Precious Akinkuolie: I’m scared to die [Nigerian Voices]

by Precious Akinkuolie

Every morning I tell myself I don’t mind dying anytime as long as I make heaven. I make up images of me boldly standing up to criminals telling them about Christ’s love and sacrifice at the face of death, not minding whether they kill me. An intrepid sacrifice for God and the gospel just like the apostles and early disciples.

With this resolve, I also denied the existence of that sharp little pain in my chest. I do not care what it is and if it kills me, I tell myself, making heaven is what matters.

However, I came across a write up I previously read last year about a girl who lived in self denial until she finally died. I could see myself in that write up but I told myself I was different, I’m not scared of death.

Last night I decided to tell my mom after over a year.

Blurred images; tears, hugs, drugs, anti stress tea, sleep, hospital the next morning.

This is my third time in a hospital for myself; first when I was born, then when I had to do some mandatory tests before I could be admitted into a college secondary school and finally now.

Typical Nigerian hospital – queues, sick looking people, lots of old people.. Urrrh! I hate hospitals.

While waiting, I realized how bad things were for the average Nigerian. Personally, the tomato scarcity, fuel hike as well as the rise in the price of commodities haven’t really affected me. But hearing the sad awful tales by the waiting women of how broke they were and how things were really hard for them made my tummy cringe. One claimed her family slept without eating the night before and I was all pissed at Buhari, his failed promises and his indifference to the plight of these average poor people. Archetypal Yoruba women, they tried to lure me into the conversation by constantly looking at me and smiling, expecting me to say something. Coupled with my own life troubles and my awkwardness with older people, I stared at my phone and acted uninterested.

I remember last night I was grumbling about my junior brother’s chicken being thrice mine simply because it was his birthday, and someone here didn’t even eat to sleep. (S/O to my little brother – Happy birthday in arrears)

It all left me more depressed than I already was and I was truly relieved to leave the outer queue for the inner waiting room.

Here, I learnt the enormity of the word “Mo gbe”. I’m not absolutely sure of the translation but it should mean something like “I’m dead or I’m doomed”

We use this word when our phones fall and we’re not sure whether the screen broke yet.

Or when we realize after an exam that we didn’t answer a compulsory question because we didn’t read the instructions well.

An absolute misapplication of that terrible word.

Apparently, when a person screams Mo gbe after a doctor relays the news as to the status of his loved one in an hospital, you truly understand what it means to be doomed or dead.

By inclination, I hardly pay attention to things around me; we can be together all day and after you leave I might not even remember the hairstyle you wore or the colour of your dress. But this I remember vividly.. She was on pink shirt and a long black skirt with flares underneath, a short and robust woman. I saw a true reaction of a person to the news of the death of her loved one (shame on Nollywood).

She screamed, tore, rolled and cried. Neither the nurses or the security could stop her. The dreadful word Mo gbe kept resounding in the waiting room.

I needed a hug at that moment, my closest experience with grief. Everyone looked solemn and people shook their heads, of course some looked unperturbed. An old woman beside my mom was shivering and my mom was trying to explain to her that she wouldn’t die and the deceased was probably seriously sick.

I hugged myself instead.

I realized then that even though I wasn’t scared of death, I didn’t want any of my loved ones to go through such heartache because of me. I was glad I spoke up about my pain.

Few minutes later a young man walked in. T-neck shirt with white stripes and different shades of blue, he had this confidence on his face screaming, “I’m ready for anything. Nothing will faze me right now, I stand strong”.

As he walked into the room where the deceased was, I could hear the sounds of his screams from the waiting room. I heard a grown man crying because of death.

I hugged myself even tighter

The closest thing to death I’ve felt was when my grandma died and a little girl on my street.On both occasions, I forced myself to cry. I was never close to my grandmum, she was just that old woman with full white hair who bought me nice dresses and asked how school was whenever we go visiting. The young girl was a really nice kid on my street who greeted me every time she saw me. She had this amazing smile and was really hyperactive. She died in a fire accident allegedly trying to wake up her sleeping grandfather. I felt pretty awful about their deaths but then I had to force out tears by conjuring up the image of their faces in my head and moments we spent together – a loyal tribute to them.

Now I know I’m really not ready to die. I would still preach the gospel proudly to any criminal at gunpoint and try to convert him anytime any day, yet I don’t want anyone to go through so much pain for me. I’ve learnt to value my presence and existence to those who love me.

Well, about the hospital visit, had to do some really serious tests and the result would be out on Monday. I sincerely hope I don’t die like the girl in the self denial writeup. I hope I’m fine and the pain was just in my head. I hope I learn to remain grateful.

This entry was submitted as part of the Nigerian Voices competition organized by

We publish, un-edited, Nigerians telling the stories of their everyday lives. Read all the narratives daily on the Nigerian Voices vertical. You can also contribute your own story titled ‘Nigerian Voices’ to [email protected].

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