By Debbie Ogunjobi
A VERY long time ago, there used to be a television series called the invisible man. In a science experiment a man had experienced some sort of chemical reaction that made him invisible. With the help of a government agency and his scientist friends and wife, a mask of synthetic resin was made to form a face, neck and hands and any other part of his appearance so he could live as normal a life as possible till a cure was found.

The series captured my young mind way back then and I was intrigued by the idea of a man who was for all intents and purposes naked if he wanted to go unnoticed. The irony of the idea was the concept of a man, fully naked and without guile or sense of shame, secure in the knowledge that no one could see him. It becomes more interesting if you juxtapose the concept to the mind, where some of us walk around naked and bruised but still remain unnoticed and unacknowledged.

The television series I am talking about was in the 70s but I have never completely forgotten the concept of invisibility. As time passed and I grew older, I mastered the art of invisibility in my mind matters, I could be completely naked and broken in my emotions but I had built enough barriers and several layers of masks that I had become invisible, people only saw what I wanted them to see and nothing else. Over the years, I have come across one or two people who had seen past the masks to catch a glimpse of the real me but the occasions have been few and so far between that three quarters of my entire lifetime have been spent invisible.

Different families

The one person who truly sees me has been my closest friend and her view is clear cut because we somehow echo each other’s lives. We are both caretakers in our different families and have to live up the expectations of quite a number of people, who have come to see us as ATM machines, confidantes, advisers and counselors.

I have always been grateful to be a giver and a supporter but this year has seen me pausing to take a second look at people and silently wonder how come it’s so easy to forget me? Don’t I get to benefit from concern, a little generosity and some counsel? I’m not great at pomp and pageantry but this year has seen me reassess my level of generosity to certain individuals and it would take serious grace for me to be really vested in giving to the level I would have ordinarily done in the past.

A couple of months ago I had celebrated a milestone and while it had been my choice to go away on a spa retreat, I had been unpleasantly surprised to be all but forgotten apart from some very nice phone calls and texts. God has been truly generous and while I can afford most things within reason, I found it rather distasteful that except for two people, everyone assumed I had everything I could possibly want and therefore gave themselves license to dismiss.

It seemed I was no longer invisible in my emotions and feelings; I was invisible even in their affections. By some coincidence my best friend was feeling the same, we both had the blues; the “what about me blues?” Against this backdrop I had to go on a very and I mean very long haul journey, several continents away and I was knocked for six by an unexpected act of kindness by a face and friend, I hadn’t seen in yonks.
Apart from the natural delight at seeing someone I was very fond of, I was completely taken aback by the thoughtfulness and compassion this person just doled out.

It made an otherwise black and white period awash with color and reconnected me back to the reality of the blessing that is my situation or lot in life. I am actually strong and do enjoy taking care of my loved ones. I think I have this megalomaniac tendency of wanting to do great and grand gestures and sometimes expecting it in return.

While I didn’t exactly enjoy the feeling of being forgotten, I can relate to people thinking there is absolutely no point in giving someone who looks like they have everything anything.

A couple of years ago, I had wanted to give my pastor a birthday present and I had mulled it over and over before deciding on a phone, which I eventually didn’t even buy because I assumed he would be so inundated with cards and better phones he wouldn’t notice. You can imagine my horror when I learnt sometime later that he had not been inundated with cards and presents because most people thought the way I did and hadn’t bothered; he must have felt very Invisible on that birthday, just like I did not too long ago.

The reality is that presents and other gestures of kindness matter a great deal not because of their commercial value but because they say we are visible, that we matter and people care.

I will take note from now to never deny people gestures of affection just because I believe they have more than enough. So to those who plan to dismiss a certain calibre of persons this season because they seem to have it all, think again, no one really wants to be invisible…


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.