The seventh death is often painless. I have no idea why mine hurts so much. I’ve been through this severally, the suffocating emotion like being squeezed in a box. The anger mixed with shame sprinkled with regret. I always die with the same last words “I should have known better”.
I try to remember my previous deaths in no particular order, my job, the boy with brown eyes, the baby cot with silver blankets, the man in the black caftan, father’s grey hair that wouldn’t cover his disappointed eyes.
My seventh death stared at me through teary eyes, vodka and a cocktail of pills in hand. I tried to comfort Efe, my closest friend since college. She kept gulping and swallowing hard, talking about how she had nothing. She was shivering from anger, shame, and a mixture of both. I stood there watching perplexed, almost embarrassed.
“Efe, calm down” I tried to wrap my hands her shoulder, I held her waist
“It is well” I continued, when all fails I convert back to Christianity; never mind that I advocated Buddhism several hours ago.
“Ade, you wouldn’t understand” she spat, almost venomously “life has been rough, and I cannot tell you enough what that bastard has done to me, you wouldn’t understand” she threw herself out of my grip
“I’ve lost everything” tears trickled down her cheeks falling on her deep purple lace blouse. On some other day when we’re both smiling, I plan to ask where she bought it. Now I just count tear drops trickling down
One, two, three
“I’m sorry I didn’t mean it like that, about you not understanding” Efe let me hold her.
“It’s okay” I barely whispered.
I knew she meant to hurt me a little, to pierce my bubble of passivity on relationship matters. She said “you wouldn’t understand” only because she was hurt and I will never understand her pain. I not understanding meant I was unmarried and without a sick baby boy. I didn’t know what it meant to suckle a child in the hospital while my husband ate cherries off prostitute’s nipples. I didn’t understand the profundity of raising your own family. I will never understand why you had to forgive a husband 2 other girlfriends and a child outside marriage. I will not suggest divorce again to Efe today; it will come up 4 years later when her firstborn son dies, when I’m laying flowers on her coffin.
Efe died of a drug overdose the next day. I too died my seventh death.