The Things We Took For Granted (Part 2)

Let’s love one another in Africa and appreciate the things and people around us always. Maybe if we start with our friends and families, one day the love may go round the world and our lives will be happy and free.

The Things We Took For Granted (Part 2)

By Adeola Aderounmu

Often we forget to show how much we care for our families and friends. Sometimes it is very difficult to express in words or actions how much our friends and families mean to us.

Me and A friend-Onero and his wife

Me and A friend-Onero and his wife

Absence makes the mind to grow fonder. This is so true that we (then) begin to appreciate friends and families when they are separated from us.

Sometimes the separation is irreparable or permanent because death came calling unexpectedly. This can result to extreme sadness or even depression.

Sometimes during this summer I saw my eldest brother again. He came to visit me in Sweden. The last time we saw each other before this visit was also in Stockholm in the spring of 2005. Though l have travelled to Nigeria two times after that we did not meet.

No one will believe that l have never travelled to Abuja or anywhere in the North of Nigeria. It does not even look like it will happen soon. I am that small boy from Western Nigeria.

As l was driving to the airport to pick up my brother l was moved to tears. Suddenly it struck me that a lot has happened since the last time we met. There have been a lot of good things. However since we are getting older we have had our own share of family tragedies which as a matter of principle l never share on the social media. But l made an obituary for my mother in the village square.

Distance apart means that we have not been able to share our emotions regarding these tragedies. Though my eyes were swollen, I could not shut them tight long enough to enable the free flow of tears. I needed to keep my focus behind the wheels.

But in private, I’d wept many times. It’s human nature. In some of my stories I’d written that the men who commit suicide are those who refused to cry. They sealed their emotions and punish their souls giving them up to untimely death.

When people cry on behalves of those who commit suicide, they (the mourners) find the strength to move on because their tears become sacrifices to the gods.

For about 30 minutes which was approximately how long it took to drive to the airport l also reminisced on many of the good times we had together especially in Festac Town where we grew up.

Sometimes l don’t know where to place my memories about Lagos Mainland. Are they real or are they mere fantasies? Why do I always think that my version of the aftermath of the assassination of Murtala Mohammed in February 1976 was the correct version? Why does all the pandemonium in Surulere play back and forth in my head as if they happened yesterday?

At home, when we were boys, I remember the fights and the unnecessary contests for power and supremacy. You cannot avoid these things if you have many boys growing up together in a flat or in a house. I don’t want to remember my violent tendencies because sometimes the repercussions were terrible.

I always remember the football days so much that l wrote the article The Boys From Festac. A follow up to that article is necessary. If someone had told me that l can live without playing football on Saturday mornings and Sunday evenings, l would have responded: don’t go there!

Sometimes l don’t worry to tell people who never saw me play football how good l was because they won’t understand and it is of no use now.

Sometimes too l remember how some people find it difficult to believe my brilliance at school because of my small size and extremely playful attitude. I still wonder too!

If you live your adult life very far away from the closest people you grew up with, the tendency is that when you look back, you’d wish you could turn back the hands of clock.

There are so many things you wish you could do again. There are so many people you long for but whom you took for granted when they were at arm’s length to you. What about the things you took for granted too?

Life will continue to go on and nothing will last, not forever anyway. Life itself will remain transient and temporal.

Recently l heard a story from one of our elders here in Stockholm. Obviously it is one of those stories you heard whilst growing up in Nigeria. But when you are reminded of such a story after a long time, it helps. Mr. Salimonu Kadiri, a respected elder in Sweden spoke about the argument between death and money. It was a case that was taken to the king.

Money argued that nothing can be done without him and death reminded the king that he (death) would have the last say on everyone including the king.

This folklore from Yorubaland has a lot of implications.

People should think about their pursuits of wealth and the opportunity costs.

Perhaps if we sit back a bit and reflect on life holistically….just maybe…we will live our lives differently, spread some love and warmth everyday. Who knows? We may end up living closer to our families and spend more time with the people we love.

We definitely need to appreciate more the people around us including our friends and our families.  If we do, our regrets and disappointments will be minimal if we eventually are (unavoidably) separated from one another temporarily or permanently.

The other day l came home from Finland and made an unscheduled visit to a friend in another part of Sweden the same day. It was 467 km away. I left home late and arrived at his front door at about 10pm. His reaction was priceless. Shock will be an understatement when he opened his door to welcome me and my family. We even ate dinner before we left!

In Nigeria this would have been a normal thing. But in Sweden it is almost a taboo to visit someone without notifying them. It’s rare. On top of that we arrived at night like thieves. I don’t why people look too far and find it difficult to connect the individualistic traits of the western world with the high rate of depression.

When we grew up in Nigeria our lives were mainly communal in nature. We meet people everyday. We share with people everyday and we celebrate everyday. We took these things for granted because we thought we will always have them.

Since we do not have the same powers as the gods, we did not see the future. We were taught the 20 children cannot play together for 20 years. It wasn’t made so clear that the 20 children will have extreme difficulties to re-unite or re-group again once they have said goodbyes.

I see the struggle to re-unite or re-group in alumni or old students’ associations. It’s like a mission impossible though manageable from one event to another when different people show up.

I see the struggle to re-unite with friends. We have all received our fair shares of desperate mails from people on the social media asking if we are the right persons.

Even l have seen the struggle to re-unite families.

We struggle now because we took people and things for granted when we had them right in front of our faces. Some of our struggles are psychological because we are torn between two or three countries and wonder if we will ever make it back to settle in Nigeria. We miss home and the warmth of our friends and families especially.

It is now golden for us in the western world to meet our friends, families and even the people we knew first in this part of the world. Unfortunately, here, most friendships don’t last because individualism and western world syndrome gradually eat into our souls. We are in trouble. Where are our real friends? Where are our true families?

When Mr. Kadiri spoke, it was at a memorial for a man whom many people spoke well of. I’m not sure he heard so much of these good things from his friends and families when he was alive. The people who knew him or who were close to him may have taken things for granted.

How wonderful life would be if people start to say all these positive things to one another whilst they still can!

How can one preach that people should just shun bitterness and hatred towards one another?

I know. It is like a mirage to hope that the human race should place love and care above hatred and war.

Let’s love one another in Africa and appreciate the things and people around us always. Maybe if we start with our friends and families, one day the love may go round the world and our lives will be happy and free.

aderounmu@gmail.com

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