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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