Story by The Eagle – An Outcry From The Inner Self.
He realised he had been staring blankly at that one page of the book for over 30 minutes, totally oblivious to the world and the book itself.” what’s wrong with me?” he ran up stairs to meet a senior colleague for some sort of advice or motivation.
John was a student of Ayerin University, Kano. A 100 level grade student, from a family of three, he was the only child. It was his first year at school and the test was fast approaching, he needed his books now, more than ever for the moment but the motivation wasn’t ramping up.
“Take a seat my dear” Michael the senior colleague he went to said, “I understand what’s happening to you, it happens to all of us” Michael continued with the advice for over 15 minutes. It still didn’t trigger up John’s energy. He felt weak, everything Michael was saying wasn’t new to him, work hard, be determined, don’t give up and blah blah blah. when Michael was through, he thanked him spuriously and left. Still skimming through his head of which senior colleague he could run to that’ll will perfectly boost his morale. There was none coming up, so we gave up the idea and went back to his room. He took up his phone for a little chat maybe it would help. Going through his chat, he caught site of an information circulating that the federal government had ordered the lockdown of all tertiary institutions indefinitely due to the covid-19 pandemic. He felt relived instantly, it felt really good to take a break.
Immediately a call from his mum bleeped through his phone, he answered and she informed him that his Dad was back home due to the recent lockdown just announced. After that call he felt a pang in his chest. What? Dad at home? I can’t believe this.
John’s Dad, Mr Akin is a petrochemical engineer and works with the shell petroleum development company of Nigeria. He had left home since John was five after a terrible dispute he had with his wife, although he sends in funds for John’s tuition, well-being and other necessities dutifully.
At time past, way before Mr Akin got married to John’s mother, he had a strong heart felt feelings for a lady called Priscilla, he loved her with all his life. She was very religious and way too strict that sometimes Mr Akin would choose to indulge in sexual pleasure with his side chick, Sylvia who is currently John’s mum. Sylvia at her end had no problem with it all, she had her boyfriend too. They were simply two cheaters flirting. They had not played safe enough, Sylvia became pregnant and she knew it was for Mr Akin because she had never had any sexual intercourse with her genuine boyfriend. When she disclosed it to him, he shuddered, how about Priscilla my true love Mr Akin wondered, how would she feel after knowing how much I betrayed her, and how about me, I would never forgive myself. John knew he couldn’t suggest abortion, because Sylvia had stated clearly that she was willing to deliver this baby.
The news got to Priscilla, they broke up, and Akin had never felt complete since then. His parent persuaded him to embrace his fault, accept responsibility, and move on. It didn’t sit well with him, he seemed not to have a choice, he got married to Sylvia after some months she gave birth to a son to which they named John.
At the time John turned five, Sylvia had caught Akin, her husband cheating, they had a terrible dispute that escalated to what they’ve never experienced before that he had resolved to leaving the house and leaving for good, he had never loved her anyway, he knew this with all his heart, he never would.
John lay supinely on his bed imagining how the whole lockdown of a thing would be, it had always been him to his mum as far as memory could permit him. He had no siblings and his Dad was far from home and never coming back, although he speaks to him customary over the phone at rare weekends and anytime he asked him if when he would ever return, he would give a trivial response “Immediately am through with work my son”.
What work? Did his Dad hate him too?
He grew weary to this reply and knew for sure that his Dad would never come back, it’s one of those things one had to accept. He remembered how he would ask his mum whether his Dad truly loved him and straight off the bat, she would reply “of course he does, he’s busy, you should understand him”
John had to choke himself to believing it.
“Oh my World! Welcome back, you look exhausted please go take a shower so you would feel a bit rejuvenated. I’ll be at the dinning table waiting, my year one boy!” She grinned ” this school is really telling on you, go and come and gist me your experience in school so far”. She was happy to see her son.
John was very happy to see his mum too but the though of his Dad were the predominant
“Thanks mum, but where’s Dad?”
“Oh, he’s upstairs at the balcony in front of the second master’s room” she responded calmly.
He hurriedly dropped his bag, had his way upstairs and on seeing his Dad, head stuck to his newspaper, there was this strange feeling that deluged him immediately.
“Good evening sir”
He lifted his head slowly “yes my boy, you just arrived?”
“How was school?”
“Good” he reverted his gaze back to his newspaper.
Is that all? John thought, walking back to his room he realized how more of a stranger that man seemed than family. Although he found a part of him admiring the man’s calm demeanor and a little more, he’s long beards.
Later that evening they had invited father for dinner but he declined saying he wasn’t hungry and will prefer to eat alone. It was a queit house, the silence was totally palpable.
His eyes beamed open at exactly 6:30 a.m it was a normal occurrence to Mr Akin’s body now, he was used to waking up at this time before the lockdown, bathing hurriedly in order not to be held down by the Rumuokoro Port Harcourt highway traffic. Now he had to force himself to sleep longer, oh how he hated the lockdown. He abhor the fact that he would have to see Sylvia and the young boy everyday. Their presence reminded him of the past, his mistakes and his lost love. He loved working, it shielded him and made it easy to forget about them, Far away from this State. But now there’s a lockdown,why did he even come back? Maybe because of the boy, maybe not. He built this house anyway. He would just have to live through it, yes he could, silence and avoidance would be his work-tool.
At about midday Mr Akin was watching an old basketball match between the Lakers and Chicago bulls, he loved basketball and was a supporter of the Lakers. Engrossed in the intensity of the match, his son John came to watch too. Is he a fan of basketball too? Akin wondered. Well i don’t care anyway, immediately this match is over I’ll leave the TV all to him
“Oh no!!! Anthony Davies should have gone for that rebound, LeBron James is all free behind waiting for a counter basket”. John said enthusiastically totally focused to the match.
Wow! That was a terrific observation, Akin though. He asked him
“You’re a fan of basketball?”
“Of course dad! I love the Lakers, during my first weeks in school I was already chosen to play for the best team in campus”.
“That’s good”. Akin replied unwilling to drag the discussion any further but deep down he was impressed. It took him way back to those days when he was a student and one of the best basketball player on campus, he had represented his school in inter-tertiary Milo competition amongst others, and always earn the MVP (most valuable player) medal at the end.
A month and a week has passed and the recorded cases of Corona Virus was increasing rapidly, Akin sat at his usual couch at the balcony with these frustrating thoughts. He was tired of the solitude, no seminars, no office work, no friend to while away time with. What a time?
He started to think subconsciously about himself, what precisely had been his purpose on Earth and where exactly is he heading to. A question that never grew cliché. He’s working with the shell company, he has a house, a car and a befitting financial status but he had never relish the feeling of fulfilment in life. Ever since he had cut ties with Priscilla the first and last love of his life it had left him with scars he knew not when they’d fade. Again he thought of Priscilla, she had gotten married to a Scottish man and they both reside in the UK. Immediately he sensed a surge of guilt, Priscilla had moved on, his parents who made him accept Sylvia were also far away somewhere enjoying their lives, even Sylvia has been a good mum to John, everyone had moved on with life except him. He had allowed history to tailor his destiny. He has neglected his whole skin and magnified only the scars, he had refused to forgive himself. See how God has blessed me, he thought. I have a son doing well and has an assuring future, a wife who has been a competent mum all these while. What then had clouded my sight from these priceless gift of life. I now know. I have refused to confront my mistakes and learn from them, I have instead played the victim all this while and every gift bestowed on me by God has been received unnoticed. Oh! I have been viewing life from a distorted mirror.
Again he remembered how much he had given himself to work, attending seminars, expanding the company’s business, always trying to be busy, rejecting solitude and reflection and now the pandemic has relieved him all of those responsibilities and giving him every reason to reflect, to sit back and get to see things in a proper perspective. How grateful can he be. Only if he had given himself to introspection a long time before now he would sure have been a good Dad and husband. He felt sorry for his son, the trauma he would have caused him to carry. To his loving wife too. With these thoughts at heart he began to feel heavy from the inside, his teeth tightly gripped, teary-eyed and the the tears came flowing down his cheeks. I’m going to fix this. God help me. That night he decided to check on John before going to bed, he saw his boy on bed about to sleep.
“Hey boy, may I talk to you a second?”
“Sure”. John replied.
He poured out his heart to his son apologizing for every trauma he might had made him carry. He apologized to his wife too, and although he sensed her defiance, her resistance but he would keep trying. He had to.
John slept that night with the widest of all smile and a tear of hope. Slowly as the days passed by he started to become more compatible with them all, enjoying his son’s company, watching their favourite basketball matches, having pleasant talks with his wife at dinner times and at bedtime. He had never lived this way before.
He sat on his usual couch at the balcony ready to reflect, reflection and time alone introspection had saved him, saved the unity of his family and so he had decided to make it a habit. This time a disturbing question flashed through his mind, will this pandemic end the World? Ha! Of course not, its going to be a religious war, it’s happening already the Islamic extremist who has disguised themselves as the the Al-Qaedar, ISIS or whatever fraternity they may form trying to impose the Sharia law on everyone, causing havoc to those they term infidels and even to the Muslims who had embraced western education or living in harmony with the so called Islamic infidels and the Christian community will soon enough get to understand that those who oppress them will not easily quit by prayers or hope, they’ll have to defend themselves, they’ll have to act! It would then mark the end of humanity. People fighting over uncertainties, over things there are yet to see. Nature will teach man that the very mind that was meant to evolve them would rather destroy them. Nothing is really good. Everything seems relative, people working for financial freedom and getting enslaved by it, the many paradoxes we’ve grown to embrace without questioning, such an irony.
At this point, Akin’s heart was throbbing, he was in shock of his own thoughts, it was reflection that has earlier brought to him to lime light some days ago and its the same reflection that is deteriorating him now. How could this be? Then again he realised that not only do God speak to our hearts the devil does too. It would be pertinent that before we go into the state of reflection we commit our thoughts to God and seek his voice because mere meditation could be vain, boring, malicious or even logical and carnal logicality most times doesn’t correlate with God’s instructions. He was glad of this awareness. He’s going to share this with his family he concluded.
John and Sylvia were seated with him at the living room, how he loved them. He smiled and welcomed them. “There’s something important I would love to share with you”, he continued “it’s that which have saved me and to a large extent brought about the unity we now enjoy in this family. It is reflection and personal introspection. It may sound simple, but the small things neglected by men are held to high esteem in heaven. It is totally important to pray, prayer is simply the lifting up of one’s mind to God. So after talking to God, do you sit back to listen to what he has to say? Imagine if God spoke to everyone the pressure on prophets would be greatly mitigated. Way before the lockdown, I had always been busy, in fact I hated solitude so much that I labelled it idleness. I always try to engage myself, to be on a constant go! Now I have come to the realization that it wasn’t necessarily the best for me. It is important that we make up time for ourselves “the alone” time I call it, through the guidance of the holy spirit, we then should meditate and listen to our inner self. Even Jesus Christ, a man who knows the laws of Heaven and Earth, who had come to save humanity on earth in Matthew 26:36 told his disciple to sit and wait while he go ponder and pray alone. Most times when we feel troubled or discomfort for no reasons it is our Inner self crying out for our attention but in many instances we instead look for a hobby, hangout, or find an engagement, thinking that would solve it. It may help at that moment, but certainly, it’ll be on its way back. What questions do you carry in the inside of you? There are answers to them within you, are you listening?
Immediately John remembered how most times in school he would want to read and concentrate but the motivation won’t just be ramping up, how he would work around looking for a senior colleague to talk him into reading, he had been wrong! It’s not wrong to seek advice, but motivation in itself is an expression of something that comes from the inside. All he needed at those times was to simply relax and reconcile with the voices in his head, to listen keenly to his inner self, it had a thing to say. Akin observed the intensity to which his son and wife had been engrossed to his message and it pleased him.
Akin lay on his bed that night, beside his wife overwhelmed in gratitude. Grateful for his life, his family, even the pandemic that had created this medium for which he had been able to come to a state of total reconciliation with himself and family. But how can a person be grateful for this pandemic? A virus that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and still counting but then a still calm voice whispered in return, that’s exactly what God expects from a Christian, the ability to identify the positive, magnifying it and been the grateful for them. Mourning wouldn’t solve the smallest of all problems, rather it would set you off balance, vanquishing the opportunity you could have with your inner self. But gratitude in turn, impresses God and frustrates the devil.