In the early 80s, I was addicted to Ray Ekpu’s, the late Dele Giwa’s and the late Andy Akporugo’s newspaper columns. One of Akporugo’s articles, which my young mind ranked among his best, was titled: “Frailty of Power” or something close to that.
He narrated his previous experience when he went to visit the Second Republic Civilian Governor of Bendel State (Current Edo State and Delta State), Prof. Ambrose Alli. He spent hours before he could see him. But on the visit preceding the penning of the article, he had an expressway to Alli. When he met him, he was alone with his head bowed. All the hangers-on and praise singers had evaporated. He had just lost the 1983 governorship election to Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia of the National Party of Nigeria.
Only recently, former President Goodluck Jonathan cried out a few days after he lost the presidential election that his friends had deserted him, even while he was still a sitting president. Lesser mortals like me have had multiple tastes of this experience, but one incident would suffice. After I put in my letter of resignation in my place of work in 1996, somebody whom I used my position to help realize her dream came around. “Francis, I learnt you have resigned,” she said. “Yes o!” I responded. “Anyway, you know where to find me if you need me,” she said, as she got up, ran her hand in her behind to straighten her skirt and left. “I will never need you,” I muttered defiantly to myself.
Unfortunately, it looks like it is in the nature of man, at least many of us, to remember only the good done them today, past good deeds are often interred with the past. It is in realization of this that some Urhobo-speaking people of Delta State name their children Eserinone (today’s good deeds), the title of the article. Sometime ago, I felt pretty depressed after watching a television programme on Crime and Investigation Channel. A man was in jail for a crime he claimed he did not commit. Nobody except his wife believed him. She started the long and tortuous journey of proving her husband’s innocence. After over 10 years in jail, with the help of modern technology (forensics), the woman was able to prove that her husband did not commit the crime he was convicted of and the man was freed. Sadly not too long after he got out of jail, they divorced. Was it just another case of eserinone or they grew apart these years he was in jail?
It was very common in those days and it is still happening. A spouse/ fiancé(e) makes enormous sacrifices to see the other half through school. By the time he/she graduates, he/she dumps him/her because he/she no longer “befits” his/her new status. Is it a case of eserinone or plain meanness? To add insult to injury, there have been cases where the “elevated” spouse asks the other to name how much he/she spent so that the money can be refunded. Is it about money only? What about the time spent; can it also be refunded? What about the emotional investment?
It is also in the nature of man to focus only on the negatives to the detriment of positives. This is another meaning of eserinone. You have been doing so many good things for your spouse or family member, but you err on one occasion, or so he/she thinks, and that single transgression wipes out the entire bank account of goodwill built over the years. Steven Covey calls it emotional bank account. That is the genesis of some of these cases of messy divorces or fierce family feuds.
Tragically we all complain that others are guilty of eserinone, what about you? Where is your former boss who gave you your first job, after you had grown frustrated of being required to have a minimum of two years experience before being offered employment? My friend and former classmate, Kehinde Bakare, and I used to joke that how are we supposed to have this two years experience when nobody is willing to give us an opportunity to acquire it? That former boss gave you the platform to acquire the much-needed experience, but you parted ways in acrimonious circumstances a few years later. But do you still remember he gave you your break and without him, you would probably not have been the bigwig you are today? Have you gone back to make peace? Eserinone.
You know what? Ninety nine point nine (99.9) of us are guilty of eserinone in one form or the other, at one time or the other. The only difference is that some of us are habitual Eserinone. But whether sometime or always, all of us have come short. So there is no reason to weigh yourself down with grudges over something you are also guilty of. Rather adopt the portion of our Lord’s Prayers which says, “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.” Make it your daily companion, mean it and live and you will just be cool. In the alternative, remove the speck from your eyes so that you can see brightly to remove the log from your spouse’s, brother’s or neighbour’s eyes.