In about 9 days, you will get a text at 2 am announcing my death.
If I know my family. It will be a no-frills message. Announcing simply, that I lived and then I died. It will be a matter of fact. A reflection of who they are as a people. There will no loud wailing or drama. They will for the first time in weeks go home. They will sleep, fitfully. They will feel even more guilty when they wake up.
By then, my extended family will have started calling. Offering their empty condolences. Saying how exceptional I was. They will be unwelcome. My mum will go to church that day. She will sit at the edge of the wooden pew, on the fourth bench from the front. She has always sat there. Close enough to the altar, but not too close that everyone notices. She will pray. And because God is in her pocket, he will listen. Somehow, my many sins will be forgiven, I will see heaven, on the back of my mother’s prayer.
If I know you, you will be asleep. At peace with your dreams, and the life you have chosen to live. You will wake up at 9 am, make a cup of that bitter tasting coffee you like, maybe masturbate before checking your phone. There is nothing about you that is acceptable to a civilized society. And somehow, I loved, no I love you for it.
If you are feeling good, you will WhatsApp me again. Wondering what foolishness is going through my mind. That I would be unwilling to let a girl I love, see me in my sick bed. I told you, didn’t I? I want you to think of me as a strong man. Not the bedridden mess I have become. You will offer to send nudes. I will decline. Not because I am particularly moral, but my mother has been in charge of my phone these past weeks. I assure you, she will not enjoy those images as much as I would. Plus, she has not yet accepted that I am an adult at 35 years. And I do not enjoy her scolding.
You will not check your texts until midday. You tell me it brings bad luck when you do. Only old people, and people without internet send texts anyway. So you’ll go about your life not knowing what has happened. Perhaps, you will even clean the house this once. But if I know you, you will probably watch another episode of Atlanta. You hate cleaning, but you will never admit it.
At 11:30, I will call you. Or rather my number will. My cousin will be on the other side. He will break it to you. There will be no hint of emotion. Just a curt sentence telling you about it. And I hope, just this once. Your world will break for me.
I always thought about what you meant, when you said you would never love someone too much. As if there was a universally accepted scale of how to love me. Was it a lie? Did you mean it?
As I write this, the doctor has just left. 3 months ago, we discovered the prostate cancer. It was too late. I only went to see the doctor when the pain became unbearable. I assure you, I did not enjoy the examination. My family had a really good time laughing about it. Funny, because the thing I love is killing me. They have this notion that sex causes prostate cancer. They are ignorant. I will correct them and they will laugh again at their own foolishness. Forgive them, it is their way of dealing with pain. They, in the weeks that followed, stayed with me through it. Even now when the doctor said something about me having 7 days, they stay with me. They stay in turns, the men staying longer than they should. Which is why I must apologize if this letter smells sweaty. My 2 brothers are sleeping on the sofa. They should be watching me. But they are tired, they came here straight from work. They smell horribly, after 18 hours without showering. If I don’t die from the cancer, their sweaty armpits will get me. I love them. But still, I wonder what their wives saw in them. They say the same thing about you. What did you see in me? I think it is because my ass is a little bigger than yours. That way, your daughters will have something to be proud of. I hope you smile when you read this.
The doctor said its okay if I go home. This is how I know this is serious. They never let you leave the hospital unless they know you will return, even in a body bag. I want to pass away on my bed, in my own bed sheets. Where, if I press my face firmly into my pillow. It smells of you, and your hair, and that nasty shampoo you like.
Apparently, when you die, you shit a little bit on yourself. So I would advise getting a new mattress. I’m leaving my bed to you. You know why. There will be some silly trinkets in my will, that I leave to you. When you see them, you will know why. They somehow remind me of you.
I hope you know, that I think of you now. As my brothers wake up and start packing up. I think of you, even when mama comes into my room pretending to be strong. In her head, it is God’s will. I am not particularly happy with God right now. As my brothers, pack my belongings into my bags, my mother sits on the bed and mumbles. She is struggling, you can see it. She says something about cooking chapatis tonight. There’s nothing that cannot be cured by prayer and hot chapatis. Dad stands at the door. He has that look on his face. Resignation. The same one he had when I told him I wanted to marry you. He will in some minutes come over to my bed and help me up. I hope he cries, “hata kidogo tu ni sawa.”
If I know you, when you get off that call; you will sink into that sofa I like. The one with polka dot cushions. The cushions that were seemingly made for my ass. The way it is both firm and gentle at the same time. Like an experienced lover.
I hope you cry. Every man hopes he is worth crying for. I’m a little jealous and I’m praying that you never find a boyfriend again. But there are many men who will kill to get a chance to paint your toenails.
If you know me. I’ll be somewhere in heaven. Probably in charge of entertaining God and his angels. First thing I will do, is I will introduce weed, I’ll probably sprinkle a blunt or two in the incense. So that when the 24 elders burn it, all of us will get so high. Everyone gets so funny when they are high. Do you think God will like it…the prank? Will he mind that I did not attend church often enough. Apart from those 2 weeks when you left me. And I thought he was punishing me.
But even then, in the majesty of heaven. In my small mansion which neighbor’s Janet Jackson’s breasts to the right and Angelina Jolie’s legs to the left. I’ll remember you. Your soft sultry voice, when you cooked and the shape of your neck from behind. Every evening, just before we start singing Hallelujah. I’ll think of you. And my short prayer before I sleep will be interspersed with thoughts, dirty ones, of sleeping with you.
I hope you think of me too.
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