WE are standing in the stern stillness of the sun, numbing. Subdued anger buried in regrets. But why? What is fibroid after all? Doctors, autopsy, ethics, money, life, death, customs, medical care, everything else…The words just filtered from various mourning lips, sad faces, pathos, everywhere.
So many questions, so many speculations, at times, unutterable speculations. Memories come flooding the hearts. Old memories, fresh memories. So many memories of very, very personal encounters, intimate relationships, appointments now terminated by death. Why, why, why…? The questions again…
But Mrs. May Ellen Ezekiel Mofe-Damijo was not there to answer them. Not there to respond to any speculation or simply burst into her famous toothy smiles.
More guests are coming, lining the hoary stillness of the Ikoyi Cemetery, waiting for her casket to arrive.
Greetings are mumbled. Old friends, colleagues, admirers meet. The hearts are too heavy for excitements. Just mere acknowledgements. The reality of life and death looms like an incubus…
Now and then somebody taps somebody, whispers and brings out a tape recorder. Or TV camera. Reporters and interviews everywhere, even in the graveyard!
The irony did not strike home until it was Mike Awoyinfa’s turn for an interview.
“Ah! Ah!,” he protests, refusing. “This is not the day for interviews.” The reporter pleads, pleads, pleads.
“Talk to him, Mike,” I had to intervene, remembering our team of reporters who had been ordered to provoke comments even from the gravediggers!
So, why will Mike not talk to a reporter? Reluctantly, he agrees to be interviewed by a television crew on the MEE he knows or used to know.
We have been waiting for over an hour, sweating and mourning. Finally, the casket arrives, a gleaming mahogany. The pall bearers are preceded by singers whose rendition of Amazing Grace with clarinet and saxophone melted hearts.
At the graveside, Pastor Chris Okotie charged with the spiritual flourish of the anointed spoke in poetic cadences about the reality of death and the glory that awaits the saints.
Like Martin Luther King before a Negro crowd, Okotie’s voice rippled through the crowd, tearing hearts, exploding the vanity of life, the futility of the power of death against the righteous, lifting our spirits to the transcendental glory of heaven.
But no matter whatever Okotie says, the incontrovertible reality of the Scriptures he quotes assuring everyone that the dead in Christ shall rise in glory, that Mrs Mofe-Damijo is already resting in Abraham’s bosom, watching the funeral drama from the balcony of heaven with smiles, tears still flowing freely.
Behind me, Mike Awoyinfa had become wet in the eyes, head bowed; Eric Osagie on my right could no longer take notes, just tears.
Suddenly, people cried out for cold water. A mild stampede. Somebody had fainted. Shortly after, another fainted and yet another…
Uncontrollable sobs, heavy hearts everywhere. Even if Ikoyi cemetery were in the desert, the tears of mourners over the years were sufficient to water it into fertility.
As the hymns go on, I am no longer sure of my usual resolution against tears at funerals. But no…no…
For a believer, washed and cleansed by the precious blood of the Lamb of God who washed away the sin of the whole world, tears at funerals is an act of futility. It changes nothing, adds or removes nothing to the situation of the dead.
Death is the termination of reality only in our earthly tabernacle but it is the beginning of our journey into the eternity of glory in God or perdition.
On our way out of the cemetery adorned with various artistically structured tombs of the wealthy, Shola Oshunkeye finds his voice: “It is good to come here once in a while just to remind us of the futility of life and the need to be close to God.”
I disagree with him. You do not need the graveyard to remind you of the reality of life and death and the need to be drawn closer to God.
The point which many people miss is that we need at ll times to live in constant assurance of our relationship with God so that God does not become for us, the god of convenience as (Father Kukah?) puts it, but an ever present God.
How MEE looked in death
BY SHOLA OSUNKEYE
But for the fact that her bed this time around, was a dark brown casket, whoever saw May Ellen Mofe-Damijo lie-in-state Thursday morning would think the media queen was only taking a nap after a hard day’s job.
As she lay there in the casket, which inner lining was made of immaculate white cushion and veil, ethereal peace was written all over her. The dream maker lay flat on her back, as a gentle smile played on her lips and her eyes closed gently like a queen entranced in a sweet delightful dream.
During her lifetime, MEE was elegant. She lived well and dressed well. In death, she was not different, dressed in a cream-coloured, cotton skirt- suit with a pair of cream shoes to match. Her hands stretched by her sides, her hair was patterned in the characteristic MEE style, and the strands of grey hair dotting her forehead shone like a dust of gold.
As a top journalist, one would have expected to see a pen and a notebook enclosed in MEE’s coffin, as souvenirs from the terrestrial plane she bestrode like a colossus. Sadly enough, none of that was included in her costumes. Which makes you wonder, if, at all they work in heaven whether she would still practice journalism, her first love.