Last week was one unforgettable week.It was full of the heaviest of emotions and memories of a man who was a pillar in many people’s lives. I knew him beacuse he is my uncle, but there are those that know him better, as a father and others as a brother. The towers of strength one may have built overtime after the news of his demise came tumbling down like Babel at the sight of his still, suited up body. They say he had rested from his pain that escorted him rather forcefully to another dimension of life. Mr. Clement Kaula is his name. The popular society knew him simply as Kaula.
I was standing next to my elder brother in a church last week on Thursday. It was 8.49am. He was in a black suit and a white shirt. I wore all black without a tie. I was pocketting, for lack of a better posture. We stood on a queue among other mourners; that went round the shiny-grey caskette in the middle of the mini hall. Yes everyone was in a black outfit. It sure did spell out the mood of the time. But there was something more pronounced than the sea of black claddings – a dark cloud of silence. This was one of those rare moments that human beings keep silence without being told or without having a gun pointed on their heads. The look on people’s faces told tales of what they felt inside – trying to keep themselves together not to break down. Though even the strongest at heart did spare a tear or two later on.
We watched as the sons took the first honours to view what was left of their father. All faces went down when we heard a sob from one of them. The sight of the body that once carried the living soul of their father triggered the most sensitive parts of their conscience and sub-conscience. It was understandable. No amount of weeping can ease off the pain of a loss such as that.
The queue moved steadily. I could also feel the pressure of a sob at the knick of gashing out. I avoided looking at people’s faces for too long. Emotions are highly communicable you know? It was my turn on the queue. I had agreed with myself that I wanted to take a not so long- but – sure glance of what used to be a cheerful but calm – figure of my uncle. I walked on with my head down. I could tell I looked confused, but I was only struck by the lightning of disbelief.
I could not stop thinking of what I had just seen as I took my seat among the reserved ones for family and relatives. The late is an elder brother to my mother and a sibling to sixteen others. Yea, it’s a big family enough to create a company with the members as the workers. I began on a silent quest in a boardroom in my head to unravel all I can about life and its biggest mystrey, death. It’s a maze of revelation on just how life slips of the courier of it. Just how vulnerable we are to life’s grim reaper. Just how short life is. I had someone say later that day that death is a guarantee after birth. I settled at something, that if life is lived meaningfully, then death will be more meaningful than it is thought to be.
I flashed back to the last time I spoke to the late. It was on a phone call when he was in the U.S. where he passed on a month and two weeks later. Today that phone call means everything he was to me and to the rest of my cousins who were present to speak to him as well. I replayed our conversation, allowing every word he spoke to seamer in with the honourable escort of the tone on his voice. He knew my passion for journalism and for the last time, encouraged me to pursue it. How about the last time I was with him face to face? It was in a church conference. I happened to be seated next to a chair that was initially his, but was occupied by another after he left to repsond to a nature call. I stood up quickly to give him my chair. His ailment was evident at sight by then. But now, who knows where he is now in the endless fields of this universe?
I smiled abit when I remembered my father testify sometime ago of how Clem, as he is called by his family, played the role of a father to his sister- now my mum, during their wedding. Otherwise, I couldn’t be in existence today. Maybe you’d be reading some other mjangos who write political crap or sassy issues. The MjangoSeries thanks God for Uncle Clem manzeh.
The memorial service began with a worship session. The songs were specially chosen for the occassion, in memory of a man who died in faith. Like what music naturally does, it evoked the deepest of emotions from the multitudes who had gathered. Of course we all understood that our beloved was on the journey to eternity hence we should be happy and grateful for him. However, that could not stand in between our human nature that has been stabbed on the chest and had a vital piece of our hearts – our beloved; plucked out by the inevitable of life. I could not sing aloud. When I tried to, a spring of tears would find an open way out. When I opened my eyes, I realised it was the same for almost everyone and more to others than I’d ever thought. What other outlet does a human being have to express sorrow other than sobbing? And I mean a genuine kind of sorrow. I have to make that clear because a part of me comes from western Kenya where mourners are hired to mourn on the bereaved’s behalf. Would you call that genuine?
The late’s wife, grown-up sons and daughter had a hard time giving their tribute. Re-countering the best of times they shared ‘when Dad was alive’ as they put it. Having had the chance to speak to him for the last time and perhaps say their goodbyes was not consoling enough. It was without doubt that he had impacted their lives so much. They spoke of how calm he was, wise and full of faith. He took his time with everyone and led by example. They quoted his favourite statements over and over again. He loved God more than anything else. He was and still is their hero.
Many more stood up to testify of how the late was their way to Christ and sense of life. He hosted many in his house and became a second father to them all.
I was enlightened at the end of the service, that there is more to life than that we can merely see. Value people more than anything.
On Friday, all roads led to his home in Ngoto village, Sultan Hamud for the funeral. The massive turn out of people from the locality and beyond was a testimony in itself of how the late Kaula was of value in the lives of many.
We watched as he was lowered in a well furnished hole on the ground at the yard of his house. Near there was a small tree that I planted with him two years ago. He said to me at that time, “Do things like this that will remain for ages even after you are gone. Don’t rush for things which have a temporary glory.”
I stuck my white flower at the bed of his grave and whispered under my breath, “It is well, uncle. It is well…”