By Muyiwa Adetiba
The sun woke me up.
I had slept with the blinds raised up because I wanted to see the sun rise. But I was more tired than I thought and I over slept. But the sun found me as I hoped it would, and its warmth woke me up. The sun rise was gone, but the view that greeted me was still breathtakingly beautiful.
If I was a poet, I’d write a poem on this early morning phenomenon. If I was a creative writer, I’d pen a beautiful article on it. But since I am just your average journalist trying to earn a living, I will just stick to my everyday words knowing that whatever I write will not do justice to what I had just seen this morning.
I had just woken up at the Penthouse of a 21st story luxurious apartment building which overlooks the ocean in Miami, Florida. One side of the building is all glass so you could have a view of the Atlantic Ocean wherever you were. In front of me therefore, was this vast expanse of blue water.
It was calm, assured and majestic. The rising sun created a streak of light that shimmered on the languid ocean waves. On it were a few luxury boats of the rich and famous who had risen early to catch the cool early morning breeze. Moored by the sides of neighbouring high rise buildings were more boats.
Further down, and barely catching the eyes, was Port Lauderdale. By it, the biggest ship in the world was idling away — a fraction of its size due to the distance. In the air, were small planes that displayed several messages which were not easy to read because of their mirror- effect.
One started with ‘Happy Birthday to my …..’ (Incidentally, it was the 60th birthday of Arit Tunde-Imoyo, my wife’s childhood friend and my family had met up with hers in the US to honour her so this message created a laugh.)
On both sides of the building I had just woken up in — as far as the eyes can see — were trees and flowers, some of which were blooming with summer!
The landscape was dotted with lawn tennis courts, swimming pools and high end cars.
The Penthouse I was told, had been a regular haunt for Frank Sinatra, the blue eyed celebrated singer and his team of merrymakers in the sixties.
Remember his popular track DOING IT MY OWN WAY? That penthouse is, up till today, a haunt for moviemakers who look to take advantage of the view. I wished I could stay longer than the single day I was billed to be at the Penthouse for. But I know from experience that beauty is in its brevity. And that familiarity can indeed bring contempt.
My destination and residence for the next seven days, was the ship I had earlier sighted. ‘Oasis of the Seas’ is the biggest cruise ship ever built— and it will be so for a while. It can carry about 6300 passengers and 2400 crew members. Its weekly shopping bill for food is in the region of a million dollars and its fuel consumption is in the region of 300,000 gallons per week.
It has 17 decks (floors) that are open to its passengers and crew members. 17 decks that include 20 dining rooms and 24 bars and virtually all the everyday activities you can think of. 17 decks that try to satisfy every taste and idiosyncrasy; from the ordinary like fashion and jewelry shops, spa, and gym to the improbable like mountain climbing, golf and ice skating.
Food is 24/7. So is entertainment including casino. Most shows end at about mid-night and the night club a couple of hours later. The jogging track is 2.4 laps to the mile. It is available- without fear of being molested— day and night.
After the frenzy of the first couple of days, I soon found my rhythm and found my spot where I could feel nature the most. My favourite time was sunset whenever I could tear myself away from the numerous shows. My first time at this spot brought an Otis Redding song ‘sitting on the dock of bay’ to my head. Just substitute the dock of the bay with ‘the deck of the ship’ and the refrain to the song rang true.
It was my time to watch the rise and fall of the tides; the ebb and flow of the ocean waves; the monotony of the sea that mirrored the monotony of life.
As I sat in my serene corner, I felt insulated from the tumultuous world. Part, no most of me felt removed from the crises in Gaza, the avoidable mess in Ukraine that is escalating by the day, the worsening situation in the Middle East. Most importantly, I felt so far removed from home that I could almost breathe again.
I did not realize until now, how choking the corruption, the ineptitude, the sheer greed and selfishness of our leaders were to my psyche; how constricting Boko Haram and the games of politicians had become. So I sat on the deck of the ship in peace and watched the world roll away….
Of course when you are alone for a long while, thoughts come up and disturbing questions arise. Why are we the way we are? Are the minds that conceived this ship more fertile than ours? Are their brains more endowed than ours? Why are we wallowing in mediocrity? Why are we allowing the world to pass us by like the ocean waves? Why are we concerned with material acquisitions and things that will not out live us?
As I looked at these beauties that were created by God but harnessed by man, I thought of those who have put more premium on the acquisition of knowledge and I felt sad for my country and its coming generations; for my race and its future.