By Paschal Chisom Obi
Every moment of our life is as important as the air we breathe. There are times of joy and sorrow and in each moment, we encounter people, places and things. Appreciation of these moments creates lovely memories. It brings joy, clarity, breakthrough, and new-insight to our lives. It breaks the barrier of nationality, religion, age, race, culture, and background. Thus, reorienting people away from misinformed concepts to well informed ideas that will help them live well with others in the society.
Some of these moments of encounter need to be utilized. The reason why some people run into mid life crisis is that they fail to appreciate some important moments in their life. “Life is a gift,” Says Rev. Fr. Herbert Opara. Appreciate the good and bad times.” Hence, before you complain about the taste of your food, think of someone who has nothing to eat. And when depressing thoughts seem to get you down, put a smile on your face and thank God you are alive and still around. How many people can still recall their first day in secondary school, how they met the first love of their lives. How many people can recall with certainty the happiest day in their life. How many still remember their childhood games, friends and shallow thinking faculties.
I can never forget those good old days, instead of going to fetch the water which I was asked to, I would hang around playing football or 'game boy'. We always made boast of the braveness of our dad. Then we enjoyed visiting our neighbors, classmates, friends and relatives. This was a time when everyone treated the other person like family. We climbed from one mango tree to the other, we drank water from taps without sieving, we rode tyres, constructed cars, and wheel along the road. We played in the rain for hours with only pants and singlets. In school, we shared and drank ice cream with our hands unwashed. Indeed, God was our saviour then, He still is.
At home we acted as Mama and Papa, police and thief, and hide and seek; which warrants that whoever is seen be shot at. I felt angered if someone consistently refused to die. We ate together using the same plate, bathed together, and shared the same bath towel, soap and room. We sometimes, even shared the same clothes, or handed it on as an inheritance to our junior siblings. What about you, did you have similar experience(s)?
As a kid, during holiday period, I enjoyed the moon light tales from my late grandparents. Always beginning with “Once upon a time.” We heard stories that explained why the crab has a shell, the bat flies at night and also about wars between Spirits and mortals, between the aerial and terrestrial animals, between the hunter and the lion, and so many others. We chanted joyful and sometimes sorrowful songs while we listened. I also read many interesting, motivational and inspirational books which helped in shaping my thinking. Some of them are, “Things Fall Apart, The Gods Are Not to Blame, Eze goes to school, Ọkpa àkụ̀ eri eri, Ọnwụ egbughi onye ụwa, Macbett, Romeo and Juilet, Lawal in Macmillian English, Edet in Calabar, Simbi and so many others. These novels, stories and tales contain deep mysteries that reflect our culture, history and values.
In my elementary school days at Hand maids Infant Jesus, Awka, we longed for the Friday Morning recreations, when together with our various class teachers we sing, “Willi Willi Willi, Onye elele anya n'azụ, Who will be my friend and so many others.” It was really fun. We also longed for the Inter-house sports, graduation ceremony and Christmas party. During break time, we rushed to be first to use the school swing. Then in class, we became superman only when the teacher flogged us in front of the girls. We enjoyed coming back from school in groups so as to continue with our gist, and in some cases due to the fear of kidnapper (Ńdị́ ǹtọ̀). Thursday evening Supper Story program was our best channel and NTA channel 5 and CNN was our cartoon network. We all bragged about the kind of car we will drive in the nearest future, our aimed status and contribution in and to the society.
At home, we became 'Saints' and 'Angels' whenever Christmas was fast approaching. We would burn the mid night candle just to get the best grades, we no longer waited to be told what to do, we wanted to know what needed to be done, in fact, we practically expected to be sent on errands. Our parents' News channels became our favorites.
I also had ugly experiences which are mostly connected with girls. I still recall being flogged by a male teacher at the assembly ground. This was on a cold Monday morning. I was flogged because I was struggling the queue with Oficha Stephanie. I refused to cry because I was in-front of the other pupils.
A similar incidence occurred when I was in primary 5. Our computer teacher was well known as a wicked man because of the harsh and heartless way he disciplined students. Unfortunately for me, he caught me making noise inside the computer room. Out of anger, he gave me 6 hot strokes of cane. I received an accolade from my classmates for my endurance and ability not to cry. The pain was too severe that I swallowed the cry in my heart for almost 15 minutes. It happened that when we went back to our class, Chiemelie Edebeatụ; the girl sitting next to me looked at me with pity, touched one of the cane scares and said, “Sorry Chiii.”
She did this twice and at the third time, I burst out in tears. This time, it was between me and her; I tried not to attract other people's sympathy.
Afọma Ahụmaraeze was another strong and intelligent girl, feared because of her braveness. She became more popular when she beat Ebubechukwu; the termed strongest boy in our class. I was the class prefect and always designated my assistant; Amarachukwu to write the names of noise makers. Afọma always engineered the noise, but her name will not always appear at the list. I came to understand that my assistant prefect was afraid of her. I took it up and bravely wrote her name, she was flogged by the teacher and during the break time she came boldly and said to me, “If not because of one thing, I would have beaten you up.” I did not care to reply her, and till today, I still don't know the reason for sparing her blows on me? If you know please tell me.
Beloved, I always wish to have these experiences again, but this is impossible. I only have to enjoy the sweet memories. Dear reader, life is a gift. Thus, live it and enjoy it, celebrate it and be fulfilled.