by Tochi Ozulumba
“I got reminded of another of God’s big gifts: humanity.”
It’s the morning of January the 18th, 2013, the expiration of my mandatory national assignment under the NYSC scheme approaching. As I busied myself, preparing for another day at instructing the secondary school students placed under my stewardship somewhere in Ogun State, I received a call from home. It was my younger sister and she was in tears. Fear gripped me.
“What happened, Amaka?” I asked, expecting bad news and wishing away same simultaneously.
“I should have told you yesterday but with all that happened…It’s Mummy. She had an accident.”
“What! Accident? Where?” I asked, frantic. Her voice was shaky as she narrated what had happened.
“It was in school. Tochi, she fractured her ankle. She’s bedridden, she can’t move!!”
I was blank. My joints went numb and after some minutes I sobered up, I wanted to lash out at everything and everyone. I had so many questions for our Father in heaven. “Why now, Lord? You know how hard things are already”.
Then, barely recovered from the shock, my mind began the wrenching activity of processing different emotions, then fears, then contrived imagination of scenarios – an endless litany of what ifs.
Then my worst fear: disability! This thought was so depressing that I deferred calling my mother immediately. When, eventually, I mustered the courage to call her, tears were still streaming down my cheeks. But, somewhat surprisingly, my mother, Mrs. Ozulumba was rather calm about it.
“What has your sister told you? Don’t mind her, it’s not that bad. The doctor says it’s a simple fracture and that it will heal in about two months. Biko nwa m, stop crying,” she said. She knew how extremely emotional I could be.
Our supposedly simple fracture didn’t last two months. You guessed right, it took longer than that. 3 months went by before she began walking using crutches and another 5 before she could walk unaided. Looking back, as someone who values her freedom and strongly detests restriction, I wonder if I could have managed such disability had we switched places.
Could I have borne it with the same serenity with which she endured hers? Wouldn’t I have snapped at the least provocation, yelled at everyone and hurled blames at God for standing by and letting it happen? Would I have been the loving care giver that Amaka became in my absence? We are enjoined to know ourselves and I do know me. Patience is not one of my virtues, not at times like that.
I think about the ‘traditional doctors” who helped nurse my mum’s leg back to life. With politics comes strange bedfellows, they say. Add adversity to that. These unorthodox doctors became fellow housemates during that trying period and, unconsciously, offered a firsthand practical exposition on the curative abilities of these local herbs as well as insight into a less appreciated aspect of nature’s gifts as designed by the Omniscient One.
I got reminded of another of God’s big gifts: humanity. Yes, humanity, our humaneness is a gift from God and where forces for good prevail, is emphasized in adversarial times. I reflect on ‘Family’ and how blessed it is to have people you could trust to put you first. I think of Dad who had to be really strong for her and how he resignedly embraced his lot of doing the Saturday shopping. I recall Amaka become the ‘always on call’ nurse. I think about how I had to sacrifice attending ‘Social Media Week Lagos’ in February because there was no one else to keep Mum company at home.
Can I forget Mum’s friends who covered for her at work, squeezing time out of their busy schedules to visit? Being friend or family comes with learning the language of sacrifice – you’ve got to be super-good at communicating in it. That I learnt…
Most importantly, I got reminded of the uncertainty of life, how fragile it all is, how vulnerable our bodies are. A twist of the ankle and Mum was bedridden for 3 months. We see footballers consigned to lengthy spells on the sidelines by mere tackles. This pronounces one moral lesson: No one knows what tidings the next second bringeth; We are only, to a degree, sure of the present moment. Thus, it lies on us to make good use of every moment we get to live right because everything could change with a snap.
Tochi ‘Jade’ Ozulumba is a Graduate Assistant at the University of Nigeria. She is also an On Air Personality at Lion FM, the university’s radio station; An Arsenal fan, she loves to read and whenever she manages to shake off inertia, write.
30 Days, 30 Voices series is an opportunity for young Nigerians from across the world to share their stories and experiences – creating a meeting point where our common humanity is explored.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.