ccording to Qoheleth, the son of David and king in Jerusalem, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanities! What profit has man from all the labor which he toils at under the sun? One generation passes and another comes, but the world forever stays" (Ecclesiastes 1:1 - 4). Human life is like a passing shadow. Man is composed of matter (body) and spirit (soul). The body is mortal while the soul is immortal. At death the body corrupts while the soul goes back to the Creator for judgment. At the resurrection the risen body and the soul will unite once again in perpetuity.
A fortnight ago, I took a patient to a special scanning center in Enugu. As I was cooling myself under an Air-conditioner in the awaiting room, the door opened. What did I see? I saw a beautiful young lady of about 19 years old walking like a ghost, held side by side by two average men, one at the right hand side and the other at the left hand side. Her beauty has been punctuated negatively by her skeletal appearance. A shaped wooden object was used to hold her neck tight to allow her make a movement. From below, a pipe was passed from her private part into a plastic bag for artificial urination. I glanced pitifully at her and sighed, saying, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." Tears ran down my cheeks. To avoid embarrassing those sitting side by side with me, I covered my face with my hands and staggered outside. I cried for the lady because of her bad health condition, even though I did not know her. But she is a daughter of Eve while I am Adam's son. Hence, she is my sibling in the order of creation. If she were healthy, she would have been walking majestically along the street, swinging her waist as if she does not go to toilet.
Few months ago, I went to visit an accident victim at the orthopedic hospital. I saw a nightmare there. I saw many patients with various degrees of disability. Some were tied and hung up like fish being dried on a fire. At the other end of the ward, what I saw looked like a monster. His nose was entirely severed from his face and he was breathing through the anus. I beheld this patient wreathing in great pains. I slumped for about five minutes on the floor of the hospital ward. By God's grace I was resuscitated after drinking two glasses of mixed liquid milk and stout.
As I was recuperating from the sudden slumping, my big eye-balls fell on a middle age man bathed with acid by his lawful wedded wife. She gave him the hot bath for being caught in the very act of infidelity. He was almost skinned alive like a cow in the abattoir. I saw death written all over his charred body. Why did the wife act so wickedly? I thought marriage is for better and for worse. Hear this logic: She caught him in a worse condition and gave him a worse treatment. Anyway on the day of the final judgment, the couple would settle their case at God's judgment seat.
No condition is permanent. My heart pump nearly ceased last week as I was taking an evening walk along Poverty Street in Awka, Anambra State. I couldn't believe it. I cleared my oval face and I saw a wretched man whose face looked familiar to me. He was squatting beside a gutter begging for alms. His eyes and my eyes collided on a perpendicular line. Surprisingly I shouted, "Who am I seeing!?" He starred sorrowfully at me and started sobbing like a hungry baby. I asked him, "Are you not Honourable Richman Akuagwuagwu I knew in those good days? What happened?" He sighed tearfully and replied, "I trusted in my wealth and was later hit by a sudden natural disaster. Things became worse for me. Instead of committing suicide, I ended up begging here at Poverty Street in Awka. Please pray for me. Before parting, I imparted the Trinitarian blessings on him. To make my prayer more effective, I dipped my hands into my leaking pocket and gave him the sum of two thousand naira. This made him to see vision for me.
My dear, one certain healthy man was crying that he had no shoes until he saw a man without feet. He eventually knelt down and prayed, "Thank you God that I am able to stand on my feet and walk." A blind man was cursing God for being blind until he perceived the shout of a madman roaming the streets. He fell on his knees and prayed, "I am grateful to you God that I am not mad." A mad man was passing along a street and was vomiting nonsense from his lips. Eventually an ambulance was conveying a dead man, who was the breadwinner of his family, for burial as the bereaved family members were moaning hopelessly. The mad man stood still and asserted, "God, thank you that I am not dead." Yes, human life is full of vanities. Nothing is static. Thank your God in whatever condition you find yourself. If you are bemoaning your present condition, do you know that the worse could have happened? Consider this comparative: Bad, worse, worst. Since a black hen can lay white eggs, all hope is not lost.
Recently I went into the morgue to see the corpse of my relative who died unexpectedly. As I stepped in there, cold shivers fell all over my body. Just outside the morgue I saw many new corpses, big and small, lying here and there. Some were being infused with anti-corruption chemicals. They were all naked. But for respect's sake, they were covered temporally with loin cloths. When I went inside the mortuary itself, I ran out of breath. All over the places were lying lifeless bodies of men, women, youths and children. Some were stood like log of dry woods on the walls. Some were laid on cement tables. Some were laid on bare floor. I looked at their faces and saw ugly death itself. I was the only living human being there. Even I saw the lifeless body of my fellow priest lying among the dead. I called him by name but there was no response. Fear confronted me inside the mortuary as I stood among the dead. As if I was dreaming, I fell into an ecstasy and saw myself lying among the dead bodies in that morgue. The deadly odour emanating from the corpses entered into my digestive system as if I am a cannibal. I heard the voices of the dead calling on me to come and lie down with them. I nodded my head in disapproval. My body was becoming stiff as fear ceased me. I tried to run away but stumbled over a giant corpse lying on the floor. I fell on top of the corpse as the mortuary door was speedily shut by unknown hands. I shouted, "No, no! Leave me alone! My time is not yet up!" I jumped up acrobatically and bolted away.
The temporal joy surrounding our human existence in this world often leads us into forgetting that we shall die. The desire of possessing worldly things often blindfolds us into losing the eternal Beatific Vision. We trample over one another to achieve our aims. The rich continues to get richer while the poor continues to get poorer. On the political platform, anomalies happen here and there. Some of our politicians practice the philosophy of the End justifies the Means. Often the Judiciary, which is the last hope of the common man, is bought over by the highest bidder. Few days ago twenty Judges were dismissed in Ghana for being influenced in their judgment with money and sex. St Paul puts it right when he says, "The love of money is the root of all evils and there are some who, pursuing it have wandered away from the faith and so given their souls any number of fatal wounds" (1 Tim.6: 10). Human life in Nigeria has been disvalued to the extent that scrupulous elements among us kidnap innocent persons and expose them to dangers just for ransom. Some victims have been killed wantonly even after collecting the ransom which runs in millions of Naira. Vanity of vanities, all is vanity! The problem with us human beings is that we refuse to learn from history.