Tales From The Mausoleum
THE prayer on the lips of every human being is to live old
age and grey hairs. Even old people don’t want to die;
they are afraid of death like the youth.
This is the story of Pa Theophilus, who was a successful
Pa Theophilus was a honourable man. He was loved by all
and sundry. He was an encyclopaedia of knowledge and
wisdom. The young ones in his vicinity benefited from his
wealth of experience and wisdom. He could make you
laugh till you forget your name. Such was his ability and
wits at framing rib-cracking jokes that everybody loved
him passionately. He was 85years old at this particular time
but never suffered all the limitations and health problems
peculiar with aged people. He had an astonishing and
wonderful way of brightening up your day. His children
and grandchildren loved to be with him at all times. He
was a dark-skinned, tall and robust man. He was also baldheaded,
and looked like someone who had spent his youth
Pa Theophilus had drummed this message into the heads
of his children that if he should die, he must be buried the
following day. He said he should not be taken to the mortuary
and frozen up like fish and chicken. He hated the idea
of being kept in the ‘cooler’ as he put it. Exactly in the second
week of March, Pa Theophilus suddenly gasped for
breath and died. His children, relations and even neighbours
were saddened about the loss even though he was
85-year-old. They wanted him to continue living and making
Pa Theophilus, during his lifetime, was a very rich man
and gave his children good and sound education. He had
ordered his children that if he should die, he must be
buried with good attires and jewellery because he loved to
wear expensive gold on his neck and arms. The young and
old in his neighbourhood nicknamed him ‘Pa Elesho’ because
of his love for jewellery. In Yoruba parlance, if someone
is called ‘Elesho’ it means the person is passionate
about jewellery. Pa Theophilus was never angry and never
felt insulted if called Pa Elesho. He would simply smile and
pray for that person.
So, the next day after his death, he was dressed in
very expensive clothes and shoes. His children adorned his
neck and arms with his cherished gold and precious jewellery.
He was put in a very expensive casket and buried the
very way he wanted. He was buried in a special mausoleum
that cost several millions of naira.
But some evil-minded thieves planned to visit the graveyard
the following day in the evening to steal all the costly
jewellery and expensive attires buried with the good old
man. The vulture-eyed thieves were about seven in number.
They took along diggers, shovel, axe and other tools needed
for their nefarious activity.
The thieves had been digging the grave for the past 30
minutes or so, and had almost reached where the casket
was. There were smiles on the faces of the heartless thieves
as they sighted the beautiful casket. They knew that their
evil mission would pay off, as they would become rich after
this operation. Now, they were already there. They were
about opening the casket when they heard a deep cough.
They wondered who coughed among them.
“Ori ejo, who coughed just now?” the leader of the bandits
asked his partners in crime.
“I don’t know, Agbako,” Ori ejo replied.
“Don’t let anything distract our attention, we’re already
there!” one of them added in a guttural voice.
They moved closer to the casket and instantly opened it,
but lo and behold, what they saw made their hearts pound
a million times. They became frozen with fear! Pa
Theophilus, the supposedly dead old man was alive, hale
and hearty! In fact, he was sweating and perspiring and
also sighing. He raised his head a bit, sat up on the casket
and said: “Thank God, I’ve been waiting for you for the past
8 hours! The heat is too much inside here! I couldn’t
The vulture-eyed bandits couldn’t wait to hear the last sentence!
They were confused, shocked and dumbfounded! Instantly
they took to their heels, running like wild dogs that
saw something more terrifying than death! As the bandits
ran the great race for their dear lives, they were screaming,
“Help! Help!! Help!!! It’s a ghost!” Pa Theophilus was also
confused and surprised! He wondered what was happening.
He stood up and climbed to the surface of the earth,
then turned, took a closer look at where he just climbed
out from, and the stark reality instantly dawned on him
that he must have fainted and taken for dead and buried as
demanded. He strolled out of the cemetery and sauntered
home, whistling and humming an old, sweet song to himself.
It was a most bizarre and shocking sight to people when
they saw Pa Theophilus walking his way leisurely towards
his house. Neighbours took to their heels when they saw
him approaching. The fright that descended on them was
chilling and palpable.
“Yee, my God! That’s Pa Theophilus’ ghost!” screamed a
young woman with a baby strapped to her back. She
turned and ran inside her house, breathing heavily with
fear. She almost had heart attack.
“Almighty God! Yee! It’s Pa Theophilus’ ghost! Help!” those
were the words that came from the mouth of the frightened
people. Before one could say ‘Theophilus’ the old man
himself was right at the door of his house. Rumours had filtered
to his house and into the ears of his children that
their grand old man was on his way home. They couldn’t
believe their eyes when they saw him standing right there
at the door, smiling.
“Papa! Almighty God! Papa! Is it you or your ghost?” one of
his sons asked for the umpteenth time.
“Don’t be afraid, Samuel, it is me and not my ghost! I didn’t
die as you people thought. I only passed out.” he said with a
smile. “The lion never dies like that. Son, when the elephant
finally dies the jungle would echo its earth-shattering howl
for a long time!” he added, chuckling with excitement.
Surprise and amazement was boldly written on the faces
of his children and neighbours. Pa Theophilus was welcomed
back home, from the land of the dead. His children
were happy, and they didn’t hide it. There was palpable joy
and merriment at Pa Theophilus’ house that eventful
evening. People who heard the story couldn’t believe their
ears. But sincerely, it was real and true.
Pa Theophilus made mockery of death and put the devil
to shame. He became more friendly, humane, jovial and
down-to-earth in his relationship with people. Everyone
loved him. He never forgot to tell his children and neighbours
how thieves came to rob his grave, only to see him
sweating, hale and hearty and incidentally they ran away,
leaving their tools behind out of fright.
By Segun Durowaiye (08055356855)
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