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March 23, 2016
Monday Musings- Lessons From Garissa: A Year on From the Garissa Attacks
March 28, 2016

Paint a Saint

I hear Leonardo da Vinci, the sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, inventor, anatomist, writer, botanist, geologist, painter, jack of all trades, master of all, was such a genius that his master, Verrocchio laid down his brush never again to paint because of the superiority of a particular work that his apprentice had done. If he had made a portrait of what was walking towards me, I guess it would have been more popular than the Mona Lisa.

The young man strutted onto the grounds like a peacock, or better, some puffed up male turkey in rich black regalia. It was a heavy cloth, and if it had not been for the fact that he was putting up a show, I would have expected him to be crawling by the third step. I think he felt his attire qualified him to be some sort of royal with the smirk he had on his face. I imagined him sinking into the ground and how that expression would have been wiped off his face as the sudden realization hit him that all the weight he had piled on his body was the cause. I figured he weighed about a ton with his ahenema and beads in addition. Okay, that was an exaggeration but what I am going to say next isn’t; he looked like a total klutz with what he was wearing on his head. It looked like a hybrid of Santa’s hat and the pope’s mitre. Now this my best friend/side-kick had outdone himself.

So I said it straight to his face, “Herh! Are you here to cry or to show off yourself?” “Wrong in both circumstances, brother…” he answered grinning. “I am here with my cap of invisibility to sneak up on death and teach him a lesson, not to touch any member of my best friend’s family again.”

It was my grandfather’s funeral but I couldn’t help it, I burst into laughter… uncontrollable laughter. I laughed and laughed and laughed. I was sitting amongst the whole stretch of teary-eyed bereaved family members, but laughter refused to be held at bay. It was like a thousand birds were flying hard out of my mouth, I couldn’t close it, I just laughed till one of my uncles gave me a knock and sent me off the funeral grounds.


I didn’t only laugh because of the awkward way my friend had learnt to show his love, I laughed more because of the irony of his statement. He didn’t know that the cap of invisibility, if it ever existed, belonged to the god of the dead. How do you steal that until you are dead yourself? (unless some Athena comes your way with it). Halt man! Useless info! Back to the funeral proceedings –

My crazy best friend followed me along with all my shame but didn’t shut his mouth so I shut it for him. “How can you sneak up on death looking like a peacock? Even invisibility wouldn’t be able to hide you then.” He punched me. I punched him back. We kept punching each other until we heard the first tribute. The deadman’s first son was at the pulpit.

In my mind’s eye, I fast-forwarded myself years away to my own funeral. I imagined every tribute reader’s tongue touched by a drop from the phial of the truth so they could say nothing but the truth about my life. The mirror of the truth they’ll have spewed out about me will have forced my ghost into visibility. Trust me! And how I will have chased everyone away… I’ll have had a good laugh.

On a more serious note, that is probably why dead people are painted as saints at their funerals. My confidant tells me that a dead person cannot be talked about except in the best of lights (especially during the first forty days after his death and certainly not at his funeral). The consequences of that she doesn’t know, but she definitely isn’t going against it. I can try agreeing with her. However, I can’t see how that means painting our deceased into a ridiculous Da Vinci masterpiece of a saint complete with wings, a halo and a flowing snowy white frock through our tributes. That I can’t comprehend. Neither can I understand why families invest more in the funerals of their kin than their lives. But I wouldn’t talk too much; after all my voice is too small to make a difference in matters of ammamerԑ.

But if Prof. Kofi Anyidoho’s ‘cosmic high court’ is indeed real, I guess ghosts would be extremely happy to sue the living for dressing their corpses in flamboyant apparels of words that just wouldn’t fit them.

Author: Kwasi ‘Sei, threesixtyGh Writer