“Quietus?” by George Kiwanuka
The fear of death is obstructively futile
That cold numb night as you lay bleeding in the ICU, gasping for breath
Feeling lighter and lighter – almost floating
As the monitor beeps, you see a faint image of your kinsfolk
Staring, embracing – hugging tightly
In the absence of the proverbial gentle breeze,
Their sobs and wails concern you not
For it is pointless to brood over what might have been
You ponder about your pilot to the ‘other side’
Is it Walumbe who has wrung the life out of you?
Or a sword bearing angel of death atop a dark horse
Do you traverse a tunnel at whose end a light awaits?
Or stride into an initiation fete with ancestors
to await appeasement as an ancestral spirit
Honoured with spilled drinks and consulted by descendants for counsel
Have you earned the right to eternal rest?
Or will you unhappily roam and haunt the earth settling old scores?
Occasionally creeping from your dark grave to
Venture onto streets as a sheep or cat
Perhaps Eucharist confirmation class got it right
As a child you sang of that grim inevitable hour
Of trial and judgement, of laid out plaints
Of an audit and examination of your life’s recorded minutes
Of an austere mighty judge and his graceful Son
Weighing your soul’s account against a white flawless feather
They’ll cast you either to the peaceful glorious Elysium on their right; to incessant singing,
Or the fiery doomed bottomless sea of fire on their left
where the wretched wail, groan and scream eternally
A Mogul’s Epitaph.
I stared into the cold chapel across the casket
Caught glimpse of my expressionless lifeless body
lying still in that huge varnished wooden prison
seemingly floating in a sea of hypocritical flowers and wreathes
all my power and millions irrelevant
From a distance, bewilderment served me blows
At the few people who sincerely mourned me
I saw the futile efforts to feign grief
As they tried to lie, in vain, for their grins gave them away
Deception reigned as they concocted good inexistent memories of me
I saw them all, scheming for the vast property and legacy I had left
I scoffed at this,
For the cut throat politics I had taught them
would be their death and downfall
I saw my family infiltrated, contaminated by greed
My wives, raised to be sisters, plotting each other’s demise
My sons laying it bare in air tight bloody war, their sisters picking sides
A preference to spill their own blood to divide
the dirty wads of cash I had left
like spoils and booty from a conquest war
At the far end of the chapel
I caught sight of Makumbi, my scribe friend from the paper
His face was expressionless as he drew his claws
Laying traps like a fisherman’s net with hopes for a
story about me
He prodded my partner’s and acquaintances for dirt,
As net-worth stories do not sell
When all this plastic grief melts away,
Does loyalty to one die with them?
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