The Things We Took For Granted (Part 2)

Let’s love one another in Africa and appreciate the things and people around us always. Maybe if we start with our friends and families, one day the love may go round the world and our lives will be happy and free.

The Things We Took For Granted (Part 2)

By Adeola Aderounmu

Often we forget to show how much we care for our families and friends. Sometimes it is very difficult to express in words or actions how much our friends and families mean to us.

Me and A friend-Onero and his wife

Me and A friend-Onero and his wife

Absence makes the mind to grow fonder. This is so true that we (then) begin to appreciate friends and families when they are separated from us.

Sometimes the separation is irreparable or permanent because death came calling unexpectedly. This can result to extreme sadness or even depression.

Sometimes during this summer I saw my eldest brother again. He came to visit me in Sweden. The last time we saw each other before this visit was also in Stockholm in the spring of 2005. Though l have travelled to Nigeria two times after that we did not meet.

No one will believe that l have never travelled to Abuja or anywhere in the North of Nigeria. It does not even look like it will happen soon. I am that small boy from Western Nigeria.

As l was driving to the airport to pick up my brother l was moved to tears. Suddenly it struck me that a lot has happened since the last time we met. There have been a lot of good things. However since we are getting older we have had our own share of family tragedies which as a matter of principle l never share on the social media. But l made an obituary for my mother in the village square.

Distance apart means that we have not been able to share our emotions regarding these tragedies. Though my eyes were swollen, I could not shut them tight long enough to enable the free flow of tears. I needed to keep my focus behind the wheels.

But in private, I’d wept many times. It’s human nature. In some of my stories I’d written that the men who commit suicide are those who refused to cry. They sealed their emotions and punish their souls giving them up to untimely death.

When people cry on behalves of those who commit suicide, they (the mourners) find the strength to move on because their tears become sacrifices to the gods.

For about 30 minutes which was approximately how long it took to drive to the airport l also reminisced on many of the good times we had together especially in Festac Town where we grew up.

Sometimes l don’t know where to place my memories about Lagos Mainland. Are they real or are they mere fantasies? Why do I always think that my version of the aftermath of the assassination of Murtala Mohammed in February 1976 was the correct version? Why does all the pandemonium in Surulere play back and forth in my head as if they happened yesterday?

At home, when we were boys, I remember the fights and the unnecessary contests for power and supremacy. You cannot avoid these things if you have many boys growing up together in a flat or in a house. I don’t want to remember my violent tendencies because sometimes the repercussions were terrible.

I always remember the football days so much that l wrote the article The Boys From Festac. A follow up to that article is necessary. If someone had told me that l can live without playing football on Saturday mornings and Sunday evenings, l would have responded: don’t go there!

Sometimes l don’t worry to tell people who never saw me play football how good l was because they won’t understand and it is of no use now.

Sometimes too l remember how some people find it difficult to believe my brilliance at school because of my small size and extremely playful attitude. I still wonder too!

If you live your adult life very far away from the closest people you grew up with, the tendency is that when you look back, you’d wish you could turn back the hands of clock.

There are so many things you wish you could do again. There are so many people you long for but whom you took for granted when they were at arm’s length to you. What about the things you took for granted too?

Life will continue to go on and nothing will last, not forever anyway. Life itself will remain transient and temporal.

Recently l heard a story from one of our elders here in Stockholm. Obviously it is one of those stories you heard whilst growing up in Nigeria. But when you are reminded of such a story after a long time, it helps. Mr. Salimonu Kadiri, a respected elder in Sweden spoke about the argument between death and money. It was a case that was taken to the king.

Money argued that nothing can be done without him and death reminded the king that he (death) would have the last say on everyone including the king.

This folklore from Yorubaland has a lot of implications.

People should think about their pursuits of wealth and the opportunity costs.

Perhaps if we sit back a bit and reflect on life holistically….just maybe…we will live our lives differently, spread some love and warmth everyday. Who knows? We may end up living closer to our families and spend more time with the people we love.

We definitely need to appreciate more the people around us including our friends and our families.  If we do, our regrets and disappointments will be minimal if we eventually are (unavoidably) separated from one another temporarily or permanently.

The other day l came home from Finland and made an unscheduled visit to a friend in another part of Sweden the same day. It was 467 km away. I left home late and arrived at his front door at about 10pm. His reaction was priceless. Shock will be an understatement when he opened his door to welcome me and my family. We even ate dinner before we left!

In Nigeria this would have been a normal thing. But in Sweden it is almost a taboo to visit someone without notifying them. It’s rare. On top of that we arrived at night like thieves. I don’t why people look too far and find it difficult to connect the individualistic traits of the western world with the high rate of depression.

When we grew up in Nigeria our lives were mainly communal in nature. We meet people everyday. We share with people everyday and we celebrate everyday. We took these things for granted because we thought we will always have them.

Since we do not have the same powers as the gods, we did not see the future. We were taught the 20 children cannot play together for 20 years. It wasn’t made so clear that the 20 children will have extreme difficulties to re-unite or re-group again once they have said goodbyes.

I see the struggle to re-unite or re-group in alumni or old students’ associations. It’s like a mission impossible though manageable from one event to another when different people show up.

I see the struggle to re-unite with friends. We have all received our fair shares of desperate mails from people on the social media asking if we are the right persons.

Even l have seen the struggle to re-unite families.

We struggle now because we took people and things for granted when we had them right in front of our faces. Some of our struggles are psychological because we are torn between two or three countries and wonder if we will ever make it back to settle in Nigeria. We miss home and the warmth of our friends and families especially.

It is now golden for us in the western world to meet our friends, families and even the people we knew first in this part of the world. Unfortunately, here, most friendships don’t last because individualism and western world syndrome gradually eat into our souls. We are in trouble. Where are our real friends? Where are our true families?

When Mr. Kadiri spoke, it was at a memorial for a man whom many people spoke well of. I’m not sure he heard so much of these good things from his friends and families when he was alive. The people who knew him or who were close to him may have taken things for granted.

How wonderful life would be if people start to say all these positive things to one another whilst they still can!

How can one preach that people should just shun bitterness and hatred towards one another?

I know. It is like a mirage to hope that the human race should place love and care above hatred and war.

Let’s love one another in Africa and appreciate the things and people around us always. Maybe if we start with our friends and families, one day the love may go round the world and our lives will be happy and free.

aderounmu@gmail.com

Advertisements

The Madrilenean

“I will go to a place where nobody knows my name, a place where the language is different”

The Madrilenean

By Adeola Aderounmu

Adeola Aderounmu

Adeola Aderounmu

Pablo grew up in Girona. This town has about 100 000 people. His childhood went too quickly or maybe not. It depends on which perspective he chose. When he thought about the years he had to endure with his sisters, then it was a long, uneventful childhood.

On the other hand when he thought about what could have happened if he could turn back the time, then it was a period that went rather quickly. As a result of his feelings during his teenage and college days, he forgone many things that many other children his age did.

There are many things that Pablo will like to forget. There are so many things he hoped will be left in his thoughtless moments.

But what happened to Pablo actually that almost destroyed his life especially his relationship with his family. Here is the story.

Pablo has 3 sisters. He is the only son of his parents. At a very early age, he started to pull away from everyone in his household. He felt totally different. When his parents noticed his strange withdrawal, they tried to pamper him. Pablo’s withdrawal became more intense and his parents regretted that they did not consult a professional. Where did we go wrong? His mother pondered.

One day his father decided to take a long walk. He thought deeply about his family situation-how his daughters are having the best days of their lives and how his only son is turning to a complete stranger. He slipped at the edge of the pavement and broke a toe. He is a man who believes in omen. His favourite is the spirit of the puma.

Once he had a twisted ankle when he was taking a walk in the woods and thinking about Pablo. When he got a broken toe walking on the other side of the town, he decided that he will never worry about Pablo again. He thought he may develop a serious health problem like stroke if he worries more about Pablo. A twisted ankle and then a broken toe will do. The spirit of the puma will guide Pablo, he reasoned.

It didn’t matter what anyone did, Pablo did not feel that he was loved. At home the conclusion was that Pablo was acting the last child or the last born. One day Aleksandra the eldest sister told a joke and said, mamma, maybe you should have let pappa make the 5th baby. Maybe Pablo wanted a brother to play with. He doesn’t like us because we are girls.

Pablo was 10 years at the time and the joke turned out to be a bad one. He locked himself in the room and skipped school for 3 days. He came out only when everyone had left home and helped himself to some juice and biscuits. His mother cried. She was completely devastated how bad things turned out socially for Pablo.

Pablo had always thought that his sisters are getting all the attention at home. No one is sure exactly when he got that perception but it must have registered in his brain quite early. His mother even said, maybe he heard too many voices when he was a foetus and got fed up with everyone even before he was born.

On the surface everyone at home knew that Pablo’s feelings or perceptions were incorrect. But deep inside they don’t know what approach would make him cherish and love them the way they love him. So the most difficult task at home and sometimes at school and at the playgrounds was how to correct the impressions and help Pablo get along socially. He was growing up and his family feared that he may become a social misfit. This trait is uncommon in Catalonia.

What was obvious was that Pablo did not know how to feel as a boy because everywhere he looked in the house, he saw girls and things that belonged to girls. This made him uncomfortable and sad and he thought he was different from the other boys in his class. His heart continued to grow cold as he grew up.

Pablo hated school. It is a place that brought him in contact with many other categories of people. However he learnt to dissociate his social deficiency from his academic needs. Therefore he excelled even as a withdrawn student. This was one of the reasons his parents did not seek professional help for him. His future looks bright, his mother said to his father one day when they looked at some of his results after a quarterly conference with the school teachers.

When he was 18 Pablo started to work at the postal agency. He saved a lot of money because this is a work he had no need for. His father is wealthy and even his mother inherited a lot of fortunes from her grandparents. His parents understood that Pablo took the job so he could skip encountering his sisters at home. It was one of his weird ideas of what freedom means.

By the time Pablo became a graduate at the age of 23, there was only one of his sisters left unmarried. With only Cecilia at home, Pablo was beginning to see the world from another perspective. But he had a hard time to express his feelings. He never liked his sisters yet he’s feeling the vacuum created when Aleksandra and Viveca left home forever.

When he was a young boy he promised never to love anyone because he doesn’t know what it means. I will never know what it means to love, he told himself. He hated his childhood. He does not like to remember it. He felt lonely, quite often. These women have ruined my life, so he thought. He cannot remember when he started hearing their voices but it appeared like forever until now that Cecil is the only one left.

Despite all his troubles Pablo turned out to be one of the outstanding engineers in Girona. People have noticed that he likes to be alone but they have also come to appreciate his effectiveness and productivity at work. This was also an outstanding observation his former boss made when he worked at the postal agency.

Pablo found the courage and will to rent his own apartment. When he was 25 and Cecil was preparing to get married, Pablo decided it was time for him to move on. That’s what he did.

One day Pablo was tired after work. It was his third year at the factory and he had accumulated his annual leave. So he decided he will travel to another city in another country. He made up his mind to travel to a place he had never been before.

I will go to a place where nobody knows my name, a place where the language is different. So he left. He travelled by road to Barcelona and flew from there to St. Petersburg.

One day he stood at the central station at St. Petersburg. He was looking at the map, trying to find his way around.

But the map he was looking at was inside a frame made of glass. So it also looked like a mirror. He saw himself as he looked at the map for directions.

Suddenly he saw the image of a woman too. There was a pretty woman looking at the same map. She stood behind him.

(Read Part 2 Next Week)

aderounmu@gmail.com