Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Loving Without Giving: Possible?

    While Bola was in college, his brother at home sent him a letter with the words: Bro, am dying. Things are changing. I think I will commit suicide. Come home.

    Immediately Bola got the letter, he rushed down to his school’s Head teacher and collected an Exeat. He left for Ibadan that evening and he got home at night.
    On getting home, he found his brother lying on the floor. Various types of drugs, and a bottle of water were on the stool beside him. Bola looked around and saw that there was no one at home. Where was dad? Mum? He knew something was wrong. He did not know which to do first; look around for his parents or get help.
    As he paced up and down, dreading the fact that each second he spent thinking, his brother’s life was sipping away, he saw his brother’s phone on the floor. He picked it up quickly trying hard to calm himself down so as not to make any stupid decision.
    He called his mother but her phone was switched off. He called his father, he didn’t pick.
    Then he sent a message:
    ‘What’s the problem, son? Am going for a meeting now. If you need more money check my study. Don’t touch the foreign currencies.’
    Bola read the message again and cursed. Was it all about money? He dialed their family doctor’s number. He picked immediately.
    ‘Yes, Kunle, how’re you?’
    ‘Doctor, it’s me – Bola. Kunle is – is unconscious! He’s lying on the floor.’
    ‘Unconscious? Am coming.’
    Five minutes after, after shaking and pouring water on Kunle times without number, the doctor arrived. On seeing the drugs on the stool, he knew this was no joke.
    ‘He’s going to be fine, right?’ Bola asked fearfully. His eyes were on the doctor’s face. The man shook his head.
    ‘I pray so,’ he said. Quickly, they both carried Kunle into the doctor’s car and drove off to the hospital.
    Bola did not sleep that night. He was pacing up and down the waiting room, praying that Bola will be fine. He did not want to think of what might happen if his brother should die. No, no, no; he said shaking his head and praying. Nobody was at home when it happened. Neither of his parents knew where he was now. What was going on? He knew his mother had gone to see her boss as was her usual practice whenever their father travelled to Lagos for an official assignment. But why did she have to leave Kunle alone? All alone?
    The doctor came out around 1:00 AM. Bola rushed to meet him.
    ‘Please doctor.’
    ‘He’s fine. He’s okay. He wants to see you,’ the doctor said, a reassuring smile spread on his face.   Bola sighed. He fell on his knees and gave thanks and then went into the room to see his brother.
    ‘Ha, Kunle!’ he almost screamed when he entered. His brother was lying on the hospital bed, looking thin. He had lost weight again. Bola could see a reflection of depression in his eyes. He looked sad, tired, as though some unseen dementors had sucked away all the happiness in him.
    ‘Am sorry, Bola,’ he said. ‘I was alone."
    Hmm…I was alone.
    Let's take a good look at our topic again. Loving without giving, possible? No, that’s the simple answer. But I want to draw your attention to something else. Giving is not all about money. Please note that. When we talk about giving as a sign of love, some people start to justify themselves saying: ‘I gave him a hundred thousand naira last week.’ Or, ‘I don’t have much.’
    Why must our minds go to money whenever we talk about giving? It’s sad. As a result of this shallow mentality, many relationships have been broken, many loved ones lost, many families shattered. You can imagine what the boy in our story was passing through to have sent such an alarming message to his brother and to have thought the solution to his life problems was to commit suicide. He had money. His father left enough. He needed more than money. He needed love – real love which does not reside in money. You can’t love without giving, but you can love without giving money. Money is only one of the numerous things we can give to show love. People need our time, our attention, our presence. Our loved ones want to see us, to talk to us, to laugh with us, to cry with us, rejoice with us, and lament with us. It’s not all about money; correct that, please.
    It’s pathetic that this is more or less a normal thing in Africa. A man leaves a big wad of notes on the centre table and leaves the house until midnight. And when the wife complains, you hear people say things like: ‘Hope he is still giving you money? If he is, then you still have him.’
    No, that’s not it. If all you are giving his money, and you think you are loving or generous or something, I’m glad to announce to you that you are not. Give your time. Spend time with people. Hear their worries, their joys, their fears. Comfort them. Give your attention, your presence. Let them know you are there for them no matter what happens. Money can’t solve all these.
    The only person Kunle could call was his brother. He knew his brother would be the only one who would attend to him the way he wanted. He knew his brother would read his letter with concern and so he called him.
    Can your friends call you when they are desperately in need of attention, time, presence, comfort? Can they call when it’s not money issue? If everything you are giving your lover, spouse, friend or relative or everything you are receiving is money, then you should check, something is definitely wrong somewhere.
    You can’t love without giving. But you can love without giving money.

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Friday, 5 February 2016

A Quick Note On Impact.

"What's the essence of this world?"
"Why will I just get rich just to leave everything behind?"
              "Gosh! This life is just rubbish, we will just waste time and just die"

      All these and others are what you hear people say. I want to tell you that all these are utterances of a shallow mind.
    Like I read in a book "this life is a preparation for the next".
    Yes we die and leave all the wealth and other treasures we've accumulated. Yes we will take nothing when we die, but people who think that they will die and leave everything behind, and tag this world meaningless are being selfish.
    Why do you think some people have died and are not remembered and others are remembered? What you need to know is that to make this life meaningful, make it better for this generation and hundreds of generations to come. When you think about making an impact, you don't see this life as meaningless.
When you accumulate wealth, do so to impact lives not just to live robustly and die.
Live to be remembered.

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”
― Jackie Robinson
“With my career I want to either make something or make an impact. Writers both. make something, and make an impact.”
― Jarod Kintz, This Book Has No Title.
“You are here to make a difference, to either improve the world or worsen it. And whether or not you consciously choose to, you will accomplish one or the other.”
― Richelle E. Goodrich.
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Life is too short to stay idle, friend, do something. You should also check this out. You'll love it!

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Letter To An Old School Friend: Zuriel is fourteen, Maya is fifteen; You are twenty.

     And so I met one of my old school friends last week when I travelled to Ibadan, and I asked him, ‘So what’s up, now?’ He looked at him and laughed.
     Now, I knew this guy to be a very ambitious guy (well, that was what I thought he was.) While we were in school, whenever I talked about writing, he would start talking about many other things that he too was involved in. There was a time he asked me why I write, and so I laughed and told him I write for so many reasons but most importantly to say what has been left unsaid, or said wrongly. Whenever I said this, this friend of mine would nod vigorously the way doctors nod during a seminar, or deacons while the pastor is preaching. 
     The guy would tell me he has plans. ‘I want to change things, Pal,’ he would say. ‘I want to make a difference. I have plans ooo…many plans,’ my dear friend would say. If you asked, what plans; he wouldn’t tell you anything specific. All that while we were in school.
     And so I met this same fellow in Ibadan last week. And we talked and talked and talked. He said he used to read my stories and articled on my blog and that he too would start writing and that I should write a novel…blah…blah…blah. When I finally got the chance to talk, I asked, ‘How far? What’s up?’ 
He knew what I meant and so he said, ‘Ah, don’t worry, Pal. Am taking things slowly….slooooowly. By the time am thirty, my name will be in the papers.’
     I did not get the chance to talk to the guy as I was in a hurry to get back to my town. And so I sent him a message and sent him the pictures of three young girls who were changing things and who were not yet thirty. And I wrote,

     ‘Look, guy, you are old enough. I think it’s high time you sat down and thought. This one that whenever we talk, you will be talking about invisible plans that we both know you don’t have. Sit down, think and act. If you really have a plan, and you really want to make an impact; then you can’t afford to wait till you are thirty. The other time we chatted on Facebook, you talked about Nigerian barriers. Buddy, there are no barriers except the ones you create yourself. There are people making impacts, influencing lives and doing something right where they are.
    Enough of excuses. The other time I sent some books on Computer Programming ('cause I know you're interested in that) to your mail. You haven't even replied my mail. I hope you won't be telling me that you forgot your password again. You don't forget your 2go password but you forget your Gmail password... I wonder ooo!
If you are still thinking that you are small or young or anything, I will prove you wrong. At the end of this message, you will see some photos. Those are photos of people that are already pursuing their goals and making impacts at a tender age.
    The first one is Zuriel Oduwole. (She even has the same surname with you...Lol). That girl is fourteen years old now. You see that? 14. That's your youngest brother's age. And she is making an impact. I spent a good number of hours watching her videos and interviews with some African presidents last week. (That's what you should be watching buddy, not some stupid 'How to make a girl like you' videos).      The girl is an Education Advocate, a writer and a filmmaker. The last time I checked, she is the youngest person ever to be profiled by Forbes. She is just fourteen and you are already growing beards and you are telling me that you are waiting till 2050 before you make the papers??? Think pal.
     You see that second girl? That's Maya Penn. She is fifteen. Is that not the age of that girl you said you were dating some two months ago? She started her own company at the age of eight. You see what am talking about that age is not an excuse? She is a philanthropist,an artist and a tech geek (just like you claim to be.) She had done two TEDtalks. (Of course you know TEDtalk. Unless you are trying to tell me that you have forgotten Chimamanda Adichie's We All Should Be Feminists that we both watch together).
     Am sure you know that third girl. That's Malala. There is no need for me to write a story about her before you know who she is and what she is doing.
     These girls didn't start yesterday or today. They have been working on their visions since they had it. It is just now that we are seeing the results of their hard work; now that their names are on Wikipedia and everywhere.
     And the fascinating thing about these girls is not that they are rich, or that they are making 'cool cash', or that they are travelling from Moscow to Malaysia; but that they are making an impact. They are living their dreams. Oduwole is an advocate for Education. Malala is an...well you know what Malala is, and Maya is a philanthropist.They making an impact. They are changing things. They are changing the way the world views females. Girls like Zuriel are changing the way the world views African...Nigerians. They are changing the way the world views Non-Europeans, and blacks especially.
     The last time we talked about Adichie, you were saying she is thiry-eight years old. Here are three people, one bearing the same surname as you do, that are not yet twenty ooo. Friend, the next time I 'stumble upon' you whether in Ibadan, (Don't worry am coming there next month) or anywhere, I don't want to hear stories. I want to hear what you're doing to really make the change we all used to talk about while in school. Start doing something buddy. Time waits for nobody. If you think you are not old enough, then am telling you that you are too old! Start living your dreams. Enough of dreaming and snoring 'falalaing' on the bed; start acting.
     My point is straight my friend. Do not see this as a criticism but as a challenge. You too start taking little little steps towards the achievement of your goals. I'm not saying I want to see your name in the papers tomorrow or next year. But you shouldn't be idle, pal. If you're really interested in the programming stuff we discussed and you want to make an impact through that, then start learning it. Familiarize yourself with the concepts of programming. Read about famous programmers. Start an online course or something. Make sure you are doing something that is taking you everyday a step closer to your dream. If you are reading just a single page from a programming book each day, then by the end of this year, you would have read over three hundred pages on programming. Isn't that cool? That way, you are doing something. You are impacting your generation already.

     Maya is fifteen. Zuriel is fourteen. My good friend you are twenty. Age is not an excuse. My regards to mum and your fifteen year old girlfriend (abi you don break up? God have mercy.) I pray you see this very soon, and give me a reply. 
     Hope to hear from you soon, Ben.