By Debbie Olujobi

A story is told of a young lady who by all accounts has the world at her feet.She is beautiful, newly graduated, very articulate and sought after. She belongs to a prominent family, a father at the top of his profession and a sister who dines with kings. Her mother died giving birth to her, so she had been raised by her sister and a revolving door of stepmothers.

She grew up admiring her beautiful and very glamorous older sibling and lives in her shadow; more than anything she seeks her approval and wants to be just as beautiful and glamorous. At the age of twenty five, she had only spent the four years of higher education away from her sister and had developed strong feelings for a fellow student. The feelings were mutual and perhaps if her life’s script had been written by a benevolent fairy they would have lived happily ever after. Her script however was written by a vain, selfish and insecure society lady bent on recreating her waywardness in her naive protégée!

At the end of her education, on her return home, the young man is summarily dismissed by sister dearest; he had no pedigree, no money and did not fit in. Lacking the strong will to stand up for her self, she goes along with it and is instead groomed to marry a very rich, very good looking northerner. It made sense, her late mother was from one of the prominent families in the north. As you can guess, it was a large society wedding and she moved into a palatial home and everything should have been fine except for one little thing; intimacy.

Apparently the dashing young prince did not get the memo on intimacy between man and wife; he had a preference for a man and man option! So she becomes a bird trapped in a golden cage. He was apparently very nice and generous on all other fronts but he just couldn’t touch her. When the situation becomes intolerable she confided in her sister and is shocked to see no surprise. She knew!! The marriage was a merger, she was the facade of respectability bought for the prince at a very large price. The only advice she gets is to behave and discreetly seek her pleasures in the arms of any other man willing.

Very many years later, levels had changed. She came across that young man she had so loved back in the day and he was very accomplished. He now worked for a multinational concern and lived with his young family in the big apple. He was a key note speaker at an international summit in Lagos. She said she did not really hear his speech; she just looked at him and reminisced; she allowed her self the luxury of imagining how wonderful life would have been if she had followed her heart and stood up to her sister. She did her best to avoid him seeing her but fate was most cruel; they were staying on the same floor and she ran into him on her way out the next morning.

He was genuinely pleased to see her but was in a hurry to catch a flight, so they could only exchange fleeting pleasantries.He showed her pictures of his pregnant wife and their son and they waved goodbye. I should perhaps tell you she had left her sham of a marriage and was now very single and in my view a tad bitter. The yearning she felt when she described the young man she jilted felt like a fall from paradise. She honestly believes he was her chance at happiness; her paradise lost!

Presence of mind is a virtue and while God knows I have made my share of serious gaffs; I have always believed that life offers more than one chance at joy, at paradise! The women I describe are not fiction; they are very real. I am not a fan of the older sister anymore but I also used to look up to her. She travelled at the drop of a heart and knew the rich and famous the world over. International designers sent her private invitations to preview collections and she just seemed to have it all. Just like her sister I also only saw the glamour back then, I didn’t probe the facade to discover that she was nothing but a good time girl with zilch education and an unscrupulous desire for money no matter the cost. In her fifties now, she defies time by still being beautiful but her insecurity is a lot more obvious as she still believes money answereth all things. Ironically she is the one married with children while her sister remains single and childless.

If we all agree that paradise is a joyous state of contentment; then its possible to live it while on earth. The twist of fate is that we never actually realise we are living in paradise till we lose it. I hold the opinion that you cant appreciate the sweet if you don’t taste the bitter. That mindset has helped me bounce back from disappointments, heartbreaks and failures.

Any situation can be paradise if we have the presence of mind to be grateful and appreciative. In this last week Kenya has seen hell unfold on television; the world has been riveted to television with scenes of carnage and mayhem and I can safely say for those involved, the few minutes before they stepped into West-gate mall was paradise. I believe in 2nd, 3rd and even 100s of chances; thats what makes life paradise.We can start again and who knows? Is anything actually lost if we are meant to have it? A beautiful old lady once told me a truth I hold dear even after many decades. “What God wont give you, no man can give you, and what God will give you no man can take from you! That includes paradise.

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