A story of a woman who never had any cause to smile in life but yet, never despaired
I have always believed an arcane machination to disrupt the delicate balance of life, by influences beyond my comprehension existed. I have also, unequivocally acknowledged that we are not alone, and that our actions were being scrutinized and recorded by a higher power for future retrospection. Even though I sometimes wished my beliefs were wrong so that I could somehow justify my iniquitous existence, I still believed. When I was much younger and blinded to the deeper imports of our existence, I had believed we just simply existed out of a whiff. I mean literally existed without the craftsmanship of something greater. But who could blame me, after all I was just three years of age when I had reached that naive conclusion.
Forty three years after those naive thoughts, my perception has changed tremendously. My experiences in life has made an unflinching believer off me because my life in a nutshell has been by a far stretch, a very tumultuous one. Despite the fact that my life had been filled with one too many disappointments and personal tragedies, I still held on. I held on because I learnt that without faith, it is impossible to please the maker. Try as hard as you wish, work as hard as you will, it will be for nought, because you cannot just please him without it.
My earliest memory of the bitter taste of disappointments and personal tragedies was at the tender age of five. I had woken up that Saturday morning overly excited because it was my birthday. My father had promised to travel back home to celebrate with me, but sadly, he never did. The fact that he never did wasn’t as a result of negligence or an error of forgetfulness or lack of concern, but as a result of the most infelicitous of circumstances. My father had died in an auto crash accident on his way to Ibadan, where we resided and the sinister part was that the fifteen other passengers in the same crash all survived unscathed. I and my brother were too young to understand the magnitude of the situation but my mother on the other hand, took it hard. She wept her soul out, tore off her hair, starved herself, blamed the cruel world and questioned her maker relentlessly.
She was heartbroken, a woman completely torn by a despair she never recovered from. She denounced her religious beliefs, neglected I and my little brother and withdrew from the world as she saw it. She escaped into a place within her, where I presume and hope she found solace. Months later, she selfishly followed suit in our father’s unfortunate path and thus left us alone in this cruel world. For a time, I couldn’t bring myself to yield through the path of forgiveness until I came upon this piece of quote from a poem by Alexander pope, “To err is human; to forgive, divine”. The message was so abstruse in its simplicity that I came to these stark realizations; with forgiveness follows inner peace and tranquility. Also, if the maker could forgive my trespasses, who was I not to forgive my mother’s weakness and desertion?
With our parents gone, we were obliged to live with our uncle Jide who had no kids of his own. In his house, we lived in subjugation because uncle Jide’s wife made us pay for her incapability to bear the fruit of the womb. Uncle Jide also meted out his own form of horror by sometimes creeping into my room late at night to perform sacrilegious acts on my person. On nights like that, I’d weep bitterly, lash out at the maker and question his motives for allowing this befall us righteous children. But in the end I prevailed and still believed. I still believed even after Yemi my brother, a haunted and lost soul who had been tortured by the inequities of life, took to the streets and began to commit all sorts of atrocities. I haven’t set eyes on him till this day and I know not if he still breathes.
I struggled with physical, mental and psychological abuses while undergoing my secondary school education and finally, battled my way into the University of Ibadan for my tertiary education. In my third year, my English Professor, Prof Adekunle, left me with a hard choice; his bed or my guaranteed failure in his course. What he offered went against all my morals, so I adamantly refused and reaped the heavy dividends. I repeatedly took the course, failed and spent two extra years in school, yet I prevailed.
When Aminat Musa, a close friend of mine questioned the direction of my faith and wondered if they weren’t misplaced. I remained firm and reminded her that by faith, Noah prepared an ark and believed it will not be crushed. By faith, Abraham traveled, looking for the Promised Land. By faith, Sarah was able to give birth to a child when she was past the age of child bearing. By faith Moses’ parents weren’t afraid of the king’s command and hid him for three months. By faith, the same Moses chose to associate himself with the children of God rather than immerse himself in the riches he was entitled to as the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter. By faith, Moses left Egypt not fearing the wrath of the king. By faith also, the Israelites passed through the Red Sea and the walls of Jericho crumbled.
These were all different people in different times with more hardship and lesser opportunities, but they all had one thing in common, hope. And they all died for it without having received the promises, but rather, having perceived it. What was perceived convinced them to embrace and confess that they were but mere strangers and sojourners in this bitter cold world. They all strongly believed in what they did not yet possess and died without receiving it, so who was I to act otherwise?
By then, I had already come to understand that our world was framed by the sacred words of the maker, such that things which can be seen are not made of things which do seem to appear. Simply put, we should go in accordance with the biblical account of our creation, rather than any other opposing theories. Few have agreed with this line of thought and more have labeled it blind faith and therefore pointless. But I ask them these;
Does blind faith exist? Is it a valid phrase in the actual sense of its supposed significance? Aren’t we making a common grammatical blunder by placing blind before faith and thus making the phrase an almost useless repetition?
I ask all these because faith is said to be an assurance of things hoped for and the evidence or proof of things not seen. Faith is blind and I am not expected to see what I believe, I just believe because I know there is a higher being and he resides in my heart. So I proposed another line of inquiry;
Are we being blinded by our faith or lack thereof? Or were we born blind to the stark spirituality of this world, and thus left with no other choice than to believe in what cannot be perceived?
I have held on to my beliefs because I made myself left with just that choice. And it had filled me with great joy that because I had held on, I had finally found happiness when I got married to Tunde, the man I loved. I still believed even when we searched for the fruit of the womb for seven years to no avail. I still believed even after the pressure from his family had forced him to take another woman for his wife. I felt so much hurt but still believed when I witnessed the birth of their three beautiful children, children that could have been I and Tunde’s. And I still believed even after I was eventually diagnosed of having terminal cervical cancer.
Even on my death bed, I believe more than ever because I can now feel him within me, for he hasn’t deserted me. I have no one here to comfort me physically but the spiritual comfort showered upon me can never be replaced by all the physical comfort in the world. My time is near and my energy slowly dwindles to a trickle. I feel the cancer cells voraciously devouring my inside, but I also feel his comforting presence the strongest. It is like the warm soothing feel of the early morning sunlight on one’s face after a refreshing night rest. The feeling holds my pain captive and plasters a smile on my face because I know that even though I have lived a tragic life, I will die filled with mirth. For the first time in my life, I am at peace with myself and I will die smiling because I can now feel some of the things Abraham, Joseph, Noah and the others perceived but never received, and it is only because I believed.
These are my last words, this is my testament. This is the legacy I leave behind for others like me, who have been treated unfairly by their lot in life. All these I have written as a symbol of hope for them because a human devoid of hope, is in a perpetual state of self inflicted sorrow. So hold my words dearly and celebrate my life for its all I ask. Remember my name for I have no one on earth to accord me such honors. Remember the name, Adeola Folorunsho for this is my testament of hope.