She let herself into our room quietly and sat on the arm of the couch by the door, with her arms folded across the chest.
It was about 11:00am and I was folding some clothes scattered on the bed whilst listening to soft tunes on my phone. I knew she’d come into the room but I didn’t look up. Then she said,
“So…how much is your school fee?”
My heart skipped a beat, and then began thumping fiercely against my thoracic cage.
I sighed. I hated this question: its sound, its tone, and worse still, the answer I was about to give her…
“Six hundred and seventy-five thousand naira.”
She sighed deeply and I swore I could hear the despair in its shallow depths. Summoning courage, I looked at her. At 62, mum looked so distraught and sad that I began to wonder what her B.P was at that moment…
“Do you have to pay it before you’ll be allowed into the hostel?” She asked.
“Yes” then I added “but one must not pay the whole thing; there’s a minimal amount that can be paid this 1st semester, then the rest will be paid off next semester”, to ease her pain.
“Are you to pay into the bank or directly to the school?”
“Yes, I have a customized teller from the school.”
“So, when are you going back?” she asked, as she rubbed her cheek absent-mindedly.
“This weekend, by God’s grace.” I replied
“This weekend…” she muttered.
“O.k.” then she left the room, slowly.
This was a scene that played each time I had to resume school for a new session or semester. It was my 7th semester in school, yet I hadn’t gotten used to the scene and the emotions it provoked in me. Each episode hurt like a fresh wound.
Sinking down on the bed, I tried so hard to ignore the familiar emotions that erupted, to no avail. My eyes began tearing up, so I went down on my knees (so no one would disturb me) and cried uncontrollably- silent quaking sobs that shook my entire core. Father, why? Why do I have to cry my eyes out before my fees are paid? Why didn’t you provide them with jobs after their retirement so we wouldn’t have to go through this? Why is everything in my life so stagnant? Haven’t we suffered enough? Why…why…why???
As I knelt there weeping, I felt a peaceful assurance that God knew everything going on and that He had a plan for my life and He’ll provide my needs at the right time. So I got up, wiped my face with a towel and continued my chores.
Much later, I went to the dining room to get a drink. As I walked through the sitting room, I saw my mum sitting on the sofa, with her legs crossed at the ankles, staring blankly ahead, lost in thoughts. I walked to her, rubbed her shoulder slowly and said
“Mummy, I hope you’re not thinking too much. Don’t worry, oh? God will provide.”
She smiled at me and I smiled back, and then walked into the dining room. Memories came flooding back, provoking my emotions again and causing my eyes to tear up. I bit back the tears and cautioned myself to remember God’s word and to trust in him ‘cause he’s got it all planned out. Then I sank into the rich depths of my thoughts were I found solace.
Ever since my dad retired (while I was in JSS2) and everything seemed to go downhill, I had made ‘thinking’ my faithful companion. Wait a sec! It’s not the kinda thinking that shoots up the B.P. No, it’s that kind which lifts your mind’s eye above the dilapidated state you’re in and makes you behold a brighter future, a beam of light at the end of a dark tunnel…
Yeah, that’s the kind I’m talking about!
So, for every situation I go through that tends to weigh me down, my mind forms thoughts that neutralize its destructive effect and restores peace, serenity and stability. It’s like a buffer!
Each time my parents tell me that there’s no money, I think of the time when I’d be a Doctor and send them money regularly so that they’d live in priceless comfort.
Each time I see my mum trekking home from church or taking a bike to the market, I remember what she told me few years ago. She had said “see, I’m not asking for so much. When you start working, I just want you to buy me a small Jeep; small, because I won’t have to carry any of you.” And now I think of the time when I’ll get her a brand new one.
Each time I see a tear in my parents’ clothing, I think of the time when my siblings and I would order for the richest garments from different parts of the world and have it delivered to them.
Each time I hear my siblings talk about their travails, I think of the time when they’d be experts, of world renown, in their chosen careers.
Each time I fail to answer a question in class or realize that I’m ignorant of the answer to a question asked, I think of the time when, as a lecturer in a Medical school, I’d strive to help academically-weak students.
Each time I’m hungry and broke, I think of the time when I’d visit my children (or my nieces and nephews) in school and take them out to eat. I think of how I wouldn’t want them to lack a dime.
Each time I look at my closet and the few clothes in it and I see my friends with their boxes of cloths, I think of the time when I’d design and make my own clothes to the admiration of all.
Each time I look at my spiritual life in its state of despair, I envision a time when I’d be so close to God that I’ll draw my every breath and word from him and hear him call me ‘Son..’ not just ‘my child’.
And each time I think that I may not pass or even write the 2ND MB, I envision myself as a world-renowned poet, writer, research specialist and Oncologist.
Don’t get me wrong; thinking doesn’t solve my problems. It’s something I indulge in to soothe my aching heart- like a Chinese balm. It reminds me of the fact that God sees, knows and has got a plan, and that despite the situation now, there’s a brighter day ahead. I believe everyone has a way of handling life’s situations- a balm that soothes the delicate core of man. It may be singing, dancing, reading God’s word, recounting his past works and his promises…it varies greatly but mine is in the golden depths of my thoughts.
But then, I don’t just think; I pray and work towards it.
Thinking is my ‘Le Chatelier’s principle’…THE ANTIDOTE.
UCHE-ORJI, Onyinyechi O.