A charming week to everyone and welcome to a new month. Gosh, it’s already the second half of the year and I can’t but wonder what I’ve accomplished so far. I started out the year setting up a number of resolutions and goals I hoped to attain by the year’s end. Some I have met and most I am yet to meet. Naturally this assessment brings with it the attendant feelings of depression and some sense of foreboding. A gnawing worry about what’s coming round the corner tempts me to just let life take its course until the numerous things I want to achieve compel me to run through its blind gauntlet. Sometimes I wonder whether this is all what life is about; to set goals in order to achieve them. Is it to experience the exhilaration of accomplishment or the depression of failure to spur us to strive to reach for more? I ask because even when we achieve what we want, we soon become bored and soon begin to hunger for more, much like the graveyard. What then, I ask, is real achievement or real success? For me, there’s no other person that embodies the answers to those questions than my dear friend Nse. He is the goodliest, if I may be permitted to use that word, man I have known.
Nse reminds me of Jesus because of his very simplistic nature while at the same time one of the most intelligent people I know. He is friendly to all and judges no one. He lives life by the day and concentrates on every hour each day has to offer and yet saves for the rainy day. On a typical day at work, Nse ‘terrorizes’ everyone, he’s an architect, with his camera, looking for whom to catch off guard in the most undignified positions possible. If it’s not a colleague fast asleep at his or her desk, it’s a startled picture of another one about to shovel amala with fingers dripping with gbegiri soup into the mouth only for him to dart in with another picture of the embarrassed and or enraged victim trying to ward him off with soup soiled fingers. I know because I have been his victim on many occasions and have had the indignity of having some of those pictures posted on facebook. He preys mostly on the introverts; he brings unwanted attention to them by constantly introducing them to new people, ostentatiously extolling their virtues to all within earshot but makes sure it is in familiar territory to the victim. He teases people incessantly and the most annoying thing is that he is relentless in all his mischief. The best way I would describe this wonderful pest God sent to ‘torture’ us- his enclave of friends- would be to use the igbo idiom; nwere nwere n’iru, gwompiti n’azu, which I loosely translate as, ‘serene as a lake when observed but gambols about like a colt once one’s back is turned!’. Nse would, when we his friends try to unmask him in the presence of strangers, put on a cherub like face only to make the most hideous faces at us once the unsuspecting sap turns away. And yet in all this he still remains genuinely attentive to all his friends’ needs in times of trouble.
I had gone to visit Nse some weeks ago after a very long spell. We hadn’t seen each other for quite a while and I was feeling rather guilty that I hadn’t bothered calling him to ask how he was. It was one of those times when I wasn’t particularly feeling on top of the world and wasn’t feeling very productive either. I wanted a friend I could unburden myself to – he’s one person I never have to put up a veneer of well being for. He was home, at work on a project that was due for submission the next day but he put that aside and sat down with me to some green tea and honey. We chatted for a while and of course he teased me about my ‘numerous girlfriends’ disguised as my fans, asking me when I was going to pick one and settle down for a change – pot calling the kettle black! I laughed it off and soon got down to the nitty gritty. I talked at length about some scrapes God had recently saved me from and some insecurity I was having at the time. He listened patiently and when we’d talked about mine and he’d given his advice and thoughts, proceeded to tell me his.
A friend of his had died about a fortnight ago in a hospital of malaria. The young man, whom he hardly knew at the time, had just got a job with a local airline in Lagos some months earlier and just coming from another state, needed a place to stay until he could get his feet on the ground. Nse, benevolent as ever, opened his door to him. Things went well for a while until alas the economic meltdown forced the airline to downsize its workforce. Nse’s friend lost his job. He, I’ll use the fictitious name Bora, became extremely depressed and believed nobody cared about him. He was constantly encouraged by Nse who told him his own story of how he lost his own job a year earlier and had the choice of whether to live or die when things got so bad for him; he chose life because he wanted to enjoy what life had to offer and see it through. Bora soon fell ill with malaria and one day on Nse’s return from work with a friend saw him prone on the floor talking deliriously. They rushed him to the hospital and attached him to an oxygen tank. Nse was by his side when he died that night. The one thing Nse said that struck me was that his joy was that he was able to be there for someone who needed a friend and he was glad he didn’t let fear of the unknown prevent him from carrying out God’s given duty to man. He, like I said, just lives life to the full, taking every day as it comes, travels, visits, plays, works at what he loves best – architecture( which he is very good at) and laps up any news about Donna Summer of whom he is a die hard fan and constantly tries to foist upon our very unwilling selves. Interestingly, in all this he still displays maturity and thriftiness as he makes time and effort to invest and save significantly while retaining that childlike nature that helps him not to take life too seriously.
To this day I often ponder and ask myself if I could ever, ever be as selfless as Nse or be as giving as he is. Until then I fear I must label myself a hypocrite and as selfish especially when I presume to call myself a Christian who is supposed to be his brother’s keeper. I know I probably sound like a schoolboy who has been asked to write an essay about his best friend and the writing looks a bit disjointed but it is as a result of trying to cram so much information on this wonderful friend of mine into such little space. Fact of the matter is, Nse is one of my best friends, he my hero and his lifestyle plays a major part in my evaluation on my progress so far and what I hope to achieve in this second half of this year. He is an embodiment of most of what is important in life. Have a great week everyone.