Fu’ad Lawal: How to write life into dead people

It’s another day. There are many sad emojis on your timeline. Someone has died. Someone young enough to have an internet life.

So you’re curious, or sober, but mostly curious than sober, because you’ve seen many deaths.

You find his Twitter, see the kinds of things he tweeted. See his friends and what they are saying.

Twitter is fine, but it’s never enough. So you check if he had Facebook. Friends are signing their RIPs on his Facebook wall, like a condolence register. You read the posts. Maybe they’re sad that they lost a friend, or that they have now meditated about their own deaths. You check his photo album. Photos from when he was much younger are there, sitting pretty. You wonder how long death stalked him before it finally struck.

You check Instagram. You see the kinds of photos he posted. You try to understand who he was from these tiny little things. You wonder if he posted few photos of himself because he thought, one day, someone is going to come looking when he’s dead.

You try to speak to his friends. You ask about the little things, like favourite foods, or last conversations. You ask about his hobbies, and dreams. You ask about his relationships, the people he loved. You ask till the questions almost become uncomfortable.

You’re going to be needing photos of the deceased. So you download them. For a fraction of a second, you feel like some sort of grave robber. You’d have asked for permission if he was alive.

You take only the best photos. You feel like a coroner preparing his guest for the journey to the afterlife. Wiring the jaws shut. Dressing them in their best clothes.

All the tiny specks of the deceased’s life you’ve collected, you put together, and build a mausoleum with it. You ignore the hesitation in some of the good things his friends said. You ignore the buts, because the best mausoleums are built with fine marble and rocks.

Now, you write. You write about his dreams, you re-enact his life in paragraphs. You reconstruct his ambitions in diction.

When you’re done, you read through again. Your beautiful depiction of his life makes his death feel like martyrdom.

You publish. Everyone who sees or hears of him, will feel something, and if you could check, you’d see the light of his life. He will live in their minds. If only for a few moments. They won’t think of his fears, or insecurities, like how he probably worried about bad breath when speaking to someone at close range.

When they are done, they’ll say, “eyya, such a beautiful soul taken at such a young age”.

Your editor will nod his head as he reads, as if he can taste the words on his tongue.

Perfect, he’ll say, perfect. “You captured his life really well.” You’ll smile a weak thank you smile.

Everyone deserves a chance at a perfect life after all.

Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

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