Dead Man Walking

(To all suffering from the loss a loved one)

“So, this is where you hide out?” she asked looking round the large but simply arranged bar. It was elegantly set with six tables for two resting at the walls on one side of the room, three tables for four clustered in the middle, a big bar at the front with very high stools facing it and a bar-man dressed in white shirt and boat tie with a bright smile. She could not make his trousers as he was behind the big bar.

On the other side of the room were two double-sitter sofas placed close to the walls and a three-sitter sofa that divided the room in half dividing, there are tables in front of each sofa.

She smiled at her fiancé, taking the first sip from her glass. “Not bad, not bad at all” He smiled back at her still expecting more words “it looks elegant, simple, not too stylish but elegant, nice and the finishing, I like.”
“Hmm… ” he finally speaks, “the inner eyes of an interior decorator” they shared a moment of laughter before he continued, “well, yea! This is where I come to relax most evenings” –“but it’s strange” she said, “I mean you are not the drinking type, so why pick a bar to relax?”

-“You are right, I come here for different reasons and drinking is not really one of them. Besides, this is really more of a relaxation centre than a bar and I must confess I have become rather used to taking at least one bottle of beer every evening, though I occasionally settle for a bottle of water and just watch football”. “Tell me, why do you really come here?” she queried, he smiled at her again, the type of smile that says I love looking at you, then he answered, “like I said, for different reasons, most times to watch football, other times just to hang out, I listen to people argue (chuckles), basically just to take my mind off work, meditate and just while away time” she responds with a puzzled look before asking “to meditate?” “yes” he replied, now she gave an even more confusing look, “how does one meditate in a bar?” he lets the laughter ring out before giving a more serious look “most of the people that come here are regulars like myself, over time I have come to know the stories of most of them and I often reflect on those stories as I look at them,  knowing that some of them come here because this is the only place that makes them happy, it’s like a refuge” she saw his expression had intensified and realized he could actually be meditating from their stories and that got her more curious.

“Tell me more” she requested, he smiled at her and motioned with his eyes to a man sitting on one of the tables for two, “He came from the east to Lagos to learn a trade, and succeeded greatly; he had nothing when he came and was very young, he served his master  for eight years, and was duly settled, today he owns almost half the market he trades and he is worth millions excluding assets which are quite a lot, that constantly reminds me that anybody can succeed in life”

“The man he is sitting with also comes from the east” as he motions to the man drinking and laughing with the millionaire. “He was also a very wealthy business man, but lost all his goods in a fire, he had just off-loaded seventeen containers and got a loan from the bank; he suffered a heart failure after the fire but soon recovered, his friends helped him get back on his feet and in business again, but he is still a long way from where he was before the fire, that reminds me that anyone can fall”
Dead Man Walking

He notions to a man on one of the two-sitter sofa drinking with a young girl by his side, “that is Richard, he is not doing badly financially, but has an unhappy marriage; so he comes here every night and leaves really late. He comes with different girls and drinks like a tank but never gets drunk, he reminds me how vital happiness is and how little things matter” he looks back at his fiancée, “you see what I mean?” she was just staring at him, completely lost to his stories, and glued with admiration. “You sure do have my attention now” she replied, “What about them?” she asked and notions to two young men sitting on the three-sitter sofa and practically taken by the football being shown on the television. “I knew you would not miss them” he said with a smile, “the extremely good looking guy comes once in a while, especially when his club is playing, I don’t really know much about him but I know he is single and has a heart of gold, he sometimes buys drinks for everyone around especially, when his club is winning; I can say he reminds me how simple life can be.
The other one is married and also nice, he remind s me to never give up, I hear he graduated from the university and roamed the streets in search of a job for over seven years, then he decided to go into business; now he is a big time importer, and can boast of being a landlord”

“Hmm… that’s nice”, she replied taking his hand in hers “what’s your story?” she asked, “Oh! Mine is really boring” he said laughing “I am just a guy with a regular family, regular job, but blessed with a fantastic woman, One I will be taking to the alter soon” she smiled at him, a sweet and simple smile that said I love you too, then replied “you remind me that love can be beautiful.”

Just then, a much older looking man walks in, and heads directly to the bar without even a smile on his face, his appearance immediately changed the atmosphere of the room, as everyone gave different expression of what could be observed as pity. As he walked past them, she perceives the smell of alcohol, which gave him away that he was not here for his first bottle though he was neatly and responsibly dressed.

“What is his story?” she asked, almost in a whisper, “Ocho Onwu” (an Ibo expression meaning, looking for death) that is what he is called” he said, “he has quite a story indeed; it is said that he became wealthy at a very young age and met a woman that completed his world, they were madly in love and decided to get married, but his father refused, claiming that she was from an osu (Out-cast/forbidden) family, he fought for them but failed, out of love, he still went ahead and married her and the father swore that he would never hear the cry of a baby and she would be the death of him. He also swore that he never wants to see him again and he was no longer his son unless he sends her away. For thirteen years they were married but without a baby to call their own. Their love was real and strong, and they remained together, he then decided to go and visit his father regardless of everything. On getting home, he met his relatives crying because his father had just died. His pains knew no bound but his own life came to an end two months later when his wife was knocked down by a careless driver, the doctors were trying to save her life when they discovered she was three weeks pregnant. They both died; wife and baby. It’s been ages since anyone heard his voice. He now lives a carefree life, drinking and smoking…. just name it; he does anything that can invite death.

“He wants to die with her” she said with tears in her eyes, “No” he replied, gripping her hands in his, “His is already dead, he died when she died, that is just a dead man walking.” She looks at him but this time, not with a smile, “What does his story tell you?” she asked, he looks her in the eyes and replies, “that death, sorrow and pain are all real.
Dead Man Walking

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About AdrianPastol Nnochiri


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