On Death – Story Written by Diana Radovan

When you die, you sink into the ground, pulled down by a giant blue whale. And God eats little pieces of your skin and eyes, until there’s no flesh left, and then you can go to heaven, because your soul is free.

Or you go to hell, because you stuffed your soul, when you were alive, with meat, drugs, and loveless lovers, so much so that your soul spent its entire life hiding underneath your bones, forgotten even by itself, so only hell can bring it back to life.

When Father died, last month, he was already very old. His organs were almost coming out through his flesh, his eyeballs looked as though they were about to pop out of his head. He used to always mumble something about the daily news, or my loveless German husband, my mother’s growing Alzheimer’s, my brother’s absence.

He’d pile up clothes, books, photographs, and hurtful words. Look what you’ve done with yourself, he’d say, this isn’t how we raised you! I made arrangements for his funeral back in Turkey, but I never washed his body, they did this in the hospital, I wasn’t the one to close his eyes. At the funeral, he looked as if he was sleeping.

When my brother died, last year, he was still young. Thirty years old. I did not get to see his dead body. Sometimes I can pretend that he’s still alive, that we still talk, like we used to, that he comes over, unannounced, and everything is as it should be. My parents gave him a traditional funeral in Turkey, although he had told me, just one week before the car crash, that he’d rather be buried here, in Germany, where he spent his life.

In a way, Mother died a long time ago, after she had us, my brother and me, and then they took everything out, they made her womb really empty and clean, and made sure no man would ever spurt his seed in-there again, not even Father, not even Uncle Evren, who stopped visiting us the next summer. Mother hasn’t even realized yet that Father died.

Now there is only me. Mother’s emptiness. Father’s clothes, smelling of naphthalene. The smell of death, filling the hallways, flooding the house. I take the train and I take the bus and I try to warn people: Live, and think of death, and don’t be a burden. Don’t be a gatherer. You will all die. So think about that. Think of how you want to live and die, then die.

When my children die, I will not carry their bodies to another place or land. But there is still time. My daughter is mine, our son is the German man’s child. He does not call me Mother, he does not want to be hugged. My daughter is used to hearing the words death, corpse, heaven, and hell. She is seven, and if I go before she does, she’ll know what to do.

When I die, I want to be buried in a forest, under a pine tree, my body incinerated, in a locked urn. There, in the forest, with my body turned to ashes, no longer feeding any child or parent or partner or tree, maybe there I will be lucky enough and God will leave me alone.

For more stories by Diana Radovan, please check out her website and her Facebook page.

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