How comforting were animals!
They were never evil.
They live without hypocrisy according to their natures.
They hunted, not for sport, but for food.
They had wild innocence, and a lovely playfulness, and their loyalties were sure and without malice.
They had souls of infants, simple and artless. Even their passions were infantile, and not corrupt, as were the passion of men.
Did they know God? Who could answer that with surety?
I remember our childhood dogs, Ojodu we call them, because they were very black with a snow-white tufts of hair on their tails. The elder (mother) belonged to our grandpa. She gave birth to five cubs, but only the young Ojodu looked exactly like the mama, incidentally also happened to be a male. Grandpa sold and gave out the other puppies, but left only the young Ojudu. My elder Brother and I were angry, felt why not a female puppy that would be able to give birth to more cubs. Little did we know that grandpa had his own agenda.
We came to accept the dog & got along very well. We tried to christen him all sorts of names, Jack, Bingo, Riro . . . but none sticked besides Ò J Ò D Ú (BLACK), bcos that is what he grew up hearing us called the mama.
The truth, however, though the dog was black, the character, attitude and loyalty, were crystal white!
Those days when I’d to go to the farm alone to meet Mom or Dad, Ojodu was a perpetual companion. Never tiring, never complaining, always there by my side. Even in the dark thick forest, Ojodu would run ahead of me, distilling every ghostly fear. When a bush rustle & I feel jolted, the dog would raise his ears as if trying to pick a note, and then dash forward in the direction of the ghost. Then I’d relaxed, knowing that Ojodu would take care of my fear.
When you are most dejected and perhaps seeing nothing worthwhile about living, Ojodu would gallop towards you, ears lifted, mouth opened, showing the teeth in an almost human smile of joy and affection. The sharp paws on my shoulders, sniffing, first my neck and then plaster of kisses all over my face, tail wagging and body wriggling, whispering but with familial moan, Ojodu would invite you for a play. With his irresistible freedom and unfeign liberty, clearly being demonstrated, you find yourself dancing to his tone.
Ojodu loves without reservation.
Ojodu cares without malice.
Ojodu was loyal until very moment of death.
Grandpa agenda had always been to sacrifice the young Ojodu to the god of iron (ògún). When the time came, seeing how attached brother & myself were to the dog, he offered to get us some gifts and then told us what must become of our friend. He expressed that he would have loved to buy another dog for his ritual, but he’d promised ògún this very dog.
We’re brokened, betrayed & disappointed in the real sense of the words.
“Ojodu is our friend, our dog. We cater for him from a day old till now. You can’t do this to us, no not to Ojodu, grandpa.” We protested.
In a very calm, shaky and tear-filled tone, he pleaded and made a promise to us that instead of having Ojodu tied down in chain till day of the sacrifice, that he’d allow our friend to walk about freely until the morning of his death.
Reluctantly, or ultimately, we agreed to let go of a friend that if put in our place would never let go of us.
On the morning of the sacrifice, we took Ojodu to the stream, bath and dried him up. All through the dog was everly itself.
Finally, the time arrived for the chain to be put around his neck and we declined. Instead, we offer to walk him, as a free friend & worthy companion, on its four legs to the shrine.
Ojodu seemed to have noticed our recent bouts of depression and occasional withdrawal, tried all the more to be a better ally to us.
At the shrine of ògún, other rituals done, and time for the blood to be shed . . . Ojodu, a dog, a loyal friend, was led to the priest; in a split of seconds, our friend was pegged down, chained and stretched out on all-four!
Ojodu was not given a chance to utter a cry albeit the last.
But in his eyes I could see the pain, the confusion, the plea . . . the expectation, that Lola (me) and (not or) Segun (my brother) would rescue him.
No, we never did, we could not have, because we’re not like him, the loyal one till death. We are men, human and self-preferring, Id (ego) centered.
My childhood dog, incapable of virtue, was without true guilt. Even the audacious tiger, the terrible lion, the trumpeting elephant, the vari-coloured serpents were incapable of real wickedness, as MAN was capable.
Therefore must God not love them?
If Ojodu is still alive, he’d be about twenty years old.
Through his short-lived life, the dog taught me what true companionship & loyalty are . . .
And now I’m still searching (though I’ve found very few) for men of true heart of friendship.
Not minding you’re offered to a god, if truly there is a heaven for the thought-soulless animals, then rest in perfect peace, my good friend, Ò J Ò D Ú.