Tuesday, August 25, 2020

certain Nigerian woman, whose third daughter gave birth to her first child in London, was invited by her son-in-law to come and nurse her grand child and to stay with them for a period of time. She was so excited over the international invitation. Her excessive joy to travel oversea for the first time in her life, kept her sleepless for many nights. Immediately, she started to pack her luggage. Her clothes alone were contained in three big boxes. Then food items such as coconut, orange, tapioca (abacha mkpo), tubers of yam, cocoyam, heads of plantain, palm fruit, palm kernel, mangoes, paw-paw, pea, breadfruit, local maggi (ogiri), etcetera, filled five biggest Ghana-must-go bags. She wanted to surprise her daughter and her son-in-law with the above sophisticated foodstuffs on her arrival in London.

On the day of her oversea journey, the grandmother, who was sixty years old and was averagely lettered, charted a goods van to convey her and the eight heavy boxes and bags to Port Harcourt Intentional Airport. As the driver of the goods van was offloading the heavy loads, the people around were wondering. The airport job seekers assisted her in transporting them to the arrival hall for check in. When it was her turn to check in, the attendant asked her to present her luggage for weighing. She pointed at those eight heavy boxes and bags. The attendant shouted, "Oh, my God! Woman, what are all these?" The woman with beaming smile replied, "I am traveling to London to nurse my grand child and my daughter who just put to bed. My clothes are in these three big boxes while the five big bags contain assorted foodstuff. How can I visit my daughter and my son-in-law in London empty handed? Please all these must accompany me into the plane." The attendant laughed sarcastically at her. The grandmother replied, "My dear, this is not a laughing matter. Check me in quickly with my heavy luggage. I am being awaited in London." The attendant clearly told her that she was only allowed to carry 45 kilogram weight of luggage. When those three boxes and five bags were weighed, they gave rise to 450 kg. She was asked to select the most essential things from those boxes and bags that would not exceed 45kg in all. The grandmother looked up and down and began sweating because it was a herculean task for her.

All the efforts she made to do the selection were abortive. Everything in those boxes and bags was very important to her. She became restless. Out of confusion she ran to the toilet six times to ease herself, but all to no avail. Her indecision consumed several hours. Everyone on the London flight was checked in except her. At last she missed the flight. Some of the perishable foodstuffs started to rot and were producing foul odour. The worst was that the local maggi (ogiri) in one of the foodstuff bags began to produce uncomfortable smell. Flies of different species assembled there in large number and were perching on the spotted big bag and on everything and everybody around. Consequently, she was ordered to leave the airport with those heavy boxes and bags with immediate effect. She did so in excessive anger. Excess luggage plus excessive anger crashed her down. That was how her London journey was aborted.

Some time ago, I was on transit. At a spot I saw three helpless and worn out women returning from farm. They waved at me pitifully for a lift. My mind convinced me to stop and to convey them to their destination. But before stopping, I prayed piously that I might not fall prey to any set-up, because these days are evil. Indeed it has become difficult to distinguish between a mechanic and a mad man; a chorister and a graduate. Nevertheless, charity must be done, but with maximum caution. At last I marched on my breaks and asked those helpless and tired women where they were heading to. From their reply it was just a stone throw. Then I asked them to enter my car. Two of them were carrying light luggage while the third was carrying excess luggage which couldn't be contained in the booth. Unfortunately she was left behind when I drove off. I looked through the rear mirror and noticed that she was wailing. I was touched but there was nothing I could do. Her excess luggage kept her behind.

If you are travelling by air, land or sea, it is advisable to travel light. Heavy luggage can hinder your journey. In eternal journey, no one carries any luggage at all. Have you not witnessed this during the burial of the dead? Even the rich leave this earth empty handed. The casket in which one is buried and the clothes worn are just food for the ants dwelling in the grave. During the burial of a certain nutritious fat man, I saw a conglomeration of big ants jubilating as his remains were being lowered into the grave. Also, somewhere else during the interment of a certain wealthy man, the family inserted a hundred million naira inside his coffin. He instructed his wife in his will to make sure that the huge sum of money is kept beside his corpse in the coffin, so that if God refuses him entrance into heaven, he would use the hundred million to bride Him and the Angels at the Gate of heaven. The relations and friends of the family were around during the insertion of the huge sum of money. It is risky to engage thieves in a secret deal. On the night after the burial, a group of noble thieves stormed the grave and dug it open. They opened the coffin and stole the hundred million naira and disappeared, living the casket and grave open. The news of the burglary in the land of the dead spread like wild fire. The entire family members, relations and friends gathered again for second mourning and second burial. What baffled everyone most was the inability of the buried rich man to strike down the nocturnal thieves when they invaded into his precious grave. If they had known that the departed wealthy man would not use the millions of money in his eternal journey, they would have used it to solve family financial problems. Indeed vanity of vanity, all is vanity!

The Holy Writ clearly states, "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out of it" (1Timothy 6:7). Job while mourning his departed children said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return" (Job 1:21). No wonder our Muslim brothers bury their dead ones naked, wrapped with white linen and laid into the grave without a coffin. Whatever the method of interment, no one carries any luggage in the journey beyond. The Igbo describes death as "a nawa a ghara." This means that you leave everything behind at death. The means of transportation to the world beyond has no space for carrying of luggage, whether light or excess. Even what you eat does not give you energy in undertaking the eternal spiritual journey. Those who are fat or who have big belly become advantage of the ants in the grave. The ants are sad when a skinny person is buried.

Three things await each and every one of us: death, judgment, heaven or hell. The Catechism of the Christian Doctrine tells us that God created us to know Him, to love Him, to serve here on earth and to be happy with Him forever in heaven. But if we fail to fulfill these demands while on earth, then we shall end up in hell. God forbid! The loving God does not wish any one to go to hell. It is our stubbornness in sin and lack of charity that can lead us there. That's why Saint Paul says, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap" (Galatians 6:7). In other words, as we make our beds here on earth, so we shall lie on them in the next world. In essence it is the good deeds or bad deeds we performed here that would accompany us in our journey to eternity. Good deeds attract heavenly reward while bad deeds attract eternal damnation.

The syllabus for the last judgment will be based on the Commandments of God and on charity done for others. A certain man asked Jesus Christ what he would do to inherit the Kingdom of God. In reply Jesus told him to keep the Commandments of God. The anxious man said that he has been keeping them right from his childhood. Then the Lord said to him, "For you one thing is lacking. Go, sell what you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come and follow me" (Mark 10:21). The man's face fell and he went away. Jesus concluded that it will be hard for a rich man to enter into heaven. It is not just wealth that can prevent anyone entering into heaven; rather it is the attachment to it. The charitable works we do here on earth will propel our journey to heaven. In summary, we ought to keep the Commandments of God, repent from our sins and do charitable works. I wish each and every one of us safe journey to Heaven.