The wake keeping service was held at the school assembly hall that Andrew and Tunde attended as kids. It was close to Andrew’s house so he got there earlier than most people. He watched as people walked in dressed in black, with long faces.
He recognized some of Tunde’s family members, but most of the people in the hall were unfamiliar faces. He still did’t want to believe his friend was gone. And the fact that his family had deiced to bury him a week after his death was weird to him. Why were they so much in a hurry to bury him? He thought to himself. He guessed they wanted to do it as fast and as quietly as possible to avoid the possible stigma that might get attached to the family.
As people got up to sing another song from the hymn book they had all been handed when they came in, two boys appeared from the back of the stage with a big placard. When they turned it around, it had a picture of Tunde on it, with a smile on his face. Tears rolled down Andrew’s face as he quietly walked out of the hall.
He stopped just outside the hall for a couple of seconds to take a few deep breaths before walking to the back of the building, towards the school’s football field. At the end of the south west part of the high school wall was a small rusted gate. Memories came flooding back; he could remember how he and Tunde used to sneak out of school sliding underneath the gate, and a smile appeared on his face.
He pulled out a lighter and his pack of Pall Mall cigarette from his back pocket. A stick of cigarette slipped out of his fingers as he picked it out of the pack and he caught it just before it dropped to the floor. He placed it between his parted lips and flicked the lighter. With his back to the wall, he took his first drag and let out a sigh of relief as he exhaled.
It was the long school holiday and the part of the school compound he was at hadn’t been tended to in a while, so there was grass up to his ankles where he stood. Crickets made chirping noises every now and then, but got quiet any time Andrew moved around.
A light went on in the upstairs apartment of the building opposite the school and Andrew turned around. A naked female silhouette from behind a curtain caught his attention. He took another drag from his stick of cigarette and focused on the figure. Just then he heard footsteps behind him and instinctively threw away the cigarette.
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He turned around and saw a curvaceous lady approaching him. He didn’t know if he was more ashamed that someone caught him smoking outside a wake keeping service, or that he was seen staring at a naked lady. It was dark and all he could make out was that the person had own a black gown with a silver belt around her midsection. He wondered why she was walking towards him. And then he heard her familiar voice say, “Andrew.”
“Wow!” That was all he could say for the first few seconds as he came into view.
“Sorry I made you throw away your cigarette.” She said and smiled up at him, which was slowly replaced by a sorrowful look.
“Wow! Anita, you look…” He was saying and stopped when he saw tears roll down her eyes. He took her in his arms and she cried.
“Why? Why did he do it?” She said between sobs.