And now, my life is a manifestation of emptiness, a daily experiment of one subdued in regrets and agonies. My life is now a daily harvest of pains and afflictions of the mind.
These afflictions sometimes make me contemplate the unthinkable.
I wake up every morning, terribly vexed that my mortal body has again defied the eternal benevolence of death. As I clinch on to the last straw of life, all I now pray and hope for is an opportunity to reverse the hands of time to that turning point of a day and undo once and for all, that singular act of anger-instigated folly that has kept me in pepetual regrets in the last three years.
I elect on this start of the new month of July, 2021, to share my story, in the hope that somebody learns from my slip and avoid my fall, as we begin together at this beginning of the second half of 2021.
Four year ago, everything was working just fine for me. I had a beautiful life, a lovely wife and our twin boys, Paul and Silas. When Paul and Silas became one year old, the home was even merrier. Each evening upon return from Vintage University, Obubra, where I was serving as a graduate lecturer in the department of Communication Arts, I would freshen up and settle for a session of sumptuous dinner served by my wife, Benita – Beny, for short.
Beny, Paul and Silas and myself would then relocate to the balcony, where we usually gathered to spend the evening, in the caressing embrace of the hilly breeze of Obubra. Like the LG brand would say, life’s good. And like MTN would add, it was the kind of goodness that would follow your everywhere you go. In 7Up’s diction, the difference was clear between then and now.
I enjoyed joy in the office and always returned to embrace some more at home. My wife was happy with her job as a secondary school teacher at Obubra Community Technical College. For everyone in four separate flats in our compound, our home was every couple’s delight. The joy permeated our home until that fateful day when things began to fall apart and the centre no longer could hold.
It was the first day of the seventh month in 2017. After a tiring day at the office, I had managed to drive myself home. As I approached the gate, I noticed something bizarre. The gate of the compound was opened ajar and the guard was not sighted at his duty post.
Not knowing exactly what to make of the weirdness, I speedily drove in and parked my coffee brown Mercedes Benz E-Class vehicle. There was just no one in sight. With inexplicable rapidity, I hopped out of the car and began to scream, “Beny! Beny, where are you and where are Paul and Silas?”
There was no response from anywhere. Our compound, which every evening played host to a beehive of activities especially by the children from the four flats, was now as quiet as a graveyard.
“Where is my wife? Where are my boys?” I scream atop my voice. Yet, the silence was palpably loud and deafening. I became discombobulated, not knowing where to start from.
As I made haste to the entrance of our flat, I saw our dog squatting at the entrance. The dog had stains of blood all over it. It was chewing what appeared like the last chunk of a very huge meat. Its belly was ballooned like never before, with droplets of tears on its physiognomy. My confusion morphed into an amalgam of fear and anger.
“Where are my babies?” I queried the dog. “Alex, where are my babies?” I barked at the dog, this time with aggravated anger.
My suspicion was confirmed when I saw Alex motioned leftwards and realized on the floor, a torn shirt belonging to Paul. The very one he was dressed in as I left the house that morning for work. My mind went on overdrive! My adrenaline charge peaked. I became irredeemably angry that Alex had done the abominable – had eaten up our one-year-old baby.
In my rage, I immediately grabbed a big piece of metal rod by the door and threw it at the dog. The rod hit Alex so badly that it could neither bark loud nor run far. Its head jerked for a couple of times and the dog fell flat.
I needed to be sure the dog was thoroughly dead, so I picked up another rod, a bigger one, and hurled in the same direction. Then a bigger disaster ensued! The second weapon tossed pass the curtain and pierced right into the belly of baby Paul, who was sitting just behind the curtain.
“What have I done?” I exclaimed, even as I glided to pick up the baby and screamed for help.
It was only then that Benita who must have been deeply buried in sleep, dashed to the fore, with Silas in her alms.“No! Ekwere, what did you just do?” My wife exclaimed with a deluge of emotions.
“Please Honey, I am sorry. I don’t know what to say. I don’t … Let’s rush Paul to the hospital. His condition seems critical.”
The one-year-old was badly injured with blood and water gushing out of his belly. We all jumped into the car and sped off straight to the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital.
Unfortunately, upon getting to the Accident and Emergency Unit at the hospital, Dr. James Efefiong confirmed our baby boy clinically dead!
We wept so much that if tears were a healing balm, our little Paul would have been healed of death. In tears, we returned home. It was on our way back that my wife, Benita, told me that, contrary to my initial assumption, it was our dog, Alex, that had saved Paul who was about to be attacked by a mighty snake. It was Alex that had fought hard with the snake, sustained bruises and bites all over its body, until it was able to overpower and killed the snake wrapped around it’s body mass. It was then that neighbours helped to unwrap the carcass of the snake off Alex for burial outside the gate.
Beny also told me that Alex had elected to remain at the door post, perhaps to contend a possible repeated visit of another snake or to show me its massive exploit upon my return.
It was only then that I realized that what I saw the dog eating were remains of the dangerous snake it killed and the blood stains on the dog were either from injuries sustained by the dog or from the snake itself. I felt miserably sad for Alex and even much more for Paul.
As soon as we got home, Benita parked her belonging and those of the babies and left with Silas. All my pleas fell on deaf ears. She insisted that my unbridled anger since childhood rendered me a dangerous specie to build her future with.
I saw with my own eyes my life shredded to nothingness, by my own hands. In two days, I lost everything I ever had. Alex was dead. Paul was dead. Beny and Silas were gone. For four days, I locked myself indoors and by the time I returned to the private university where I worked, my job was gone. The university management never even attempted to summon me. The university management had hastily issued a public statement which I then realized had been flying everywhere on social media in the last three days, announcing my disengagement, perhaps to escape the indignity which the trending story was already attracting to the institution.
- Assumption is the lowest level of knowledge. Never risk an action on the platter of assumption.
- Patience is a virtue, hastiness a vice.
- Anger lies in the bosom of a fool.
- It is safe not to take a critical action on the impulse of anger.
- Thinking should always precede acting; where there is a reversal, regret is inevitable.
POSTSCRIPT: Above is a fictional story, scripted to drive home the above five moral lessons as my message for the new month. As you step into the second half of 2021, guard your heart with all deligence, for out of it comes the issues of life. Stay above the folly of anger.
By Umoh Joshua
Photo Credit: Getty Images
HAPPY NEW MONTH WISHES TO YOU AND YOURS!