Wednesday, January 31, 2024
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ome of my admirers might have been cogitating why my write-ups disappeared from the radar of the Internet for some weeks now. Some may be thinking that I did not cross over to the New Year 2024. Indeed if a sacrifice is being performed in the spiritual world and the vulture is not present, then something ominous happened in the underworld. I just want to clear the doubts in many minds. Please thank God with me that I made it into 2024. I hereby answer present. A bottle of cold beer awaits you, if you can afford five thousand naira transport to and fro my place of pastoral assignment. The sudden removal of fuel subsidy has caused economic havoc in our country today.

There is no smoke without fire, except in the biblical bush burning experienced by Moses, the servant of Yahweh. The sole reason for my absence for the past few weeks is that I was chained by series of Yuletide and New Year activities. It is not only a dog that can be chained. Human beings can also be chained. In fact I was chained from all sides. A dog is restrained by a single chain and put under lock and key. On my own part, I was chained from different parts of my body in such a way that I was totally weighed down. Even my tongue and my medulla oblongata were chained. Hence I could neither talk nor think. My thinking faculty was totally blocked with a strange stuff. My hands were chained in such a way that I could not lift up my fingers to hold a pen. My legs were chained as well, but I managed to utilize them to walk to the chapel to commune with my God; and to the refectory to fill my empty human tank.

The chains created deep wounds in my ankles due to restless movements from one area to the other. The impact of the chains on my body affected my thinking faculty such that ideas and ideologies disappeared from my medulla oblongata. Could you believe that I suffered from acute insomnia between Christmas 2023 and New Year 2024? Consequently I couldn't articulate for some time now. I even boarded articulated vehicle to see if I can articulate well. My sense of rationality was clouded by visible and invisible forces.

At Christmas we celebrate the Birthday of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. It is a joyful celebration. It is also a time of sober reflection in which we ought to rest our minds and bodies from the year's commitments. Unfortunately we are bored down by chains of religious, social, cultural and burial activities. After 25th December, the birthday of Jesus Christ, the days between 26 December and first week of January are packed with strenuous activities. These turn our legs into Johnny Walker or Jegede. Intending couples in class one pay the dowry mostly during the Yuletide and New Year celebrations. Those in class two do the traditional marriage ceremony. Finally those in class three go to the church to solemnize their marriage, which is called wedding. After the 'for better and for worse' commitment in the presence of God and the people, the just-wedded couple march down gloriously to the place of reception. Before you know it, the whole day is gone. Gate crashers enjoy this log of activities. A certain wise mad man after eating and drinking here and there during the Yuletide said, "If this is Christmas, then let's celebrate it every day."

Before Christmas jamboree, a lot of corpses are packed in the mortuary waiting for their burials immediately after the Yuletide celebration. Some are buried hurriedly immediately they died and their funerals postponed to the first week or second week of January. They really want to rest in peace in the Kingdom of God and not in the mortuary or in the grave. The troublesome corpses in the mortuary or in the grave do not worry because they are already wandering about restlessly in hell. Heaven or hell is a condition of happiness or sadness respectively after death. It is not a place as such. Do you still remember that the abbreviation R.I.P has double meaning? It can be rest in peace or rest in pieces. Those in heaven are resting in peace while those in hell are resting in pieces. Which will be your choice when the final bell rings? Indeed you cannot compare sleep with death.

After the living ushered in the New Year with prayers, gun-shots and bonfires, they joyfully embraced each other saying, "Happy survival!" What follows next is the burial or funeral of the deceased who did not survive into the New Year. Sirens from ambulances blast here and there with the peculiar sound of "Q naa! Q naa!! Q naa!!! This means he or she goes into the land of the dead. When a child is born, it cries by itself. While he or she cries, others rejoice at the coming of a bouncing baby boy (BBB) or a bouncing baby girl (BBG). When he or she dies, others cry for him or her. If he or she is in heaven, he/she rejoices. But if he or she is in hell, he/she cries as well. For one to cry at birth and cry at death is unfortunate. Saint Augustine says that God created us without our cooperation, but he cannot save us without our cooperation. The decision is ours to make during our earthly sojourn. We lost a good and generous parishioner shortly before 2023 Christmas. His demise is really painful. I pray God to console his family and to mercifully grant him eternal rest in heaven. Likewise may the Almighty and merciful God grant all the deceased who were buried after the Yuletide eternal rest. By God's grace we shall meet to part no more on the day of Resurrection. Let the bereaved families take heart. Death, according to William Shakespeare, is a necessary end which must come when it will come.

The month of January is almost over. The month of February is at the door-step. This year happens to be a leap year. Shall we leap joyfully or painfully as time goes? The high cost of living is already killing those who survived into the New Year 2024. Some have died. Some are half alive and half dead. Some are sick. Some are hungry and angry. Indeed hunger and anger are deadly. Which is preferable: Hunger or Anger? Is a hungry man not an angry man? God blessed our country Nigeria with abundant natural and human resources that would make us always happy. Unfortunately our past and present leaders mismanaged these God-given resources and thereby make us hungry and angry.

Insecurity of lives and properties is still starring us at the face in 2024. Terrorists, bandits and kidnappers are on rampage all over the country. Even the Capital Territory, Abuja, is not safe. Many of the residents of the Capital Territory are relocating elsewhere. The hunger that kills a rich man buries the poor man alive. If residents of Abuja are running away, then what shall those elsewhere do? If a priest or a bishop is chased out of the church by evil spirits, what would be the fate of the ordinary church members?

In the final analysis, Obi is no longer a boy. I am ageing gradually. Therefore I may not feature regularly as before. Or has anyone anti-ageing medicine? I wish you all happiness in the midst of economic hardship and insecurity. There is always hope in hopelessness. Check your blood pressure and worry pressure always.