A Candle in the Wind

I’ve seen people dying. Not the poetic kind of death; the in a blink type of death, I’ve seen people actually “dying”; Slowly; Gradually. As their souls begin to cave in, giving in, to the tempting idea that death is a fate much better than this. I’ve seen souls waver and get extinguished before bodies gave in, like candles in the wind, not knowing where to cling on to. Hope? Or faith? Be it what it is, there’s not even enough to keep the flame up. I’ve seen families watch their loved ones dying. Seen them run out of possiblies and the only hope they have left is “I hope not today” cause it’s only a matter of when. Thin sand slipping through the fingers like… what life is all about; the romance of time; which is that we haven’t got enough of. It’s given to us all in different portions but no one knows how much?

Death has become my all-consuming obsession. If I could borrow a line from Hamilton cause a page would be too much; I imagine death so much it feels more like a memory.

The destroyer of all that is tasteful, as they call it is also the one that builds the person for who they truly are. Who they truly were. You go through life having different scenes with different people and it’s only in death that the whole picture comes together, on who you were at the core and the rest is consigned to oblivion as you will be by then. No wonder they say if you are to take someone as an example let them not be from the living cause the living can always falter. It’s only after you’re gone, when you’re free from that.

With that said, the whole idea of living is to be in preparation for death. It’s irresponsible how most of us go through life ignoring death until we can’t anymore, when the philosophy of the two is intertwined. They do not exist on opposite ends of a spectrum if there is one but meet immediately where the sidewalks end, at the boarder of truth and this illusion which is life.

Now I’ve seen people going through the process; of dying, with respect to being struck by the emperor of maladies. And it happens all the same. You start dying when you lose hope. When the people around you are fighting for you more than you are for yourself. Death slowly creeps in through the tips of your fingers numbing you from feeling. And your soul crawls into a corner awaiting whatever’s coming. The mouth retires as the body starves itself wanting to get on with it fast, making the eyes blank, fully pale, drained of all signs of life. And the long wait begins.

You watch the people closest to you full of hope but at the same time lacking. Overwhelmed with sympathy after having exhausted all that they could do, and having nowhere left to turn. These are the moments when your life in all its vastness fits onto a slide and deep down you know you could have done so much more.

I’ve seen people dying and trust me, it’s not pretty. You age forward but backwards at the same time. The body withers and now it’s time for the ones you took care of to take care of you. I imagine that a lot goes through the mind then but you mostly think of what’s important; family and how you wish you’d have spent more time with them, among other regrets of the dying like; have I done enough? And truly, you haven’t. 

I believe our job here is to really cut down on regrets. Whether you get to die, and a good death in that matter, which is what I pray for us all or god forbid suffer the affliction of dying, fewer regrets are what strengthens the spirit as you go out with a fight. 

So, while you’re alive, be rain, giving life to everything that comes your way, alleviate people’s pain, smile at them more, just live for the benefit of people. Our time here is limited and we have no idea how much we have left. Whatever it may be, make it count for something. 

We’ve got so much work to do.

Cancer, Death, experiences, Live well, Requiems, survival, time


Hassan Kassim

Hassan Kassim is a Mombasa-based Creative non-fiction writer, recently longlisted for the Toyin Falola prize, blogger and translator of Kiswahili work. A beneficiary of the Penpen program by African Writers Development Trust(AWDT) commissioned by Culture at Work Africa and the European Union(E.U), and holds his Bachelor’s degree in Maritime Management. Hassan writes about the ill-documented Communities of Coastal Kenya. His work has appeared in Writers Space Africa; his 2 non-fiction stories published in the anthology 'Twaweza,' a collaborative effort of 12 African writers on the African identity and set to appear in the forthcoming anthology for the Toyin Falola prize.

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Hassan Kassim is a Kenyan-based Creative non-fiction writer, blogger and translator of Kiswahili works with over 2 years of experience. A beneficiary of the Penpen program by African Writers Development Trust(AWDT) commissioned by Culture at Work Africa, and holds his Bachelor’s degree in Maritime Management.

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