Nigerian student room, only a little richer as they both came from average well-to-do homes. The floor was covered with a rug and two student sized beds were set apart, the ones they had argued over before buying. Emeka wanted a single big size bed that they can both share or rather, that would be more comfortable to his female friends, but Ikenna strongly stuck to his “No” as he capitalized on his habit of not sharing any personals including beds; they had a television set with a DVD player, a reading table at the side of the room, and a ceiling fan that regulates air. So when Ikenna sat on the floor next to him, leaving his own bed and the study chair, Emeka knew he was ready to talk.
“Remember the fight we had over which bed to buy?” Emeka chuckled as he asked and Ikenna join him. “So unnecessary, if I had only thought about it better, then we would not have had any fight in the first place” he was quiet for a while, then he continued, I mean you have your own soap, your own plates, cups, hair-combs…” he laughs, “It’s only fair you have your own bed” Ikenna pushes him playfully, and then calmly replies, “Am sure you’re not going to school today and the mood I see you in now has nothing to do with our beds, or hair combs.” Emeka took a deep breath and stretched out on the floor, facing the ceiling and using the bed for head pillow. “You know that accident that took place yesterday evening at the round about?” –“The one I heard three students died, it was terrible” replied Ikenna.
-“One of them had her head cut-off” Emeka continued, “And I saw her body laying a distance away from her head, both lifeless” –“Sad” was all Ikenna could murmur back. “Tell me Ikenna, would you like to know when you will die?” Ikenna did a bad job hiding his shock as the confusion ran through his face clearly, but Emeka continued without waiting for an answer “would you prefer if an angel, a messenger, or whatever came and told you, IKENNA… YOU HAVE THREE WEEKS BEFORE YOU DIE” he said it trying to mimic a deep voice, “Or would you rather just die?” Ikenna could not respond, and a slight expression of fear was on his face, Emeka noticed this and then continued without pressing further. “There is no need to fear my friend, am the one dying not you” –“What!” exclaimed Ikenna in shock, “What do you mean, are you sick? I mean how… did… what… did..” the un-organized words would have kept coming out but Emeka cuts-in and continued, “you know these student pastors that go around preaching?” it was strange that he would stop there, Ikenna was expecting some better and continuous description of the student pastors, the way Emeka usually described them. –that go around preaching and extorting money from any one they can succeed with during the day and sleeping with our girls, I mean their sisters’ in Christ later at night, in the name of deliverance and prayer sessions… but he simply stopped there and continued, “one of them approached me yesterday, and told me to be prayerful and careful, that he had a revelation about me” –Ikenna thought to himself, I guess that is what they call their dreams “He said he saw me die in his revelation, he said death was after me and I had to be careful” Emeka turned to look at Ikenna while he continued taking, “you know, I used to think that, the day any of them ever approached me with a revelation that I would laugh and shove him off.” Ikenna thought again, how freely he had called it a revelation, he was very sure his Emeka would have always referred to such as a story rather than a revelation. “But it felt so real Ikenna, the way he approached me, the way he said it, like he knew and was sure of what he was saying, Ikenna” He said, “Am scared, I saw that accident yesterday I realized I can’t run or hide from it, when death comes, it comes.”
“Emeka, you surprise me” Ikenna finally spoke out, “You should not let such things get to you, besides, he did not say you must die, he said you have to be careful and prayerful, in other-words, it’s like a warning, not a proclamation”.
“I guess so” replied Emeka, and then he looked to the ceiling again, this time Ikenna joins him, and relaxes by his side looking to the ceiling as well.
“Do you believe there is a heaven?” –“am a Christian, of course I believe in heaven” Ikenna replies, “No” I mean, do you really believe in heaven, like when we die, those with good lives go up to heaven while the bad ones go to hell, do you really believe that God can make one suffer like that for eternity, do you really believe it, not because you are a Christian and oblige to but really do?” this time he looks at Ikenna, expecting a good answer.
“Yes Emeka, I don’t go to church so much just because I enjoy the singing choir. I believe when we die, our spirit move on. And Emeka, get something clear, it is not God that makes those in hell suffer, they choose it by their actions and life-style.”
Emeka swallows his own saliva and emits a deep sigh, Ikenna notices this and realizes that his best friend is been enveloped with fear, he knew the feeling because he had himself walked that road before; he wanted so much to console him, and he knew that telling him his secret will go a long way to help him, but then he wonders what their relationship would be like after he gets over his fears, the knowledge of his secrets would definitely change something in their relationship.
“Emeka” he called out, “you will be alright, and nothing will happen to you and I am very sure of it. Everyone will die eventually, no one lives forever, but the time you have you must not let the fear of that knowledge take from you; I will die sooner than you know, but I will live my life while am alive. You will die too, but not now, if you were going to die now, you would not have been told to be careful and pray. You will not have been given an alternative, it will be fine, and I know this because…

He stops; the urge was there again, the one he had been fighting with for over two years, the urge to tell his secret, to say he is the one dying, to let him know that the drugs he took were not for diabetes but that he has been living with the HIV virus for over four years, and the drugs are all that keeps him going, the urge to let him know that using separate beds, cups and other personals were not really a habit but a necessary cautionary measure. He wanted so much to make him understand why he never went on dates because he had little or no future for love and sex. But he would not; he has to always keep that secret, for though he may not be sure of his future, he is sure of his present, and he wants nothing to change.
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