Saturday, April 10, 2021 8:27 am
By Fred Chukwulobe
I expressed my deeper love for woman following my mother’s death. As soon as I got home, cried a little more for her, I insisted on going to the mortuary to see her body. The morticians didn’t allow me because “there was too much chemical in the mortuary”. In this part of the world we still use the crude method to preserve bodies. So, I was asked to return the next day. I did.
I insisted on seeing her body before I began any arrangements towards her interment. She had specifically asked me to give her a befitting burial. And I will. The ceremonies will begin on Thursday June 3, 2021 with a wake. Funeral Mass on Friday June 4, 2021.
On getting back to the mortuary the next day, there were so many people waiting to collect their dead ones for burial. There were the undertakers typically and others wearing all sorts of burial dresses/uniforms known as “asoebi” in Yoruba parlance. Some were chatting away, others were filming, snapping pictures and “ekeing” out a living- courtesy of the dead. There were coffins of all sorts. I saw one tiny, cheap one and as the relatives put the body and closed it, I wondered if the relatives of the dead man “de vex”. Very cheap coffin.
But the people who attracted my attention the most were the morticians. These guys are a special breed of people. The way they handled dead bodies that day, you’d think they were acting movies. Strong people I tell you. One was busy dressing bodies, throwing them about as if they were logs, dressing them like make up artists. I watched, lost in thought. I wondered what drives them. Is it money or love of the job? I don’t know.
Anyway, I pleaded to be allowed to see my dead mother. After some few minutes of pleading, I was asked to submit my tag, which I did. I was ushered in, meandering through so many bodies until I found her body. I removed my red cap, said a few prayers and cried. Men, I was crestfallen.
I love visiting mortuaries for the simple reason that it sobers me. After seeing bodies, some big, others small, some unbelievably tiny, I came out and thought of this life. Frankly, there is nothing in it.
So, when next you threaten to “deal” with somebody, go visit a mortuary and see how morticians will deal with your body when you die, which you will, surely. When next you roar, “do you know who I am”, look for a mortician. He will tell you that you’re nobody and that he has “dealt” with your type and those bigger than you.
Bodies, bodies everywhere. I saw one very big lady with everything big. Everything. And she was once somebody’s crush, darling, wife, mother, grandmother, friend, enemy. But now she is lying motionless at the mercy of morticians with her big everything in the open. Things that were once hidden, washed clean and used for good or for bad. I say no more.
If you have time, try and visit the mortuary. You’d begin to appreciate life better. Most importantly, you’d appreciate morticians. They’re a special breed. Be ready to “find them something” even as you cry.
The truth of the matter is that there are professions and there are professions. Please appreciate the street sweeper, the garbage collector. Without them you’d close your nose and open your eyes partially as you drive through our famished roads.
Above all, appreciate a mortician. He will deal with your body when you die.
Kai! So my mother is gone?
-Fred Chukwulobe is a journalist and PR consultant