Sunrise: Teaching My Brother How To Pronounce Death by Jon Chizoba Vincents

Sunrise: Teaching My Brother How To Pronounce Death

Today, i started teaching my brother what it means to die. I am teaching him how to pronounce death or write it on the pages of his exercise book. You know he started learning how to look at human faces and tell of them differently. The first time i helped him send a friend request to Satan, I watched him closely, saw how excited he was. He said he would unfollow God on Twitter and Instagram in the middle of his assorted nightmare. Before then, I’d told him how his birth brought the death of Lingolingo, our mother. it’s a happy-sad feeling, you know been born on the day your grandmother died? Maybe we are all pretending to be fine because the world gave us no other option than to be fine and look like there’s nothing called death.

“Here, pronounce it as D-E-A-T-H… It’s sweet on the tip of the tongue, sour and bitter notes scraping through the rest of your mouth. You must close your eyes in the process like when you are in a car heading back to Lagos, you try to forget how Aba made you feel. How Aba caressed your skin and grinned at you but you can’t help it. That is how to leave Death on your lips just like you left Aba in your head to bloom, like water stung between your teeth, like…”  I sniffed and wiped my nose. Our voices lacing together like one fabric.

Excerpt from, Sunrise: Teaching My Brother How To Pronounce Death by Jon Chizoba Vincents

My entire body became one loud thrill until we both fell asleep, wet with each other’s thoughts. For breaking myself apart, trusting myself with this secret of life, this was how my brother understood death looking at the pictures on the walls of my room:

PICTURE I: This is Chukwuemeka Akachi’s suicide note hung on the wall. The day Akachi died, Chike called me and told me that a poet had died. In spite of my busy schedule, i logged into facebook and copied his suicide note and framed it. Each night i look at it, i know death is closer to me than ever and i shouldn’t be afraid of it. I have learnt how to look at it.

PICTURE II: This is Akachi’s 16 ways to die. I may have to lock myself in a goodbye song now and always whenever i see a different man wearing a different look on his face. You see, when you know where you’re going to end up, you’ll stop fighting and wait for it to all be over. I always think facebook would be too painful a reminder of Akachi when the other memories were here in this portrait.

PICTURE III: This is Richeal Adeleke Toluwani. Her face was a stream of memory, my oldest memories and that of her family and those around her. She taught me that fighting is an easy route to find a different way to live again.

PICTURE IV: Because every poet has a demon behind him and everything he writes. Because every time i remember words written by poets, i remember there’re spirits behind them and death is as close to poets as their words are. This portrait is you and i, it is every writer in a dark room, reading, brainstorming and fighting to free himself from breaking. Amen!

Excerpt from, Sunrise: Teaching My Brother How To Pronounce Death by Jon Chizoba Vincents

PICTURE V: This is Samuel Elias. He was here sometimes ago.  His father walked around him muted, age drawing down the skin of his face. it was killing himself that their absence had dug this gaping gutter between them after the sunrise.

PICTURE VI: Because not every writer is happy. Because not every writer born in Nigeria is Rich and this has made every one of them hard, depressed and lonely. Whenever i take a walk around the streets of Lagos or I’m in an airplane heading to Aba, i look at the brown zincs and i thought of each person underneath there;  busy with different things: Some are fucking. Some are kissing. Some are Romancing. Some are weeping. Some are dancing and some are singing to an unknown tune. I think of every writer inside every building in Lagos. There is always a tendril of shame unfurling into a leafy plant inside every writer in Nigeria. This frame has many but one tale to tell of them. Hallelujah! #Error in Connection! #Try again! #The number you are calling is switched off, please try again later.

PICTURE VII: In spites of Ernest Hemingway teaching about Suicide and the colours that represent death. I hid them from my parents and grew out my hair, thinking that the weight dropping from my head would lighten the one inside of me. Death is not optional, it is a necessary friend, a necessity. Don’t shout when it comes to you or to your neighbour!

PICTURE VIII:  Every newborn is a name, an origin of butterfly. Ashes of a forlorn. Burnt dreams. Noisy graveyard. This is not the portrait you see always in a photographer’s collection. They say every time a child wishes for a pat on the back, he goes to his mother not his father.

PICTURE IX: Uzakah Timi…? Hunter S. Thompson% Hashtag **** Sylvia Plath! (#Breaking News) Authur Koslestler. Between// √√ ÷\ Above // Akachi @ Uwa#…. #Floyd… #√Error in Frame #Chadwick. Amen! Amen! #Rest_In_Power

PICTURE X: They had no idea what it was like to know in your marrow that someone had an answer to your questions, that someone around you was lying. They had no idea how every breath for suicide is hell.  Our mouths are made of nothing but questions, hungry questions bending us into a shape that was starving for answers. But who cares to give?


Take care of yourself, brother. you look so lonely. I won’t be here forever! When i wander again, cup me into a line or two and remember that dying is not only synonymous to living but it is an abstract way of leaving.

About the author

John Chizoba Vincents become the names of three people who deliberately see through each other. Sometimes, they are at war with each other and at times, they are the ties that never got broken. They: Them: Us: We represent Boys and their Anatomies, Men and their vulnerabilities, and Humans and their imperfections. Between them are rosy track roads that are rough and tough. They live in a lonely room in Lagos, Nigeria. They have been published widely online magazines and offline magazines. They are the founder of Philm Republic Pictures and Co-founder, Boys Are Not Stones Initiative; an organization that uphold the love for the BoyChild.

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Writer, editor and reader. A student of mathematics and physics, Twitter troll, Facebook comedian and human.

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