Written by: Victorine Ndinda
Follow her on Twitter: @victorinendinda
Every morning when going to work I pass through two coffin making shops. They are on adjacent sides so it’s hard not to notice them. The first day I saw the one on the upper side, I was really spooked! I don’t even know how I made it to the office. What kept going through my mind was if it was legal for the shop to be in the middle of a street, where people pass by when going to work and back to their homes every day and where children pass by when going to school. I remembered some time back when Charity Ngilu was the then Minister for Health had outlawed such business being situated at the entrance of hospitals (come to think of it, how distressing must it have been for patients and their relatives?). I wondered how different this was from that, even though they were not located anywhere near a hospital. To make matters worse for me, there was even a hearse just outside the shop! So you can imagine my shock that evening when I realised there was a similar shop, on the opposite side, with a hearse too!
The first week of work was really traumatising for me, understandably so. Here I was, a fresh graduate with a first class to her cap, and barely a month after clearing I was working with a very prestigious organisation, not to mention getting a really hefty salary. I felt that life couldn’t get any better for me. Then on my first day to work, I see about a dozen coffins. Now you understand my plight, right?
Death is a topic that only a brave few can comfortably talk about. I, of course, don’t form part of that rarely unique group. In my whole lifetime, I have attended three funerals (the first two were mandatory for us as students, the last one was for a friend’s relative). To me, it has to be the finality of it; the anguish, heartache and suffering it brings, not to mention the process of dying. The only dead body I have seen was in a casket. I always vowed to my mother that even if I got an A+, I would never take medicine as an option in the university. Never mind that I never got the grade anyway.
Over the weeks however, it stopped bothering me. I started noticing other things around me on my way to work. Like the many mad men I would see every morning scavenging for food in a damp site. One particular incident however changed my thinking radically. It was of a woman taking her young handsome son to a nearby nursery, some metres after the coffin shops. The young boy, on reaching the school gate, turned and waved merrily to his mother and said ‘bye mummy’ as he ran to join the other kids. Something catched at my throat and for a moment I felt like crying. Maybe it was a womanly instinct. But all I know is that that day onwards, the sight of those coffins never bothered me anymore.
I realised that yes, death is a terrible reality constantly stalking us every second of every day. But what is the use of having to worry over something that you can’t change? There is so much more in life. I am a young woman, I hope to get my own handsome kid one day too, maybe three, and be married to a wonderful man. But if I feared death, it’d be like sentencing me to a prison. Death may have a lot of negativity in it, but like everything else in life, there were some positives. To the Christian, and most people I believe, it means that one day all the struggles we go through will one day come to an end. Death equalizes us all. I am no different from the mad men I pass by every morning seated eating unspeakable stuff by the dumping site, or the richest man on earth, or the wisest man, or the most beautiful woman. When it comes to death, we are all equal. No one has beaten death, no matter the myths, fables and stories we hear or read about. Only Jesus, who was God, was able to beat death in history of mankind. And whether you believe in Him or not, you cannot deny that death exists.
Those coffins symbolised death, but that day, that beautiful young boy represented life. I chose life.
- Meet the Author: Victorine Ndinda (literarychronicles.wordpress.com)