Crying More Than The Bereaved
Ancient customs girded the Harbinger of Death
by Chukuemeka Akpe
In loin cloth, hairy barrel chest and a husky voice.
Taboo is deaf to the hip-swinging trump of death,
Scowling and seething at all infringing trespassers.
Inebriated elders, as proxy referees, award a penalty
To appease famished stomachs and parched tongues.
Tradition beckons on the dead from all foreign lands,
To make their beds in the soft native soil of their birth
To enrich the earth with the treasures of strange climes
To commune with uncles, aunties and sisters unknown
To be the reason for a fête for hollow-cheeked youths
To act as magnet for urbane offspring repelled by lores.
Canopied clans, congregated from nooks and crannies,
Are gender segregated but harmonized in their pretense:
Revere the pilgrim reviled and ridiculed on his journey
Sympathize with the companion treated with contempt
Empathize with the brood maligned for their aloofness
Invoke the wrath of the gods with kola-tainted smiles.
Minister riled and rites derided by venerators of effigies
Brewed up a mess in a cauldron of absurdities for attention:
Hue and cry over the bearded corpse by clean-shaven men
Spousal sacrament by fetish priests to forever rend asunder
Coerce detachment of the crown of glory by coarse razors
Ignored. A litany of taboos recited by an oracle of the gods.
Desecration hideously masked by ignorance as last Respect:
Lurching pallbearers staggered sons, daughters and friends
To tan his casket with the scorching stare of the clansmen
Chanting and stomping with fervency to cold indifference.
Coffin doused with sacred drink to inflame a brother’s love
And the purse of the dead laden with currency of the living.