By Debbie Ogunjobi

I had not meant to write of my experiences in the past couple of weeks but by some weird coincidence I got permission to do so by a most unlikely source; the lead actor in what was a tragic-comedy of sorts.  Last year had come with its share of difficulties but it seemed to be ending on a great note as most of thre issues that made it hard were all resolving themselves just as December was rolling away.

I remember telling my closest friend how great it was to finally be at peace and not be worried about the issues that seemed determined to keep my teeth on edge. I must have spoken way too soon as a bolt came out of the blues that knocked me and mine for six.

When I wrote about the belly of the fish, I was encouraging myself as much as anyone else, I was firmly in the belly of the fish and so were my loved ones. We found ourselves in the belly of the fish as a very beloved member of our rather small world was battling for his life, while we all besieged the heavens for mercy.

There are some things that can’t be predicted; if I was a betting person I would have lost the bet that would have placed me on a plane on the 31st of December, travelling to a country I had never been, being as sick as a dog  (I had a bad case of the flu) and not having a clue as to when I would be back. Yet there I was on that very day, sending happy New Year text messages to everyone as we taxied off to an uncertain future, believing God that my big brother who had been evacuated the day before would be fine and make it into the New Year.

It wasn’t funny in the least, strangers in a city rife with violent crime, to keep vigil and look after the sick, while we got used to a beautiful city, where I discovered to my horror, that being a Nigerian was almost a capital offence. I will not be naive and pretend to be unaware of the chequered reputation of the country but I certainly was not prepared to become a legitimate target for assassination or attack for being of a particular nationality.

They say you learn everyday and whoever “they are” are absolutely right. In the past few weeks, I have learnt that life cannot be taken for granted as things can take a sudden turn (not always for good) and you are left reeling as you frantically try to grab the pieces of a life that is literarily being torn apart. I have also learnt that those who are constantly in your face when times are good can suddenly withdraw when it’s inconvenient and they think you are done for.

I have discovered that those we often dismiss turn out to be the solid friends who stand shoulder to shoulder with you to fight your battles. I have learnt that the good Samaritan is quite frankly not a close friend or member of the family but an absolute stranger who takes on a burden that is not his or hers and brings the bible to life. Most of all, I have learnt just how delicate we are as human beings and just how little we are in the very big picture that is the universe.

What happened? How did I get here? Were questions I had to carefully explain to my very groggy brother a few days back as I began to recount the nightmare that began on the 15th of December!
Most of my explanations were carefully edited as the truth in this case was not necessarily going to be liberating but even I did not have a reasonable and logical explanation to give.  It had begun with an aneurism that led to a craniotomy, which progressed to septicaemia and so on and so forth.

The greatest lesson of all is one I have been preaching from the inception of this column and that is how important it is to live in the moment and live every moment as if it could literarily be the last as a bolt out of the blue could really make it the very last.

By some coincidence just a couple of weeks before the aneurism, I had promised to make more time to spend with my brother. Before he got married we had been very close and after the marriage I had become best friends with my sister in law but he had stopped being my everyday gist buddy like before. I hadn’t noticed that I had actually ignored him, till that visit to the house and we ended up talking for hours, he actually took the day off just to stay with me and I had resolved from then to make out time for some quality sibling bonding. It’s not often God lets you choose your family but this one person Providence has  been kind enough to let me choose and I continue to pray that I am given the opportunity to redeem the time and make good the moments..

NB: I humbly apologise for not responding to all of the texts you have all been kind enough to send but sadly the number doesn’t roam.

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