Life is fickle - time is unforgiving

How strange life is, how fickle! How little is needed for one to be ruined or saved

While sitting on the entrance porch of the house and getting some fresh air, the gate opened quietly. It was Susan, the last child and only daughter of Don’s family. Don was a retired civil servant who enjoyed reading the dailies on his entrance porch and meditating afterwards. He was a melancholic.

As Susan entered the compound and walked towards her father, he smiled at her.

“Welcome dear, how was your day?” He asked.

“Beautiful,” she responded as she gave her dad a hug and went into the house. Don looked at her and said to himself,

“She looks exactly like my wife when she was her age.”

Don and Sola had been married for over two decades. They had a beautiful family of six children consisting of five boys and a girl. Don was the typical traditional African man who believed his decision trumped those of every other person in his household.

His wife, Sola, was a teacher and the motivator of the family. A very strong woman with a good heart who put the love of her family above all else. Whenever she set her heart to do anything, she went for it and always got the desired results.

As a couple with growing children, they had desired to own their own house. Don believed it was his responsibility as the man of the house to get it done. He went ahead to buy a piece of land so as to begin his building project.

He had employed the services of a quarry truck to deposit a truck load of gravel on the site when he got the shock of his life.

“Who are you and where are you from?” asked the rough looking strangers on the site.

“I own this place and I am set to begin work on it,” he replied.

The men looked around, went into the bush and then cut some really long canes. Flashing the canes before him, they said,

“Because you look like a gentle man, we will not use these on you; but look around here, if you ever come back here, not only will we exhaust the whole length of these canes on you, we will also use our machetes on you too!”

Don and the truck driver were shocked to say the least. He didn’t even bother to argue with them. He quietly entered his car and released the truck driver. He drove quietly with his heart pounding in a state of total confusion and shock to Mr. Bayo’s house.

Mr. Bayo had sold the land to him. On getting there, Mr. Bayo came out to greet him.

“Don’t greet me!” he shouted. “What happened to the land I bought from you and paid you in full?” he asked angrily.

“Mr. Don, I am so sorry. I had the intention of calling you about the latest development on the land.” he said.

“What development?” Don retorted.

“There is an issue with the family that owned the land originally. One of them had sold the land to two different people already, unknown to the family. You happen to be the third buyer.” Said Bayo.

Don went berserk when he heard the news. “How dare you?! How dare you stand before me and open your mouth at a convenient radius to spew this rubbish? Why are you just telling me?” he said angrily.

“Mr. Bayo, you know I don’t like trouble, but I give you just one week to return my money in full!” he shouted as he entered his car, slammed the door and zoomed off.

As soon as he got home, he honked as if there was an emergency. The children came running out to open the gate. He drove into the compound in a James Bond style leaving plumes of dust in his wake and didn’t even bother to respond to his children’s greeting.

He stomped angrily into the house and slammed the door. His wife, Sola, heard the sound of the door and rushed out from the kitchen.

“What is going on?” she asked as the children shrugged their shoulders and pointed in the direction of their parent’s room.

“It is daddy,’’ they said. As soon as she finished preparing dinner, she went into their bedroom and met Don lying on the bed with his gaze fixed to the ceiling.

“Darling, I heard the sound of the door and the children said you slammed it. Is there a problem?” she asked quietly.

“It is nothing serious,” he replied as he stood up to take off his clothes.

“Well, if you say so. Dinner is ready, let me serve your food,” she said as she left the room.

While at the table, he looked at the children and smiled.

“How was school today?” he asked. “Fine sir,” they answered. As soon as they were done eating, he went back into the bedroom.

Sola later joined him and he was forced to open up. “The land I thought I bought was a scam”, he said quietly.

Sola wasn’t too surprised as she told him, “There has been rumors flying around about that land and I remember I told you about it but you wouldn’t listen…..”

“Don’t even start”, he interjected.

After so many failed attempts at getting a full refund from Mr. Bayo, he gave up. He made some attempts to get another land to no avail. His wife got some information from her school about a government land that was available for sale. She got all the details and sold the idea to her husband but he wouldn’t hear any of it.

He later bought another land and lost it again, then another and still lost it. Unknown to him, Sola had gathered some funds and bought the land she told her husband about. Back at home, while Don was still sulking over the lands he had lost, his wife came in with the good news.

“Guess what darling?” she said cheerfully.

“What?” he retorted. “I have been able to buy that land I told you about and the documentation completed. We can now build our house that we have always dreamed of,” she said.

Don looked at her scornfully and said, “How dare you buy a land without my consent?” He then walked out of the house.

To say Sola was shocked and angry was an understatement. She felt like shouting at him but then became overwhelmed with emotions and burst into tears.

“Why is this man never supportive? God, what else do I have to do that I haven’t done?” she said as her tears continued to flow.

By the time her husband got back from where he had gone to, she probed further,

“What wrong have I done? A window of opportunity was opened for us and I decided to take advantage of it. How is that a crime? Is it a crime to love my family?” She went on and on as she took a pillow and left for the guest room.

Months went by and Sola tried to encourage her husband to begin the building project, but Don would have none of it. As far as he was concerned, Sola had no business buying the land on which they would build their house. It was his duty as the man of the house, so he thought.

As a teacher in one of the government colleges, Sola belonged to a number of co-operative societies and mustered all the funds she could to start the building project. Every time she encouraged her husband to go with her to the site, he would get really angry and nag at her. She remained undeterred by her husband’s behaviour and work continued on the site.

Once in a while, Don went to the site to check out the progress made. He barely gave her the much needed support. Being a teacher herself, Sola taught her son’s about responsibility, love and care just as she gave them the same. The boys did the cooking, cleaning and caring for their younger sister.

Emotionally, she was spread thin, especially because of her husband’s constant nagging. One particular year, their neighbor observed that work had stopped on the site. Mr. Tom, as he was fondly called, decided to look for the couple. He located Sola’s school to find out why work had stopped on their site.

“Good afternoon madam”, he greeted as he saw her in the staff room.

“Good afternoon sir”, she replied. “Well madam, I was just in the neighborhood and thought to say hello,” he said.

“Thank you sir,” she responded.

He went towards her table, took a seat and said, “We have not seen or heard from you and your husband for a while now, especially on your site. You know if you are able to complete your house on time, we’ll have more people around us and we won’t be lonely in that area”.

Mr. Tom’s comment struck some nerves in her as she asked him to take a walk with her to the school field. As they approached the field, she broke down in tears.

“Mr. Tom, I am tired. I am exhausted and I have had it up to here,” she said as she put her hand on her throat. My husband has not been supportive. He never stops nagging me. He accuses me of wanting to take over his responsibilities. Anytime I ask him to follow me to the site, we argue. Look at me, I am at work, when I get home, I take care of the family and I still have to be the one to take the lead on the building project,” she said as she poured out her heart .

“I am so sorry you have had to go through all these alone. I’ll see if I can have a word with your husband but please don’t be discouraged. I want you to be strong for your children. After all, when all is said and done, it’s their home,” said Mr. Tom as he encouraged her.

A few weeks later, Mr. Tom was able to meet with Don. They had several hours of man to man conversations and made him see reasons why he had to support his wife. From that day on, as if he was visited by an angel, he gave his wife the needed support and by the end of the following year, they moved into their own house.

Sola was indeed on top of the world as she and her husband could say they were home owners. She was also grateful to Mr. Tom for his intervention and they became very close neighbours and family friends.

A few years later, what started as a headache developed into more serious issues. Sola was always in and out of hospital and prayer houses. Eventually, she saw a specialist and was diagnosed with cancer. The whole family was shaken. Sola who was the driving force in the home had now been confined to her bedroom.

Several sessions of chemotherapy had made her lose her hair and become a shadow of herself. She who used to take care of her household now needed utmost care. She had become unbelievably weak. She was scheduled for surgery as she was determined to fight the disease and live her life to the fullest once again.

At the hospital, Don and the older children waited patiently for Sola to come out of surgery as they hoped and prayed for hours. After about four hours of waiting, the doctor came out of the theatre and beckoned Don into his office.

“How far?” asked Don impatiently as he entered the doctor’s office.

“We tried our best,” said the doctor. “And?” asked Don anxiously. “I am afraid we lost her. We did all we could. I am so sorry,” said the doctor.

“You did what? Who did you lose? Where is my wife?” he queried as he broke down in tears. He was inconsolable. He wept like a child. The children heard their father’s voice and rushed into the doctor’s office. Seeing their father on the floor crying, they asked about their mother. “Your mother has left me!” he said as he wailed uncontrollably.

A family member who was with them at the hospital had called some other family members to break the sad news as he tried to console Don and take him home. Before the end of that day, sympathisers, friends and colleagues of the deceased trooped to their home. Don refused to be a man this time. “She is the reason I have a roof over my head and now she has left me,” he wailed not minding who was listening. That day, the man in him died.

Don lived on many years after his wife’s demise as he had the love and support of his children. They never left his side. All his sons had married good wives and they were as daughters to him. They took turns to take care of him and never left him for a moment. In all, he was never a happy man. He was overwhelmed with loneliness as a result of his wife’s demise.

Because of the values Sola had instilled in her sons, they grew up to become men who loved, supported and took good care of their wives. Don battled all manner of ailments as he grew older and he was well taken care of.

He usually travelled abroad for medical checkups. During one of his stay in the UK with one of his sons, he saw how his son Daniel took care of his wife. Anytime Daniel got home before his wife, he took care of their young children and prepared a meal for his wife. He observed how Daniel’s wife was committed to him and when he could not take it anymore, he called them to have a discussion with them.

“I am sorry for the way I treated your mother. Honestly, I don’t know why I was always angry with her even though she always had my back. I am truly very sorry,” he said as he made to kneel and ask for their forgiveness.

“Daddy, No! You can’t be kneeling for us. All that is in the past now,” said Daniel. “We hold nothing against you,” he continued, as he lifted his father and gave him a tight hug. “You are my dad, my pop and I love you.” He said.

Don had learnt too late in life that one of the best things you can do for your children is to love and support their mother and for this, he never forgave himself. He never remarried and continued to battle a lot of ailments, coupled with extreme loneliness even though he had the love and support of his children. He lived to a ripe old age of eighty. He died peacefully in his home surrounded by his children after he had blessed them.

Lesson Learnt:

  • As a man, one of the best things you can do for your children is to love and support their mother
  • It doesn’t matter who gets the job done as long as it is done
  • Most times, putting aside one’s ego can never be overemphasized
  • When you teach your sons like you teach your daughters, the society is better for it
  • You are as good as what you make of your spouse

Cheers, Dupe Bobadoye

 

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17 thoughts on “Life is fickle – Short story”

      1. What a beautiful piece? Was touched by every lines and blessed. More wisdom for you. Thanks .
        Great lessons for both Men and Women. I.e. Married couples need to see this piece. Both parties should be supportive. Instill good values in your children for future sake. Be your children’s friend and invest in their future so that you can reap it. Good women are great asset to their family. I hail good women out there for all there sacrifices and love always. Your life will not be cut short at your prime age in life. Up good women and men!

  1. An interesting story,I felt sorry for the loss of Sola,it really touched me…and the part of opening mouth at a convenient radius made me laugh uncontrollably. Nice one Dupe

  2. Most time we never know the value of what we have until we lose it. Don at least had opportunity to realize his folly before his wife passed.

  3. Nice and enlightening piece of writing. Kids should be able to be loved and taught to be independent when it comes to matters of the home.

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