Imagine waking up dead. Wait that does not sound right. But imagine it anyway. And for some reason unknown to you; you find yourself on the staircase to heaven. You think that maybe it has something to do with that picture you liked a while back of a disabled kid and a needy caption. Or maybe refusing to add Fanta Blackcurrant to your whisky and eating your steaks well done; like they should be. But it could definitely that one time the conductor, crass and abrasive, rocking a stubble in the name of dreadlocks and a forsaken hairstyle; shoved change for a thousand into your hand when you had given a 100 bob note and before stuffing it into your pocket you called out at him. He snapped. Clicked. Short of flipping his struggling dreadlocks off his head. And you let him go; put the money in your pocket and smiled all the way to town.
For some reason, right next to Hitler, people that hate game of thrones and people who are too good for pineapple on pizza; God hates conductors. Explains why he gave them that ugly uniform, a uniform that follows them like a dark cloud everywhere they go. I am not even trying to make fun of their uniform but when was the last time you took anyone wearing a maroon suit seriously? You don’t even take them for granted. You know how we make fun of our brethren from the drier parts of the East? Them and their loud colors (Yellow and its various shades)? At least they don’t do Maroon. Anyone that shows up to a date in maroon is immediately written off as a joker. Methinks this is why some band was at a payphone trying to call home. Maroon. So not hate. Just facts. Imagine if they were the blue five? Short of sounding like a boring cop show it has a ring to it no?
Anyway as I re-digress. Made that up. Cool?
This past week I imagined myself waking up dead. My essence elegantly lifting away from my body like in the cartoons. Me looking back at myself sleeping. Which I have never done before; seen myself sleeping. So I am not sure how to escribe that. I don’t think I am a peaceful sleeper. So a smile is out of the question. I might laugh in my sleep, occasionally because even when dreaming I crack jokes. Or say something stupid. Like this one night I dreamt I was an angel on earth. Don’t look at me like that; I don’t know what’s up with these heavenly dreams of late. Might be my cue to go back to church. Anyway in this dream I could fly. Teleport. Talk to God. Literally in the dream I asked him to send clouds so I could fly naked. No shit. He did.
Back to dying.
I walk up the stairs to heaven. It is quiet. There’s so much gold and pearl lining the bannisters. It feels like I am going to the head pimps office. Fetty Wap is playing in the background and I’m thinking this might be a trap. Trap? Fetty? Wap? Queen? Ah. Okay. Anyway. So I get to the top of the stairs and there’s the gate. Lone shed at the left of it with some guy on an iPad. I think he is playing angry birds from the sounds that come from it. That or he is watching some really bizarre porn. I imagine this is Peter the Saint.
“What’s up?” I quip with a slight nod.
He eyeballs me.
Instinctively when people eyeball me I run my fingers around my beard then form a semi fist across my mouth. But you don’t really have to eyeball me. It can be anything really. Compliment me even. Tell me my dress looks nice. I am a girl like that. Haha.
Carefully he steps out of his shed. Calculated soft steps. Like he is afraid he will bruise the ground if he is too rash. Or maybe it is years of being in a quiet place where he uses clouds as pillows. At first glance he is slimmer than I’d imagined him. He looks like Kagame’s older brother. Tall. Lanky. Wrinkles dressing his skin. He doesn’t have a flowing white robe. Instead he has jeans. Denim. Skinny. Hanging onto his waist by the grace of (no, not God lol) a belt. Did I say Kagame? No he looks like Wiz Khalifa. A holier version.
“What would you do if you saw me ride a horse that’s on drugs?” he asked.
His voice was crisp. Almost like it was manufactured in a Sony lab. Almost like he was speaking directly to me. But it was weird because he did not look at me. It was like I was not even there. The weight of the question, its gravity, exaggerated by his presence.
“I guess I’d ask you to get off your high horse.”
He cracked a smile and cackled like his lungs harbored a warm fire.
“I should’ve seen that coming.” His shoulders shrugged almost like his hands were becoming too heavy to carry on his sides.
Slender hands that peeped out of a white dashiki.
A heavy silence punctuated my bad joke. As he browsed through his iPad. Seemingly unbothered by my presence. Or simply not caring. Then he looked up. The white of his eyes not really white but a faded gray.
“When you go in there you’re only allowed one question. You hear me?”
I tried to speak but he stopped me. With a wave. Like I was a waiter coming to ask if he was done with his meal. A fly hovering over his meal. An afterthought of a failed romance after healing from a heartbreak. Then he ushered me in.
“Good luck.” He whispered.
Now when you are on your way to meet God something about you changes. You don’t feel nervous. No it’s not a first date. There’s a little bit of anxiety yes. But what you have the most is expectation. You expect this shining deity in all white with a halo around the face, cherubs hanging off his hears playing the harp and whispering all these things into them. You expect him to speak and have the sound of Morgan Freeman cat walk its way out of his mouth and give you a big hug.
I walk in. Clean city. Streets. Some chaps hanging outside their golden porches. Sipping on holy grails. There’s happy chatter all around. No one even bothers to look at me. I start to think they can’t see me. That maybe those are the rules here. No one sees the newbie till the big guy himself sees them. So I trod along. Reach the end of the street. Not so much in awe but pleasantly content. I get to some big house at the end of the road. The whole place is set-up like those estates in Buru-Buru. Only there are no house numbers, instead of gates they have open pickets and there’s no the loud horns from graffiti painted matatus.
The doors open up automatically. At least that’s what I think. But then when I step into an expansive hall, tastefully decorated. Paintings hanging on the wall and windows draped in expensive curtains. I notice a butler partially behind one door. I chuckle to myself. Of course God would have a butler. If batman had one. God made batman. So… go figure.
“Right this way…” he signals.
I stop. Look at him for a minute. He has a funny face. He would make a good comedian by just standing in a dark hall, waiting for the lights to come on then saying “My face”.
“Is he in a mood today?” I ask
“Yes you know? Mood. Like did he wake up in the morning to a hoard of annoying prayer requests? Maybe some chap somewhere asked him to cure his hangover and that he would never drink again?”
“You mean like you?”
“Well not exactly like me. But yes. Like me.”
The guy chuckles. He is old. I wonder if people in heaven remain the same age they died. But I wouldn’t know since I don’t see any babies. His laugh is like a lawn mower refusing to start. It gurgles off into an unceremonious end. Then points towards a door. Brown with a smudged brass handle. There’s a sign on it “Who I am”. Lol. God. Sense of humor.
“Just walk in. Don’t knock.” The butler says as he disappears back into his position by the main door’s handle.
So now this is it. This is where your expectations are met. Those years back when you watched passion of the Christ have prepared you. You turn the brass handle and push the door in. Some bright light blinds you and as your eyes adjust a messy desk comes into focus. Papers spewed all across like they were killed in paper war 3. A chap with a large forearms sits behind the desk. On his thick wrists is a large face watch with brown leather straps. You stare at it for a minute and wonder if it is set to world time, heaven or hell. Or if it has a setting for all.
Finally my eyes adjust to the room. It is not as big as I thought. The desk fills the most of it. Behind the desk, a guy sits, clean cut. I appreciate the hair line. It is precise. A black t-shirt. Two words across it. “I am”. I chuckle.
“What’s funny?” he asks.
His voice isn’t what I expected. There’s no deepness in it. You could let kids swim when he spoke. He sounded like an August Alsina song. But it had an authority; so picture an August Alsina voice with a Rick Ross grunt. He has sunglasses on too. Must be the light.
“You’re not what I expected.”
“What did you expect?”
“I don’t know. Not this.”
“Why does this feel like a break up?”
He will feign a sad face. And watch me. I imagine he would have a crystal tumbler full of water.
“What do you fancy?”
“You probably know. Just pour me a glass.”
And in the glass you watch as the water turns into a golden brown liquid. You smell the smoked barrels off it as it hits the bottom of the glass. Whisky.
“Your question what’s it?” he will finally ask as he hands me the glass.
“I’ve been thinking about them all the way here.”
“Them? You are only allowed one.”
“Yeah. Sure. I only have one but it answers all.”
“Oh you’re one of the smart ones?”
“Maybe. You tell me.”
I take another sip. Look at my life. Look at life. Look at the world. Look within myself. Let the thoughts flood. Let out one deep sigh. Look at him raise an eyebrow.