• Flash Fiction

    The Snatcher of Life

    The door cracked open and Olanna poked her head in.

    Ihuoma was sitting on the floor, with her back propped against a wall that had long lost the definition of its colour. Her eyes glistened with tears that were yet unshed and stared ahead, and at nothing.

    “Ndo, nwannem.” Olanna soothed. She had lowered beside her. “Sorry, my sister. His death was a shock to us all. I am yet to believe that he is gone. Chei! Onwu! Death! You are no respecter of man.”

    She jerked up her shoulders in a shrug that bespoke amazement. “So, Udoeze is gone. Ewo!” Another shrug was accompanied by a hiss. “But what killed him? I saw him only four market days ago and he was as fit as a fiddle. No ailment. And now, he is dead. What exactly killed him?”

    “Death.” Ihuoma gave the answer without shifting her gaze from the nothingness she stared into. “Death killed him.”

    “Death.” Olanna echoed the word as if it was an astonishing phenomenon. “Okwa onwu? So, death killed a great man like Udoeze? Death has no fear. No, it has no fear. It comes and goes without announcing itself. It enters without knocking and awaiting invitation. And it takes without asking permission. Death! Hmm.” She gave her head a shake, hissed. “Who can escape it?”

    Then as if she recalled her duty to the bereaved, she shifted closer and gave her a pat of sympathy. “It is well, my sister. God gives and God takes back what is his. No one can question him.”

    So it is God now who has taken and no longer death who came in without announcing itself. Ihuoma thought the switch from blame to acceptance was ironic. We would blame death and accept, without daring to question, God’s will. But is the giver of life not the bringer of death too?

    “Ndo.” Olanna soothed again. “Don’t cry anymore. Tears cannot bring him back. Nothing can bring him back. So, wipe your tears.”

    Wipe her tears? And with what?

    Were not his hands her handkerchief when she cried?

    Were not his shoulders her pillow when her head drooped with the burden laid on her by life?

    Were not his words solace when her heart grieved?

    And his smile a ray of light that promised a better day?

    Wipe her tears. With what? And for what?

    “Ndo.” It was as if her silence required a repetition, so Olanna repeated herself. “Ndo, nwannem. You will be fine. Ife ga di nma ozo. Things will be well again. Trust in God.”

    Trust in God? Trust in the one who gives life and then lets death in to snatch back that life?

    “God has dealt me a heavy blow.” The words trembled out of Ihuoma.

    “Mba! It is not God who dealt you the blow. It is death who came like a thief in the night and stole your joy.” Olanna disputed.

    So, it was back to death bearing the burden of blame. Again, ironic!

    “Udoeze!” Ihuoma cried the name once, blinked, and her tears fell.

    What does it matter who took Udoeze, God or death? What does it matter if death came of its own accord or if it came as a messenger of God? What does it matter if she accepted or cast blame?

    Udoeze is gone and he will never again return.


    Sometimes, I wonder, especially when death seems so untimely, who is the bringer of death… God, or is it on a journey of its own will?

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  • Reply datoks September 12, 2017 at 9:55 am

    In fact I wonder too, cos a colleague’s mother in law just died yesterday, and she’s such a nice woman, its so sad.

    • Reply TM David-West September 12, 2017 at 6:10 pm

      Gosh, how very sad for your colleague. May the dead rest in peace. Amen

  • Reply mobolaji olanrewaju September 12, 2017 at 4:09 pm


    The fact remains the person is gone.

    May God consoled the bereaved!

    • Reply TM David-West September 12, 2017 at 6:11 pm

      That indeed is the bottom-line. The person is dead and gone, and the living must go on living

      • Reply Asobia Constance September 15, 2017 at 2:22 pm

        The living must go on living but it is not easy when everything reminds you of the person. I just lost my brother on the 9th of September and now I know first hand what pain feels like.

        • Reply TM David-West September 15, 2017 at 6:46 pm

          Gosh, take heart, Constance. It must be hard, I know, but God will continue to give you solace and comfort.

          Keep your spirit up. It will always be well, no matter what.

          • Asobia Constance September 17, 2017 at 8:46 pm

            Thank you TM

  • Reply David Iyko September 12, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    God is not blame
    Death is inevitable!

  • Reply Glowing Kosnie September 13, 2017 at 9:03 am

    I just lost my Aunt…she was just 45…I. Still feel very. Bad. At her. Death… don’t know who. Or what to. Question…The. Pain is. Still very fresh

    • Reply TM David-West September 13, 2017 at 3:52 pm

      Oh, Kosnie, so so sorry. Do accept our condolences. To die so young… Sad!

      May God give your family the grace and fortitude to bear this.

      • Reply Glowing Kosnie September 14, 2017 at 2:56 pm


        Thanks TM…This means a lot to Me!

  • Reply Roselyn September 14, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    Hm mmm, Life! Death! Never knew my dad, lost my grandma who was taking care of me while in senior secondary, got re- connected with my mom afterwards only to loose her while serving. Lost my grandad too at least he died at 86. Last year lost my step – younger brother who was staying with me, so I can sincerely understand Ihuoma. So is death a messenger Abi it just dey waka pass?

    • Reply TM David-West September 15, 2017 at 6:42 pm

      Wow, you have really known loss, Rosie, and I expect God is the only reason you’re keeping strong. May He continue to give you that needed strength and courage.

      Cheers, dear lady

  • Reply Roselyn September 21, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    Amen. Thanks Love.

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