I lost my biggest fan (part 3)

After the news of my mum circulated back in November last year, I received a plethora of calls from people. Some days I would turn off my phone to avoid the calls as very few helped and mostly added to my woes. The calls normally left me more emotional. I needed to avoid thinking or talking about the situation but people just wanted to talk. I appreciate some of these people, they were from genuinely concerned people. But just like a guy who called me few hours after my motor accident in August last year asking how it happened, some of these calls were more about sourcing information than genuine.

I remember leaving home to avoid the crowd on Sunday, November 29th, just a day after losing mum and traveling to Osun state to be with my girlfriend and two of my good friends (my alma matar is in Osun state, also my hometown). I left following day again for Abuja to be with my sister. Throughout the stay in Osun, I avoided telling my friends what had happened to me. They were two jolly fellows and I purposely chose to be with them because their lifestyle was bereft of my own sadness and I needed to overcome my grief. Only my lady knew what had happened.

Once I got to Abuja I sent texts to my good friends pouring out my mind. I felt it was better that way, saying it in their presence would have spoiled their mood & also make them give me special treatment out of pity. I don’t like self-pity. Somehow and in ways I can’t explain, a lot of my colleagues and old classmates heard and more calls came in. An old girlfriend who probably missed me used that opportunity to also call me. Some people might have enjoyed the attention but not me. The condolences that came pouring in nearly made me overwhelmed with sorrow.

The 5th of December was the burial day and I had to go back home. Throughout the previous week and this week I had been away from social media and writing. All I did was compose poems on the night I lost my mum. I couldn’t concentrate on anything as serious as writing or reading. Moreover, I’ve realised I don’t do well when under too much emotion so it was not advisable writing or posting anything for the public to see. Those periods were really trying periods for me and my family.

After the burial procession came the annoying part, every stranger, friends, foe and villain alike trying to give you an advice or two on how to now live your life afresh without a mother. I find it really annoying and amusing at the same time because a lot of these advisers still have both their parents living. Moreover, human conditions vary and your personal antidote might not work for another person. Everyone wasn’t so annoying. Those people who knew me well enough before mum’s demise merely hugged me and or prayed and left, knowing fully well my mum taught me well & I would maintain her standards in her absence.

But the bulk of the advice came from total strangers. Some were part of the extended family but I saw them as strangers because they don’t know anything about me neither were they close to my late mum. That’s why I think they talked more, that was all they had, talks. After the long minutes of giving advice, they request for my phone number with a promise to always call to check on me (most of them haven’t called for once).

Whenever something bad happens like losing one’s loved one, you get all sort of insights from people. The truth is all these advice cannot be incorporated as it usually reflects the views and position of the advisor. That’s why I always preach having an independent mind and incorporating good lessons of life. With that, you worry less what people say.

Every good example worthy of emulation is in my late mother. I remember when my late grandmother (my mother’s mum) died and we were planning her burial ceremony in March 2011. A member of our church was given the contract of printing all the invitation cards, pamphlets, posters, and burial agenda. This man got paid in full, spent the funds but didn’t deliver the works even a week to the ceremony. My uncle got him arrested and he came begging with his wife. When I saw the man I was angry and fuming and thought my mother would do worse.

I was surprised when she gave the guests her full hospitality, accepted their apology and even gave out money afresh for the work to be done by the same man! I learned the greatest lesson of my life that day which was to show kindness and courtesy even to those who wouldn’t do same to you. Jesus Christ preached something like that during the revered Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:43-48) but my mum showed me the practicality of that sermon.

I lost my biggest fan (part 2)

I have come across many men who don’t like their mothers. In fact, I know of a brother who despises his mother more than varmin. His grievances lies in the fact that his mother had given birth to him when she was about 16 years old, couldn’t marry then so the man(who was much older) left & she had to marry later and have other kids with another man. Up till now, I don’t think this brother has met his real father & that probably gets to him.

Even the fact that the mother has struggled to send him to medical school cannot make him forgive her for the mistake she made in her youth, and he’s not taking care of the old woman. Issues like this abound, and in a world where mistakes upon mistakes must be made till true discovery and consciousness of the self occurs, I presume things like these will keep happening.

But let the man who still has both or one of his parents rejoice, for he won’t fully understand the blessings he has till he loses one or both. I’m in the category of those who have lost one and I must say it here that I’ve learnt to appreciate more my father (even with his many imperfections) ever since my mother died. Guys tend to be closer to their mum while girls tend to attach more with the dad, although there is no statistics backing this up as it could be vary according to home circumstances.

In my own case, I happened to feel more attachment to my mother. I grew up following her around, my father being a devoted policeman never really had time to coach me. I learnt cooking early as I was always in the kitchen with mum, not to actually learn but to just be there. In school, I was soft and almost a sissy. If not for my academic brilliance, I could have passed for a dumb fool. I’m not saying girls are fools, but for a boy like me to act girlish, be chubby, “look dull & move sluggishly” like my headmaster always said, could easily pass for dumbness.

Whenever I look back I always wish those days could come back so I can be my mum’s little boy once again. Those were the best years of my life, she had true love in her eyes for me, the pampering, the caring. There were no worries or expectations from me whatsoever, not like now when the whole (extended) family calls just to ask when I’d go to law school & be their first lawyer. It’s a lot of pressure these days. Childhood days are the best anybody could ever have, especially with the right family and a caring mother.

Yes, mother because that’s all you actually need. Even a poor mother will do anything to see her children taken cared of but a poor dad might just not bother, men lack empathy naturally. Our emotions are dry like a sadist’s joke. Look at the brother’s story illustrated above, his mother even though illiterate and poor, knew he was her responsibility and ensured she studied medicine. In Nigeria, it’s not convenient financially to study medicine. The textbooks alone are very expensive.

My best friend in the university was also raised by a single mum after their dad left. Their mum who is a nurse and businesswoman never remarried yet they’ve all gone to college. My friend studied law. It wasn’t easy but it was done. These are the things mothers do. Another side of how lovely women are is seen when they’re widows or the man is irresponsible. When a young man’s wife dies he remarries but not the same for women, they ‘marry’ their children in such circumstances. I don’t know how men always manage to look for a new woman once they mourn their ex-wife for few weeks but the women just stay put (especially African women).

Mothers gamble on their children at times. I can’t count how many times I made mistakes & my father didn’t utter a single word of encouragement but mother kept believing even though she worried deep down. She would ask if I was sure of the decisions I wanted to take, once I was sure she’d back me. She was that lovely.

She was also great. One of my deepest regret about her demise is concerning how many information she took to the grave. She had implored me severally to write her memoir but I never recorded most of her recollections, I can only trust my memory on some stories. Who could have thought she’d die so suddenly at 55? That’s why I feel for those who don’t have a cordial relationship with their parents. You’d never know how much you miss them till their gone. When we abandon our parents because they hurt our feelings then how’re we better than them afterall?

Few days to my mum’s death, we were not even on good terms. We had a misunderstanding the previous week, I was not supposed to be around her due to how much I was pained. Yet, she died in my arms. We were holding hands while she laid in bed. Ever since, I’ve been imagining what if I held on to my usual sense of right and wrong and was angry with her till she died? What if I wasn’t with her when she breathed last and later got the news from someone? I would have lived the rest of my life in deep regret and no succour.

I still live in regret to some extent. The fact that she would not be around to see me fulfill all my dreams makes me sad. The fact that no matter how much money I go on to make I’ll never be able to spend it on her lavishly makes me sick. The fact that I’ll never be able to go on a world tour with my mother is enough bitter pill to swallow. Hence, I see no reason why anybody who has their mum or dad alive can’t forgive these folks and move on with life, whatever the mistakes they’ve made before.

I’ve realised parents are not perfect human beings just like children aren’t also perfect. And in fact, most times these parents actually try their best to understand us but the generational gap could really be an issue in communication especially when you’re more educated than them. If I have a choice of either seeing my mum again or holding on to her mistakes, I’d most definitely prefer to have her back and overlook all her shortcomings as a parent. Matter of fact, she never even really had shortcomings!

I LOST MY BIGGEST FAN (part 1)

Those who read/spy/enjoy my blog would have noticed the long hiatus since Nov. 26 when I last posted. Well, the reason is that just two days after that last post, I lost my mother to the cold hands of death. Ever since, I’ve had what writers popularly call brain-block which made me unable to do things I love most such as reading and writing. All I’ve been able to do is think, think and think. I’ve never been more depressed in my life. At a stage in every man’s life, one or two event will occur that will make you question your own mental strength and religious faith. My mother’s demise has been one of such events in my life which shook me.

Do you know everybody would one day die? We’re all doomed to die someday, whether we like it or not. You ask how I know so? I won’t even use any of the hundreds of passages or verses in the Holy book which points to that fact. Rather, I’d merely use the one logical answer that should appeal to any rational mind. Now, I know everybody is bound or doomed to death simply because if my mother could die, then everybody will! I’ve never met anyone who feared death more than her. She didn’t want to go, she fought the illness for about four years. My mother, even when battling with the terrible sickness that nearly paralyzed her body, was always hopeful. She was always so full of life! She was meant to come to this world when she did and make all the impacts she was able to make in a short time. She died at 55.

Though she had little education, she used to stay up at night with me in those early years while I did my school assignments. I didn’t even know her academic qualifications then as I was too young to understand, but her mere presence always made me calm as I did my work. Few years later when I read something similar on Dr Ben Carson’s autobiography, I simply felt déjà vu. My mum had done the same thing his mother did for him! I have so many fond memories of her. I was able to be the best student in my preparatory and high schools simply because of my mother’s help. As a kid and the last born of my family, she was very fond of me. Whenever she wanted to do her hair, we went together. My barber’s shop was side-by-side with her stylist’s salon. So we used to wait for each other while our hairs were being done. She was my best friend, my one & only ‘woman friend’ and my biggest fan!

My mother would have allowed me if I wanted to be a footballer or musician. She was that understanding with me! She’d simply ask me, “are you sure?” and that would be final once it’s what I really want. My mother bought my elder sister her first piano even though my dad was seriously against anything asides academics for his children. When I was in SS2, my mother ‘gambled’ on me and got me a NECO form (my dad was also against it) which is why I passed O’level before high school graduation & my final year was just a formality! I owe everything to you mother. I can’t possibly write down everything you’ve done for me mum! I just know we’d meet again, soon.

I wouldn’t want to end this article without mentioning how I got my writing grove back. Or didn’t I say earlier that I’ve had a brain-block for 2 months? Well, me being me, I love going out casually and hanging out in those ‘lowkey’ places most of you will probably never visit. I don’t know why I cherish my interaction with ‘everyday people’, probably due to my humble beginning. But one thing I’ve learnt from experience is that some of the best conversations go down in those street (ghetto) corners. Ever since that last November, my hair had remained uncut which had made it very hard, brown and rough. So, today I visited a salon. This was the salon I’ve been using for some years now & this barber friend of mine had never asked specifically after my mum before for once, until today. What a coincidence? That was how I felt when he popped the question. I couldn’t hide it, just had to tell him she’s now late.

Immediately, the barber recalled a particular day two yrs ago when after barbing, I had asked him where I could get a nice air-freshner for my mother’s room. In his own words, he said, “I know you must be very close to your mum as you told me that day you must get her the air-freshner she sent you before going back home.” I was really shocked to see this man recall this. Also these past few weeks, some very close friends have reminded me about a lot of experiences I had even forgotten I had with my mum. An old friend of mine called me on phone by January 2, 2016 after hearing the news and said, “boy, I’m deeply sorry. I would have called you sooner if I knew what happened, because I know you were the most closest to your mum.” Seeing & hearing all these testimonies, I had to dust up my pen and paper & get back to writing. I have a responsibility to chronicle my mother, she really deserves it and more!

***To be continued.

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