A Plot of Earth
You’re given a plot of land and have the financial resources to do what you please. What’s the plan?
Nkem shivered as she heard her name through the speakers. Her name had never been so amplified, as the highest volume in which she had heard her name voiced out was by her mother – whenever she shouted at Nkem to come and ‘off the tap for me’. Nkem never really understood how her mother could beckon on her from her room upstairs to the compound downstairs to turn off a tap downstairs.
Other speakers had spoken well… Very well indeed. This ‘Pitch for Plot’ competition the school made her enroll for was about the biggest thing she’d ever done in her life and with every minute closer to her turn, she hated herself for succumbing to the pressure.
The person before her had spoken of his plan to build a car manufacturing plant on the anticipatory plot of land. It seemed incredible but he had come up with sketches and expert projections on the success of his idea. The girl before her, Mary-Ann, had charmingly wowed the audience with her Fitness Center plan. A fitness center is not such a big deal, but Mary-Ann had given it an African/ homogenous twist such as a farmers market of only healthy foodstuff, daily Africana dances, working out with motions of village duties such as hoeing and threading Aso-Oke. It seemed so amazing.
‘Nkem Okoli. Please come up to the stage for your speech. Let the contestants be reminded that we are running out of time. Please stick to the 5 minutes allotted and do not exceed it. Thank you. Where’s Nkem Okoli? Oh, there she is. Take us away!’
As Nkem stood on the podium, she told herself she was standing in front of the mic and not the crowd. And so she started,
‘If I were given a plot of earth to develop, I’d develop it into a cemetery and name it ‘The Riches of Humus, The Poverty of Talents and The Hope of Dreams‘. It would serve as an exclusive cemetery only to those who apply to the cemetery management during their lifetime. In fact, not everyone who applies to this cemetery would be granted approval to be buried there upon their death.
Now, I see the faces of everyone here and I can tell that we’re confused, perplexed or simply offended. But you see, all my life, one question has plagued me repeatedly and it is this; ‘How can I die empty?‘ We have often heard that the richest place on earth is the graveyard with all its buried treasures of talents, ideas and goodwill which never materialized.
And so, I intend that with ‘The Riches of Humus, The Poverty of Talents and the Hope of Dreams’, this great tragedy would come to an end.
How? You may ask. This is simple. Anyone who wishes to be buried in such an exclusive plot of land has to sign up while he’s alive. In signing up, he would be required to submit his biggest goals, dreams and aspirations to the Management who would then play a supervisory role in his life to monitor how well he utilizes his talents and resources in developing these dreams. If upon his death, it is discovered that he did not fulfill up to 88% of his dreams, his application would be denied and his family members would have to find somewhere else for him to be buried. Of course, there are other provisos to this general rule… For instance, there would be a subjective test carried out on each applicant to determine whether or not the dreams submitted are indeed the highest he is capable of attaining OR an assessment on the different definitions of fulfillment to different individuals.
The major aim of this idea is that upon death, bodies buried on my plot of land only feed the land with the riches of humus – their decaying earthly bodies -, and that the land must to some extent, be starved of the talent of the dead and must be jealous of the hope in the continuation of their already materialized dreams. This would also motivate applicants and aspiring applicants to work on their aspirations so that their bodies would qualify to be buried in a dignified land as such. It’s like a ‘clique graveyard’ for those who lived ‘a good life’.
My time is up and I have to leave this podium, but just like that, one day, your time would be up and you would have to leave this earth. Before I go, I leave you with one question; ‘What steps are you taking to live fully and die empty?’