ONE MUST DIE DRESSED
“You must die dressed so that you won’t shame yourself in the afterlife, there are billions of honorable people there and perhaps, your in-laws you know?”
About four hundred nautical miles off the Coast of Ghost Island; far removed from the eyes of the blind sun, lays the ruins of an ancient city state, a once sophisticated mega city in the whole terrestrial globe, the land where rivers ran honey, milk and sweety things of all sorts. A prosperous history of a gigantic cultivation, the myth of the book city where men took forever to die, the land of the well celebrated lives, the home of the transmigrants, the finders of the lost constitution, a beautiful mountainous country, a better place every human being dreamt of visiting at least once in a life time. Beautiful beaches, delicious cuisine, charming hospitality and economic superiority of the territory made it the most envied republic in the whole firmament; the material one, and the other one.
For a university student taking history or literature; it would have taken him forever to graduate without an A in the course of the legacy of the Great Republic. Modern mathematics, oceanography, spiritualism, music and all the sciences owes their origin from there. Very great it was; the city that ruled the land, air and water long time back even before the rise of the great Egyptian civilization, before Incas, Mayan, Mesopotamian, Indus, Chinese, Nubian, Great Zimbabwe, Mali, Ghana and even before the birth of modern republics and kingdoms.
When Nebuchadnezzar of the Great Babylonian Empire conquered the city of Jerusalem, and the triumph of Alexander the Great and his dream of ruling the world which never came true, the King of Nopinia made his own prophecy and reinterpreted Daniel’s even before the birth of Daniel himself. Long time back even before the Great Exodus; far back before the Ark, very far before Sodom and Gomorrah, that city of gold, diamond and very rare earth metals was at its peak.
The main entrance gate to the city was a book, and no mortal man dared to pass through it alive, only the souls entered the gate and so no living man ever entered and came back. But life in there was the future of the living world outside the book. It was the land of magic at the time of magic, where wizards and witches of the first order ruled for life. One day inside the book was almost a century in the living world; a child from the book was as old as a dead man deceased several millennia ago. Nopinia it was called, it bordered Romata from the South, and Yellow Dove Island from the North West. It was wiped off the World Map during the Reign of the Psychopaths, and this story is the only living map to the gate and I must tell you this; the city is in our hearts and as long as we live, even after we have gone to ashes and dust, the city will always be there because out of it, everything came into existence. Words falling on deaf ears…
Children were sleeping already and an old man never realized that he was just talking to himself; the man himself was talking without knowing which words were coming out of his little mouth full of potatoes and milk. The tray was almost empty, only a single potato was remaining, very little one, from a very close watch, some jiggers were coming out of it; an old man grabbed it and swallowed it without chewing because it was very little, he enjoyed the belching after consuming the delicious fatty jiggers. Very sleepy he was... very sleepy. The rain gods smiled the whole night, but he never bothered, he continued although no one was listening. He was talking to the sleeping children, just like lecturing an empty hall, words falling on deaf ears...
During weekends and yearends; the place was flooded with tourists and whores from all the galaxies, and during holidays and summer vacations students from different universities and high schools over crowded the restaurants and the hotels. During the night, the spirits from the land of the dead rebelled against their fate and forced themselves to enjoy the portion of the living; the greedy spirits, all the time, they thought of their already married wives on earth, the wives that bothered no more about them. Because a woman cherishes her husband most when still she can feel the touch of his muscular arms over her rhombus waist; extremely busy chopping off the rough edges of the lozenge pouch, at his back, the wallet is coercively drained by the nimble-fingered sweetheart.
For sure, it was the most beautiful destination in the world. One day, one evening, in fact, one very stupid evening, a very stupid thought popped in my brain and I told my friends to hire a boat to take us there; it was the most stupidest idea of all time, the wizened stupidity that resulted into the enlightenment of the dimming light. The great illumination; they agreed and we scheduled to sail the next day. Because it was a bit far, we telephoned the boatman to know how long the voyage will take. The marine guy answered two days; we departed to our homes and prepared for the take off.
I was so happy and delighted to sail across the great Nopinian Sea; it was going to be my maiden voyage; so I took all the stuffs needed for the voyage including the binoculars, juices, goggles, bites, a diary and a life jacket. My mother reminded me to take a bible but I forgot to take it because I was not used to read it most of the time. I preferred adventure novels to sacred scriptures.
At the dawn we meet near the roundabout just opposite the Justice Road Children’s Park, we hired a taxi and the motor man drove off up to Pink Shadow Harbour. Around 6:30 a.m we left the Blue Olympus Cape and sailed eastward. It was the longest safari in my life; we reached our destination on the fifth of August, 1949. At the time, the Chinese Communist Revolution was almost on its peak. The world already suffered from two large scale wars and yet, it was during the consolidation of the cold war (1947-1991)
We took a rest and spent our night at the Ruingate Heritage Resort, popularly known as RHR. We met other students from our college there, they arrived two days ago and they were sickened by the Falciparum malaria. They died the same night, worries and fear penetrated into our iron hearts but we didn’t succumb to the threat. We took it easy and simple, during the morning we buried them just outside the resort because there was no alternative. The boatman was nowhere to be seen and the attendants there at the resort suddenly disappeared.
We packed our luggage and wandered across the Island, after a couple of paces, I turned around only to find that even the resort was all fabrications. What I saw was a huge stone with the words written “HE WHO WISHES TO LIVE MUST DIE FOR THE SAKE OF LIFE”. What the hell? Screamed Olympia, “Help Help! Help!” she cried bitterly. O My God! What happened? Asked Gilbert, I don’t know, I can’t feel my legs, I’m dying... where’s Tony? He was here, I saw him just now. Call him for me please, am dying guys... Gilbert remained speechless for a couple of minutes; he fell down at last, screaming like an old caterpillar, his mouth full of foam and blood. He was dying for sure, poor Gilbert, he died in great pain.
I remained standing there with my arms akimbo, not knowing what to do; I cried and grieved bitterly, the island was cool and quiet. The sound of the waves ashore, water ducks and drakes shadowed the surface of the Eastern Nopinian Sea; the sharks and the dolphins beautified and terrified the atmosphere. The photogenic view and the landmarks attracted even the spirits. Jackals and the snakes inhabited the caves and the bushes; at that particular moment, I felt the fire burning inside my little heart.
Thunderbolt roared across the skies of the island and the dust from the ruins poured the ground like millet; owls and falcons made it scarier, I remembered what my mother told me, she insisted to take the word of God with me, but I neglected. I wandered here and there looking for Tony, looking for any human being, but I saw nothing. The shades of darkness were penetrating sliver by sliver from the eastern horizon, as the sun went down; the giant mosquitoes came out and sucked the blood of all the living things including themselves.
I sat down near the Coconut tree and wept helplessly, poor me! I cried. Is this really happening? I asked, “Are you talking to me?” The voice from the other side chanted interrogatively as that gigantic flaming star was hurrying to hide its big eye at the back of the mountain.
“Who are you?” I asked majestically hoping to hear the voice of Tony or another human being on the island; “Welcome to my planet little human, do not worry about your friends, they’re having their dinner right now, you may join them if you wish”. Where are they? Follow the sound of my voice, when you hear the drums and the horns, stop, take off your clothes and bow down, close your eyes and you will be there; for how long? I asked, soon enough, he responded.
One, two, three... eight, nine, ten... I counted the seconds and the minutes as I was waiting for the drum beats. At a far distance I heard the shouts in a foreign language, the drums and the shakers accompanied with the horns and the flutes. I bowed down and found myself amidst the band of the tribesmen giant like the hybrid gods; dancing traditional songs vigorously, at the same time roasting humanoid animals. Some were eating trees and stones, others were reciting an old native poem, and the lyrics terrified my soul:
Let Them Come
Let them come because they must go
Let them eat and drink for toilet they’ll go
Let them think because they never reason
Let them die accused of high treason
Let them question this and answer that
Let them crowned kings those little brats
Let them talk and talk through their own hat
Let them try now if they have the guts
They tied my limbs with nylon ropes and hanged me like a bush meat to be roasted, another one came and untied me, he ordered to put on my clothes; I said “Thank you Jesus” which Jesus are you thanking huh? He asked tyrannically, then he changed the ropes with those of metal wire and he said, “Let now Jesus descend from the heaven and save you, pathetic!” Do we look like humans? He asked and I came to the conclusion that they really wanted me to die.
“You must die dressed so that you won’t shame yourself in the afterlife, there are billions of honorable people there and perhaps, your in-laws you know?” I screamed bitterly like a child, but nobody cared, and I told them that I’m still a student, I was suppose to go for a PhD in Canada by next year, and so I must live, but nobody really cared. As I was still standing upright tied, waiting to be roasted, the trees and the earth beneath my feet trembled, the lightning and thunderbolt roared across the sky, the stones begun to fall from the mountain, followed by an earthquake.
As I was waiting to see the end of that scene, I saw the dead coming out of their graves, walking like zombies and vampires. On my left hand side there was a huge tombstone, there was a man standing on top of it, his face was full of scars and holes, he was smiling at me, gazing at me as if he wanted to say “long time no see”.
The tribesmen ran away and disappeared to nowhere; I was trembling like a man driving a tractor, shaking like a generator or a man suffering from the Parkinson’s disease. I almost died of hypertension and a sudden cardiac arrest. My underwear was already wet, and in a twinkling of an eye the man was walking towards me, atop his head were the two horns emitting dark smoke and sparks, huge like a dinosaur, his moustache like an ancient Indian Banyan.
The skeleton in a Masonic suit, he was after my blood and I could not allow such a thing to happen. I ran away only to find myself inside his dirty coat of many colors, inside that coat, I met the man who introduced himself as the late president of the Federal Republic of Nopinia, the name of that ancient city state which former glory and civilization rest underneath the ruins and the sea.
What are you doing in my country? He asked, was killing me not enough to quench your thirst for power? He asked again. I felt the fire burning inside my little heart, I felt dizzy as I was walking towards the road of unconsciousness. What are you talking about? I asked, I killed who, when, where, how and for what? Stop pretending you idiot, don’t think me a blind. You killed your own friend, and here you are, you demon incarnate! Come out now... stop pretending to be an innocent student. I thought of deceiving him that I am dead but there was no such a time to pretend, thank goodness I was able to faint.
Do not faint little rabbit, the time to avenge my death has come; you pretended to be the usher, and those guys used your little brain to deceive you that I am the one who can bring good fortune when am out of existence and you believed them. They told you that mankind want to live forever, but you failed to reason how can a mortal man walk out of his mortal body? So you must consider this day to have dawned as your last.
Let me don’t waste much time and just kill you. You cannot kill me; I spoke in turn as a defensive mechanism. You are dead, so go back to your grave where you belong; I am commanding you to go to hell and suffer longer in Jesus name, Amen!
Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! “Clapping his hands”, you are very clever; so you know even how to summon the immortals huh? Hey Mr. Nicholas W.W.W (War, Wine & Women), the victory of the people, so you are commanding me to go to hell, and where is the hell anyway? Have you been there before? Come here you little chameleon, die! He grabbed my neck like a monster and killed me as simple as cutting a warm butter.
Inside that coat there was a book, an old book with old yellow pages; the book was entitled “The House of Broken Hearts”. When I peeped on it, I saw something like a door, it opened and a hand came out of it and grabbed me. I found myself inside the book and found life terrifying in there. After a couple of seconds, I was at the heart of Romata, outside a golden mansion with an electrified fencing system. At the gate there was a huge sign board reading “WE RUN THIS CITY” I decided to join the runners. But I was not having any physical form, nobody saw me. So I hunted for the human body to dwell in. I stood at the town square, roundabouts and clock towers finding a clean body.
At last there was a school boy riding a bicycle towards a bookshop and I was impressed with his spirit and tender body. He was going to buy the book, the same book that he was dwelling on. I transmigrated into him calmly and the boy took me home and several years passed, as the boy grew, I grew up too. When the boy met with his first love, to me she was my four hundredth girlfriend. Ha ha haaa! The children laughed, they just woke up after hearing the figure that grandpa mentioned. Go back to your dreams? Grandpa insisted, but children never wanted to sleep again, they just hated the beginning, they just wanted a happy ending. With their eyes wide opened, they asked an old man; what was the name of your first girlfriend? Tell us Grandpa, tell us please!
Now listen my grandchildren, the name of the first girl was Anita Martin, the second was Sophia Herman Tungi and the third was Senorita (Maria Rodriguez) from Mexico. The boy was very hot, charming and handsome. He wanted to date all the girls in town and I became part and parcel of his life. He even changed his name “Ferdinand” and answered mine; “Nicholas” and he became immortal, and yet he lived a mortal life. WOW! Children applauded, the old man continued... Now go back to sleep, it’s almost morning. We want the dawn of the new day to find us awake grandpa, after all, it’s already another day, another dawn. We won’t eat or drink till the end of the story, yeah!
Now that you will be fasting, prepare to die the next morning, because five days are remaining to finish the story, and normally at the end of the story, one man must die. It’s either the narrator or the listener. Just tell us the story grandpa; after all we are all going to die one day, it’s better to die knowing, than to live a very long life ignorant of the meaning of life. We want to die knowing, just tell us grandpa... So an old man continued the next day, it was day two.