FEATURE ARTICLE

Tuesday, May 26, 2020
amobipchuks@yahoo.com

STAY AT HOME

here is no smoke without fire. A frog does not run in the daylight for nothing. A law is made for order to reign. A lawless society is heading to ruin. Man is a free being. But his freedom is not boundless. There is a limit to everything. Restriction to human activities is geared toward the achievement of a goal, which may be immediate or in potency.

During the first year of my philosophical studies in the senior seminary, we had a 9-day spiritual Retreat which was to be done in absolute silence. It was a herculean task for some of us who were loquacious. We were strictly warned that any breach of the nine days' silence would attract immediate expulsion from the seminary. Some of us cooperated well. Some pretended outwardly but were noisy internally. First and second day came and gone. On the third day, the silence became unbearable for a few who were talkative by nature. How can a sane person remain in silence for nine days without uttering a word? So, one of us could not bear remaining in the absolute silence on the third day. After launch on that day, he ran towards the stream at the outskirt of the seminary to ease himself verbally. He was almost suffocating in words. There in isolation he began to shout on top of his voice. He soliloquized and shouted for over fifteen minutes before returning to the seminary. On his way back, he told himself loudly, "Yes, I have released the many words trying to suffocate me for three days now. Let me go back and face the remaining six days in agony just to become a priest. I want to become a priest but not a silent one. O God, I take refuge in you." He returned to the seminary smiling throughout that day.

In the early 1980's my father bought a new pick-up goods van. He was to utilize it in conveying goods from Onitsha to Jos on frequent basis. Initially he couldn't drive. Hence he hired an expert young driver. Whenever they drove down to Onitsha for purchase of bails of cloths, they spent some days at our family home in the remote part of the rural area then. The driver who lived in Jos urban town found it very difficult to cope. In other words, life in the village was very boring for him. He complained that there was nothing to do except to eat and to sleep. He repeated it often and often such that we nicknamed him 'Eat and Sleep.' When he arrived our home now and then, we shouted, "Eat and Sleep!" His joviality made the relationship between him and us very cordial. The code of human life is: 'Eat, Work and Sleep'. Boredom craves in when the 'work' is removed. Man is made to eat in order to live and to work. It is unfortunate if one lives only to eat.

The year 2020 will remain indelible in the history of humanity. At the dawn of the year, we all hoped that it would be a year of fulfillment. The figures 20 - 20 entail fullness. Unfortunately it turned out to be a year of calamity and backwardness. It marks a year of the most infectious disease never had in the history of mankind. A disease known as Coronavirus (COVID-19) ravaged the whole world in matter of days. It began in a city in China called Wuhan. From there it spread to the entire universe, claiming thousands of lives. Hence it is regarded as a pandemic disease. Many have gone. Many are still going to the world beyond. Many are hospitalized worldwide. It is a dangerous infection from person to person. Human interaction and transport by air, land and sea made the spread more efficacious. At a time, the International Government, National Government, State Government, Local Government and Town Unions had no option than to order each and everyone: "Stay at home!"

Indeed the 'Stay at home' order is not as easy as the order itself. Only staying at home can guarantee stoppage in the spread of the most dangerous virus so far experienced in the history of humanity. In the developed and organized countries, the order is much easier to keep. But for the Third World and disorganized countries, it is like hell fire. In Nigeria for instance, to stay at home looks like impossibility. How can people who are always on the move to make ends meet stay at home for many weeks or months? Someone asked, "Stay at home and die in poverty?" After staying at home for three days, wailings were heard from here and there. For some, staying at home in hunger is more dangerous than COVID-19. Such persons are of the view that instead dying of hunger, it is better that the coronavirus kills them. What many suffer more is hunger-virus. Coronavirus and hunger-virus are two evils. Nevertheless, moral law states that where there are two unavoidable evils, you choose the lesser evil. Thus experts in handling cornonavirus opine that hunger-virus is the lesser evil. But those who live from hand to mouth object. They prefer to die of coronavirus than to die of hunger. What is your opinion?

A certain man said that his wife is more dangerous than coronavirus. So, instead of dying at her hands while staying at home, it is better that he goes out and die as a result of coronavirus. Is it not true that the man who marries an evil wife is already in hellfire? Likewise with the woman who marries an evil man. There is a couple somewhere who changed their modus operandi due to the breakout of this dreaded COVID-19. They used to lie close to each other on their matrimonial bed at night. But now as a result of the 'social distance' precaution against coronavirus, the wife stays six feet away from him. Since their bed is not up to six feet, she lies on a mat on the floor. The husband who is worried asked her to come close to him on the bed. But each time she replied, "Please maintain social distance." However, when it comes to money matters she comes close to him. In return the husband told her, "Please maintain social distance." Thus they now live like cat and mouse. Before, the husband used to call her 'Honey' while she called him 'Darling'. Now he calls her 'Social Distance' while she calls him 'COVID-19'. Who between the two is the victor or the vanquished?

An idle mind is a devil's workshop. Thus staying at home doing nothing is a call to iniquity. An Igbo proverb says that an elder who always stays at home in idleness, eats the food reserved for children. A certain 65-year old man was spotted somewhere during the stay-at-home playing with little children in a heap of sand. Even he started eating some handfuls of the sand with those little children below the age of reason. One other elderly man was caught during the stay-at-home drinking infant's liquid milk from the feeding-bottle reserved for a sleeping one month old baby. When his wife caught him red handed, he pleaded, "Please forgive me. It is the side effect of staying at home." The unmerciful wife ordered him to kneel down with hands up for about thirty minutes as punishment. At the end he was shouting, "Thanks Madam! Thanks Madam!! I will not do it again. It was the devil's handiwork."

Some husbands and wives who used to be Johnny Walkers before were forced to stay at home against their wish. They used to abandon their children at school in the guise of learning during school hours and extra-curricular activity commonly known as lesson which lasts till late in the evening. At sunset the couple and their children come home for supper and sleep. Early the next morning it is "to your tents, Oh Israel." Positively the stay-at-home becomes a time of reunion. The parents have no choice than to stay with their children for days. The children themselves feel the impact of parenthood. Negatively one parent complained that his children eat like devastating locusts while staying at home.

The stay-at-home is for good and for bad. Some rested for the first time in their lifetime. Some slept like corpse every day. For some, life became 'eat and sleep'. Those who are worried could not sleep because they think of what comes next after the stay-at-home. After staying at home for some days, an anonymous man began to find fault in his wife. Out of hunger and anger he beat her senselessly such that she entered into coma. Later she died in the hospital. The husband is now on the run. Please if you see any husband running alone, catch him and take him to the nearest police station. He may be the culprit.

There are the good and ugly sides of any occurrence. In fact many unexpected children will be born months after the stay-at-home. A particular middle-aged man queried, "How can I stay at home watching my pretty and precious wife like television on daily basis?" His wife is now pregnant of triplets plus the seven children they have already. Three plus seven gives rise to ten in these days of economic hardship and uncertainties. He is appealing to the state and federal governments to come to his aid because they ordered the stay-at-home. In months to come we shall see many newly born children answering Atuanya or Eyiuche (Unexpected). Some girls may not go back to school as a result of illicit pregnancy got while staying at home. Coronavirus or COVID-19 must go to blazes. O God, have mercy and delivery us from this deadly plague!

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