By Fr Pat Amobi Chukwuma
During my school days, I rarely dabbled into any examination question that says, “Compare and contrast.” After leaving school for so many years now, the question has resonated in my medulla oblongata as I am ageing to the point of no return. Indeed, nothing happens for nothing. The frog does not run in the daytime for nothing. In other words, there is no smoke without fire.
The other day I noticed a thick smoke emanating from the back wall of my house. I was tensed up and afraid of my house being guttered by the fire. Immediately, I ran down with a fresh fire extinguisher to extinguish the fire producing the thick smoke. Surprisingly, what I saw baffled me. I saw a boy of fourteen years old, smoking dangerous hemp whose thickness was just like a tree trunk.
His eyes were sparkling like hellfire. I overpowered him with physical and divine strength. Then I extinguished the fire on his mouth with the equipment in my hand. Afterwards I began to bind and cast the evil spirit in him. He fell flat on the ground and was gasping for breath. I rushed back to my house and brought a container of Holy Water, which I sprinkled all over his body and said, “I deliver you in the Name of Jesus Christ the Saviour!” As he was rolling on the ground,
I saw a number of demons coming out of him. I commanded them not to enter into my house, but rather to enter into the gully erosion behind my rectory. At last the boy came back to his senses. I took him back to his dejected parents. They received him with mixed feelings of sadness and joy. They compared and contrasted his condition before and now. They were full of appreciation for the return of their prodigal son.
Where am I heading to? The insecurity situation in our country Nigeria is getting worse and worse every day. In fact, sleeping with one eye opened is no more tenable. Invariably, we are presently sleeping with two eyes opened. The concept of sleeping-muruanya has metamorphosed into awaking-awake. If you compare and contrast the past and present situation, you discover that the past was better.
What of the primitive days and these modern days? There was scarcely any fear of the unknown during the primitive days. But in this modern time, the fear of the unknown is the beginning of death. In the abode of the primitive men, security of lives and properties reigned supreme. In the modern time enhanced by science and technology, insecurity is the bane of the day.
The primitive man slept with two eyes closed while the modern man sleeps with two eyes opened. The primitive men had no infrastructural amenities, but they had peace of mind. On the other hand, the modern men are basking in infrastructural amenities but have no peace of mind.
During my childhood days, there was no electricity in my town. We enjoyed sunlight during the day and moonlight during the night. By then we had little worries. Today, electricity is found in every nook and corner while crime is on the increase and worries are beyond compare. Naturally, light dispelled crimes in those olden days. Unfortunately in these modern days, light breeds more crimes.
In those days we asserted in Igbo language, “Abali di egwu” (Night is dangerous). The reverse is the case today. It is now: “Ehihie di egwu” (Day is dangerous). As I was deliberating on this topic and putting them down in words last Monday morning, I heard sporadic gunshots in the neighbourhood. For fear of the unknown, I hid myself under my bed and was panting. My hand was jerking as I continued to write under the bed. I utilized the light from my computer screen to visualize. In those olden days, the devil and his agents operated in darkness. Nowadays, they operate in both darkness and light. Thus, there is no hiding place presently. The fear of night and day is the order of the moment.
In those olden days we went about freely and securely during day and night. We only feared evil men and evil spirits at night. In these modern days, going about during day and night is risky. We fear evil men more than evil spirits. Many innocent persons going about their businesses have been kidnapped or gunned down here and there. Security men are not spared.
Nowadays, I sprinkle myself with Holy Water and make a perfect Act of Contrition before going out. On my way I chorus, “Lord, into your hands I commend my journey.” When eventually I come back, I prostrate myself before the Divine Majesty in appreciation. God never sleeps. Since God helps those who help themselves, we must be watchful and prayerful always.
Some years ago, the mobile phone was used exclusively by rich men. The poor masses wrote ordinary letters and send them through post offices, which took days or weeks to reach the recipients. At times they got lost on transit, especially if the contents had weight. Nowadays, the mobile phone is at the reach of every Tom and Harry. Even illiterate poor men and women have it. An unlettered woman was instructed by her son that flashing does not cost any money.
So she should always flash him whenever she wants to talk to him. Whenever she flashes, the son cuts it and calls her back and the conversation goes on as long as necessary. The woman calls others and tells them that she is flashing while the interaction lasts for long thereby consuming her credit. That’s by the way. The mobile phone makes communication easier and quicker.
It is an advantage. Unfortunately, the disadvantages carry heavy weight. Some people use it to tell lies of there where-about. Some save the phone number and call their side chicks with unsuspecting funny names. One married man saved the phone number of her side chick with ‘Mummy.’ A certain girl saved her boyfriend’s number with ‘My Desire.’ On the contrary, the boyfriend saved his girlfriend’s number with ‘Ekeuke,’ which means a useless dog.
The girl got mad when she discovered the ugly name her Desire saved her number with. The friendship terminated on that fateful day. Today, kidnappers make use of their victims’ mobile phones to negotiate for millions of ransom from the victims’ acquaintances. Thus kidnapping thrives these days than before the advent and general use of mobile phones.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, there was relative peace all over the country. Insecurity did not rear its ugly head. There was only fear of contracting the deadly disease. Some measures were subsequently observed. We were advised to stay at home, to avoid crowd, avoid handshake, wear face mask, etc.
Today there are no distinct measures to tackle the insecurity starring us violently in the face. The government fails to protect us and there is no face mask against the bloody insecurity claiming innocent lives daily here and there. Without mincing words, the days of Covid-19 were better than these days of insecurity. If you compare and contrast between the two, I choose Coronavirus. There is no way one can compare sleep with death.