• Friday, July 19, 2024
businessday logo


When a wise old man talks…


Thank you for your kind wish and like I said earlier, if I have lived rather long, it’s all to the fact that I am nature’s true friend…I honour it and in return, it gifts me with life… in nature, there are answers.’

‘To all our questions, right?’

‘To all our worries, challenges… and even questions, and you can go on and on, naming them… nature is the ultimate answer-machine.’

‘Hmmm, Papa,’ I called, a bit in thought, wondering if he was right.

‘A good sleep resolves yesterday’s worry if only you let go,’ Papa informed. I sat quietly beside Papa. Wondering. He continued: ‘When nature says yes, don’t attempt to say no because nature’s revolt is always disastrous to the human being.’

‘But Papa.’ I began and halted. I was responding to his request. Surprisingly, Papa let out a very loud laughter. ‘Papa, you are laughing.’

‘Yes,’ he acquiesced. ‘I just recalled when someone wished his great-grandfather would join his ancestors.’

‘Why would he wish for that?’ I asked.

‘I quizzed him too and he said the old man had lived his life,’ Papa informed.

‘But that is not fair because I don’t wish death for anyone.’

‘It’s to the extent of the man’s knowledge,’ he informed, a bit in thought. ‘You see, I never get angry with anyone who displays his ignorance.’

‘It sometimes does frustrate me, Papa.’

‘It’s the way we define phenomena that shapes our views, that gives shapes to our perspectives and these reveal who we are, you know.’ It was Papa.

‘I know,’ I agreed.

‘The young man must have thought the old man has enjoyed his life on earth but he doesn’t know that what gives us pleasure changes shapes and forms along our age track,’ he informed, pausing. Papa laughed again. There was something about it that made me a bit uncomfortable. He looked at me. I guessed this laughter had something about me in it. I wasn’t wrong. ‘Tony, many years ago, you did rain-bath and, no one could stop you,’ he added, looking at me. ‘You fought with anyone that tried to hold you back. In fact, I pitied your mother for you gave her hell,’ he announced. I was lost. ‘Do you still do rain-bath?’ Papa asked.

‘Of course not, I don’t do that anymore, Papa. In fact, I run from the rains.’

‘Great, good answer and I am happy you are not embarrassed by your past… for every little bit of it adds to the whole of you in front of me,’ he pointed out before he added: ‘I only wished that young man was here to understand better… I really think I am too young to die.’ Light chuckles tightly held my lips. I held myself. ‘Don’t ever laugh at my wish, Tony. And, I mean it when I say I am too young to die for life’s truly a sweet voyage.’

‘I agree with you.’

Unwittingly, I took a look at my wrist. It was a few minutes past eight. Night was nigh. Papa caught me.

‘Darkness has several ways it dismisses good people but I have a problem with it,’ Papa said.

‘With darkness, hmmm?’

‘Its power to congregate bad people is enormous,’ he informed. I nodded in both amazement and agreement. It was some fresh knowledge and I love learning at the frontiers. Papa stood up lazily. His bones cracked into places.

‘One last message from me to you,’ he began before gently dropping his glass cup on the bench. ‘I will say it the way a white-man said it to me,’ he informed. I was waiting. ‘Don’t butt-rub with a porcupine as you journey through life.’

‘I will not… I will not,’ I assured him. It’s too good a message.

We parted ways for the night. Two days later, Papa left for the village. I miss Papa.