FEATURE ARTICLE

Fr Pat Amobi ChukwumaMonday, February 13, 2017
amobipchuks@yahoo.com


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THE VICISSITUDES OF HUMAN LIFE

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ur country Nigeria is in serious economic mess. We were promised change but we are encountering chain. Hence many Nigerians are hungry and angry. Millions of people are jobless. In many states, civil servants are owed arrears of salary. Some state governors can no longer pay their workers. A certain governor ordered the civil servants in his state to come for work for only three days in the week and to use the three other working days to go to farm in order to complement their monthly salary, which has been slashed into half without the consent of the workers. Even the half salary is not paid. Consequently, the civil servants in that state are already in hell on earth. The retirees there are already booked in the mortuary. The hardship in the country is becoming unbearable. No wonder mass protest against the economic hardship by groups of Nigerians took place in Lagos, Abuja, Benin and other places last week. A hungry man is indeed an angry man. There is serious anger in the land. The country is very sick and the president is also very sick. We wish our country and our president quick recovery.

The present Federal Government of APC urged Nigerians to be patient with her. Indeed the patience has turned hungry and jobless Nigerians into patients in different hospitals. Many Nigerians are suffering from the cancer of confusion. It happened that a married civil servant with seven children drove to church on a certain Sunday. He packed his car at the usual place and entered the church for service. During the church service, he was absent minded due to myriads of problems shattering his brain. His wife was terminally sick. Five of his children in higher institution were yet to pay their school fees. Also there was no food in the house. The worst was that there was no money at all to solve those financial problems. In fact the man was contemplating committing suicide but his conscience weighed him down. What he did was to postpone the suicide option. During the church service he was daydreaming. When the pastor asked everyone to stand up for prayers, the troubled man woke up and shouted, "Where am I?"

After the church service the disturbed man forgot that he came to church on a car. He went home on foot. Entering his compound, he discovered that his garage was empty. He raised an alarm that his car has been stolen. One of his hungry children reminded him that he drove to the church on his car. But he couldn't recollect. Instead of going to the church premises to look for the car, he went straight to the Police Station to report about the "stolen" car. The police swung on duty. At last the police team found the assumed missing car in the church premises where the disturbed man worshipped earlier that Sunday. When the police confronted the man on why he did not remember that he drove to church on car, he confessed that he was mentally out of this world due to the economic hardship in the country. Do we blame the man? Life is full of vicissitudes. Look at a well to do man before, now as poor as church rat. The crayfish has bended as a result of bad weather.

Some time ago, I was behind the wheels rushing for an urgent errand in a certain town in Delta State. As I drove along, I came to a T-junction. I stopped at the junction to look left and right before negotiating. Unfortunately I forgot my destination and the direction to take. Many worries were ramming inside my brain that day. What did I do? I packed quietly at the edge of the road. I started contemplating where I was going and which direction to take. After taking a bottle of mild cold water, my senses came back. I laughed at myself and continued my journey. That was one of the vicissitudes of human life. You have your own story to tell or haven't you?

Most often, when we are asked, "How are you?" our reply is always "Fine." I rarely get the reply "Bad." Personally when such question is posed before me, my answer is normally "I am managing life." Yes, most of us are just managing. Condition has forced us to be automatic managers here and there. If you do not manage life, your blood pressure will rise to a point of no return. Some of us even die in silence. This reminds me of a traditional doctor whose motto is: "Why die in silence?" As I traveled last week from Enugu to Owerri, I met so many mad men and mad women along my axis. I asked myself, "What is really happening? Are all these madness natural or man-made?" After a little cogitation I came to the conclusion that many of those men and women ran mad due to economic hardship and frustration. I courageously approached one of the mad men to pray over him. As I was sprinkling him with Holy Water, he was touching his stomach and torn pocket. I needed no other prophet to tell me that he ran mad out of hunger and poverty. I bought him two plates of take-away food and gave him five thousand naira cash. Do you know what? He jumped up dancing for joy. He joyfully shouted, "Reverend Father, I am well again. My madness has disappeared. Praise the Lord!" I shouted in return, "Alleluia!" He told me that he would like to become a priest like me. He wanted to follow me. But I told him to go back to his family first. That previously mad man is now a commercial motorcyclist.

Human life is full of uncertainties. That is why it is said that no condition is permanent. A tenant can become a landlord tomorrow; and vice versa. A car owner today can go on foot the next day due to unforeseen problems. Some time ago, I saw an elderly man driving a private luxurious car with his wife and children inside. At the sides of the car, he wrote boldly on gummed paper, "For Sale." I stopped him and asked him, which is for sale, the car or the occupants? He looked at me pitifully and replied, "All of them." The wife slapped him and shouted, "Who is for sale?" I saw despair in the man's face. He ignored the wife's hot slap and retorted, "I have decided to sell the car, my wife and children to solve my financial downfall." My presence saved the situation as the wife brought out her children from the car and was about to light a match to set the car and her husband on fire. I stopped her while shouting, "The devil is a liar!"

Just last week I went to Ariaria market in Aba to purchase a clothing material. I couldn't believe what my eyes saw. I thought that it was in a dream. But after washing my face with a sachet of pure water, I saw clearer. I saw a wealthy man I knew before at Enugu some years ago, where he was an executive managing director. What is he doing now in Aba? He is now a wheel barrow pusher. He carries goods for marketers to make ends meet. I tapped on his shoulders and asked, "Chief, what is happening?" He replied, "Father, you cannot understand. I was duped at Enugu, such that I could no more pay my house rent and feed my family. Since my condition changed for worse, I then decided to change position in order to struggle to survive. I was ashamed to do this wheel barrow business at Enugu where I was eating with gold plates. That was what brought me to Aba. My wife and children are now in the village. I take the little I get from this hard job to look after myself and them. We now live from hand to mouth. What can man do? Should I kill myself? If God helps me, one day the dead bones will rise again." He started sobbing like a hungry baby. I consoled him to take it easy because human life is full of vicissitudes. Before I left, I said the prayer of hope over him. After the prayer, he was still chorusing "Amen! Amen!! Amen!!" as I drove away. Two days ago, that man called me on phone to intimate me that he has secured a lucrative job in Oil Company in Port Harcourt. Praise the Lord! Indeed, the downfall of a man or a woman is not the end of his or her life. If you believe this say a bigger "Amen!!!"

Few days ago, I visited a bedridden man on his sick-bed. He was struck down by acute stroke since five years ago. He can neither sit down nor stand. He is fed like a baby by his wife and children. Luckily he can still reason and talk. He told me that he is tired with life. He wants to die but death refuses to come. He asked me to pray for him to die. I assured him that life and death are in God's hand. He was a robust man before sickness pulled him down. After his retirement as a civil servant, having attained the compulsory age, he applied for a job in a private factory. In his application letter, he underlined the fact that he was retired but not tired. Now that he is seriously bedridden, I sarcastically asked him, "Are you now retired and tired?" He did not allow me to finish before answering, "Yes, I am retired and tired. I want to die because my life is now useless." He started to cry. All my efforts to console him proved abortive. Oh, what a vicissitude of human life! God have mercy.

A stone throw from there, I went to visit a middle aged blind woman. She became accidently blind after a chronic illness. Fortunately, she recovered but her eyes have closed for ever. She was taken to high eye clinics all over the country and outside the country because two of her sons are financially well to do. The ophthalmologists have confirmed that her blindness is incurable. The woman was highly placed in the society before. She was once a Commissioner of Women Affairs in her state before she became ill. Her problem now is not only blindness, but despair. She sighs from morning to night, wailing over her unfortunate blindness. When I came in, she was told that a priest came to visit her. She sighed and shouted, "Father, ask God what evil I did that he allowed a famous woman like me to go blind." She did not allow me to pray for her. She was repeatedly saying, "God is wicked." My dear reader, is God wicked to you? If yes, come and let us discuss.

The vicissitudes of human life begins at the birth stool. When a child is born, it cries over the problems it would encounter in the course of life. If a newly born baby fails to cry, the nurse beats it casually to compel it to cry, because this world it has just entered is not a bed of roses. Imagine how a baby who was happy in the womb is now to face the harsh atmosphere of this physical world.

While some persons are praying to die, some others are praying to live. Death does not come so easy for those praying to die, unless they decide to commit suicide. I have encountered a young man who did all he could to kill himself because of many problems starring him at the face. Even he drank a dangerous poison and became healthier. He hung himself on a rope in the forest and stood there for three days but did not die. He removed the rope and sought for a quicker means of death. He jumped unto a speedy car but the driver was careful and avoided running over him. He went on a hunger strike but to no avail. At last he came to his senses and decided to live and face the challenges of life like a courageous man. Today that man is a Senator representing his senatorial zone successfully. He has sponsored a Bill against Suicide which the President has signed into Law.

My fellow Nigerians, we should take life as we see it. Suffering is part and parcel of humanity since the unfortunate Fall of man after creation. We should always see hope in hopeless situations. Suicide is not the best option. If you kill yourself because of the vicissitudes of human life, then you face a greater consequence in hell fire. We must have in mind that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Since a black hen can lay white eggs, we must always look for a brighter future. Indeed some people were born with golden spoons hung on their necks while some were born with crosses hung on their necks. No matter what happens in our lives, let us not despair. Personally I have seen hell in my life but my trust is in God. God is never asleep. A patient dog eats a fleshy bone. Prayer, struggle and patience are the key words to face the vicissitudes of human life. By the grace of God, the present economic hardship, the acute hunger and anger in the country, the menace of the Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram terrorists will be put under control when the Messiah comes.

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