For two days he mourned his forebear like a devoted son would his father. The crowing cock was redundant, for Young Man was up at dawn, sobbing and keening. On the third day, the men of Umunbe arrived in a flint-faced delegation six-man strong. They came with a wheel-barrowed gourd of day-old palm wine and said not a word until it was empty, then Old Man put away his drinking horn and said – in a voice gone guttural from a single-minded dedication to his muse, he said – ‘You have wept enough!’ he cried, ‘Your father was eighty! Yes, he was six years younger than I, but he was old enough to go! And where has he gone anyway? – Did he not drink the libation I poured on this very hearth ten minutes ago? When a man his age dies, you don’t mourn him with tears, you mourn him with wine. Let it flow, Young Man, buy the cows for slaughter! Buy the barns of yam! Send your women to cook and your men to tap more wine. If you cry any more than this, mark my words, Umunbe will think you lack the means with which to bury your Pa.’

3 Replies to “A Portrait of The Funeral as Feast”

  1. Su'eddie says:

    And in those words I remembered Achebe but the voice was distinct – it was Chuma Nwokolo Jnr’s.
    Part of a whole I would guess. This is a path you have traveled oft in shorts and longs. This portrait captures the whole scene.

    Reply
  2. Kike says:

    I remember reading this with a wry smile; I read it yet again with better understanding of one walking in these shoes at the moment. It is indeed a feast; one I cant wait or the morn after!

    Reply
  3. Chuma Nwokolo says:

    My condolences for your loss, Kike.
    Literature often brings us these mirrors of recognition.
    This, too, will pass.

    Reply

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