THIS column broke through the banks last Thursday. Restrained within it’s marks, the conclusion which advocacates a housing estate of sort of settlement for love sick, abandoned old Nigerians, had to be consigned for today’s edition. With more leg room today for the legs, I believe we can do well with more case stories of abandoned old people who may enjoy the rest of their lives better than they otherwise would have if younger people shower them with some time and love. This is in the recognition that they, too, are growing old and may arrive at this “bus-stop” some day.
There used to be a big and popular hospital somewhere in Lagos, set up by a medical doctor in his forties when my generation was in it’s mid twenties or their thirties. No member of his family was in the medical profession by the time he decided to retire and head home to rest his bones. By this time, his children had all gone abroad. Old -age differences with his wife led to her migration abroad. A huge mansion in which they lived became cold and lifless for him. Almost every one who surrounded him to bring help and succour appeared to have come with long knives to make mince meat of a fallen elephant. He tried many women to find love, but found them all unworthy for his dream. Here was a doctor we young people reverred when we were growing up lying prostate before unpolished and unlettered street women. His since appear to be that he was too serious minded for his environment. The last of the women I learned he tried out to fill the emotional gap in his life was one he would never have tolerated near him in his hey days. The woman who told me this story is herself long gone now. She, too, had emotional opposite -gender emotional gaps in her life through the maze of which she single- handedly raised three children from just before 25years. I cannot call the woman in reference her friend because, normally, they were universes apart. This other woman had four children, each one for a different man, and lived with her parents. After falling out with the septugenerian doctor, she made ago for another man who had left his wife and four children. Together, they would hire an apartment and,she would get pregnant for child number five on either side. The story of this woman opened my eyes to the story of another such woman and to the story that the marriage or romance industry had ballooned or expanded well beyond the traditional confines of my generation.
On the new playing grounds are to be found all sorts of women who have lost their bearing in such matters and who, like chemical free radical molecles, look for love sick old men to devour. This one began to pay week -end visits to this retired medical doctor who lavished her with money and gifts. From her, my acquintance, who was my client, learnef that the condition for marriage that she gave the doctor was that he sell the hospital and give her a quarter of the proceed. She turned elsewhere when he became feet dragging, unable to swallow the pill. when I had the story, I wished I was close enough to the doctor at this turning point of his life to advice him to consider using his wealth to found a mini settlement for abandoned men and women who are brow beaten by emotions, living and functioning in joyful activities among them in a service worthier than casting his pearles before the swine. Who knows why this experince thrust itself upon him? Was it a debt he had to settle through experiencing? Was this it? I thought of him again last Saturday when I heard a Moslem early morning sermon on Radio Lagos. The preacher said our material possessions were meant to be spent in three ways. We were to eat nourishing food and look after the health of our bodies. Second, we were to adorn our bodies with beautiful clothes and ornarments. He backed them both up with a Yoruba proverb… OHUN EIYE BA JE LEIYE MA GBE FO(the bird flies off with whatever it ate).
The moral is that: Do not be miserly to your being… enjoy the earthly fruits of your earthly labour …you cannot enjoy them elsewhere or even in the grave. Then, finally, the preacher said that from the left over, the family should be well looked after and the poor should not be forgotten. Whatever is given to the needy to bring them up in their existence, he said, his treasure the giver is stock pilling for his enjoyment in the after-life.
In my higher school(HSC) days between 1969 to 1970, I knew one of my maternal relations we called UNCLE MAJEK. He was e DXntranged from his father who, according to the story his mother told him, rejected his paternity. But even a fool at forty saw and knew they were such look -alikes that another man could not have been Uncle Majek’s father. Uncle Majek’s father became old and destitude in a single room tenancy. Uncle Majek spared him no thought that many people knew off. He was struck with glaucoma and became blind. When one of his cousins saw his plight, he saved him from eviction by the landlord over mounting rent arears.
So, Uncle Majek’s father came to live in the property of his benevolent older cousin. From Igbobi College where I was schooling then, I would sneak into town at weekends to eat home food”at my maternal grandmother’s. She lived in the property beside the one in which Uncle Majek’s father lived. I loved to spend some time with old people because they told so many useful family stories and, so, couldnt have missed being with the old man once in a while. Sometimes, l helped him with cooking in his one room apartment. But there was one aspect of his lifestyle I could not stand… he evacuated his bowls in a plastic bowl which, covered, he carried to the toilet through a long corridor in the property which separated facing rooms in which other tenants lived. Sometimes, he would miss the water closet and mess the floor. Sometimes, he would splash the toilet seat with poop. Sometimes, he would would bring the bowl back with poop reminants. His follows tenants would abused and even curse him, for they would have to clean off the mess. I always woundered why his children did not hire a house keeper for him to make his old age more interesting for him. What sin did he commit against them that they could not forgive? Where they not Christians? Did Christians not always asked the Lord to forgive their sins againt Him as they did tresspasses or their fellow men againt them? If these children did not over look the failure of their father, did they expects the Lord to overlook theirs? Why did children drag themselves into the battles of their parents? At that time, I little realised that there was no ” accident”in our earthly experiences. We are drawn into circumstances where certain events are unfolding from which we must learn certain lessons. We may profit from such lessons then or in future if we accept those experiences in humility,that is in good faith, however bitter they are, and apply them appropriately when the time to use them arises in our lives.
When we ignore a blind man, for example, are we leaving blindness into our Karma or carpet of fate? Will the love we show a blind man release us from such fate? When we feed or help the poor, are we weaving the way for our release from such condition which may lie somewhere ahead in our carpet of fate?
To cut a long story short, Uncle Majek’s father died one day. And, soon after, the stately cars of those days poured into the street where he lived and into the adjourning streets. It was his F_U-N- E-R-A-L . Uncle Majek was there. I watched the proceedings from the Balcony of my grandmother’s house. Young as I was, I realised inwardly I should not participate in the revelry or stretch out my hand for the food they were serving, however delicious, or for the drinks. Was this life? I asked myself. And as if this question was answered, years after, there came the news that Uncle Majek was struck with blindness from glaucoma.
When I began to concern myself with spiritual life, I always hoped uncle Majek’s father would forgive Uncle Majek for abandoning him, even though he, too, abandoned Uncle Majek as a child. Otherwise,they may have become spiritually linked, and the old man may return to his son as a child and the genetic problem of blindness would recur all over, until each person freed himself or herself from this generational cob webs of Karma through expressing love and genuine forgiveness.
When I make public speeches about love and forgiveness, strive to paint a picture.when we do not walk away from unhealthy relationships, even if doing so would cost us all the treasure of the earth, we may become linked and bonded to people we are relating with in such circumstances . Imagine two birds tied together at the wings, I would say. Neither of them is any longer as free as an unbonded bird to fly around. If you are spiritually bonded to someone, you may share in unholesome forces and experiences approaching him or her and tormenting his life. If this person is bonded to, say, a thousand others, and you, too, are similarly bonded, these are the forces which hold many people down and prevent their ascent from the earth when their time to return “home” arrives. Haven’t you heard about earth-bond souls which haunt homes, property,farmlands? Haven’t you been seeing in dreams people who passed away long, long ago who are still looking very much around the earth? Haven’t we heard of stories of people who were reported to have died in one part of the earth and we’re seen in another? What about the ABIKUs and the OGBANJEs? What about the forces of PRINCIPALITIES?The traditional religion of Yorubaland believe the trouble with many people is no more than their suffocation in daily life by their ELEGBEs( cosmic fraternities) which still hold them down. Don’t the church claim to free such people through deliverance services?
Ladies and gentlemen, the key to this malaise is love. The proposal of an exlusive Village for love- sick, abandoned old people may very well provide an opportunity for this. Above all is the need to walk away without conditionalities from all tresspasses against us, without holding any thing agaibst the offender(s) so that we will not linked or bonded to them. We must free ourselves of all ties, and attach ourselves firmly only to GOD, Who is LOVE. For whenever we love, we are linked directly to him. The Lord Jesus, His Envoy,not only taught us the Lord’s prayer,fight. He suggested we feel offended only when the tresspesser had tresspass against us seven X seven X seven times in one day. Who can offend you these many times in one day? Prophet Mohammed, the humble servant of Allah (may the peace of Allah be upon him and us,too) said that if a new sun rise finds in our heart offenses from a previous sun raise, we would not parttake in blessings brought by the new sun rise. That means we are cut off from the Blessings of Allah untill we purge the soul of the contamination.