When I wrote this story some 3 years ago, I never envisaged that a time would come in the history of our nation, Nigeria, that an ordinary thing like conducting an election would become an impossible task; just like almost everything done seemed like an uphill task, since the new captain of the estate took charge of piloting the affairs of the country.
I would love to read your response to this story and see if I had a foresight of what would become of my beloved country when I wrote this story
THE RHYTHM OF LIFE
I sat at the waterfront, absorbed in looking at the flow of the river as the water cascading down from the mangrove roots in the swamp to join the main body of the river carrying in its wake all the debris and flotsam into the open sea.
Briefly, my attention was caught by a school of fish that came up on the far side of the bank of the river. They were just swimming about, or so it seemed, picking on the dirty that was being carried along by the water.
They were neither in a hurry nor in anxiety about what nature would bring upon their lives. They swam up and down against the current forming different formation of a drill in a telepathic uniformity without any leader giving out orders or instructions.
Their drilling in military precision brought into my consciousness the activities of human in a similar situation. How could a man be so uniformly organized and act in a perfect harmony of his life and the society without being commanded in a peculiar pattern by a superior?
I sat back at the edge of the jetty watching the display of these aquatic beings as my thoughts strayed. The piper plays his pipe according to the dictate of the one that pays him. The dancer danced to the beat of the drummer.
I just imagined the dance in a burial ceremony I witnessed over the weekend. From dust to down, the drummers were beating their leather instruments and the dancers were wiggling their bodies to the beat, never stopping. When the drums stop the singers also stopped singing so were the dancers.
I looked back at the school of fish. There was neither a beating of drums, nor blowing of the bagpipe, and yet they were performing a very colorful march past in the water. In human life, the military drill is performed to the sound of the martial music from the band. The band beats according to the band commander’s instruction and signal.
The congregation in the church dance in praise and worship according to the songs of the choir, who sing in harmony to the instrumentalists; who in turn, beat their instruments according to the instruction of the conductor.
So life rolls on according to the rhythm of life. Who is controlling the school of fish as they play in the water? Some were so elated that they even jumped out of the water and back in to join their colleagues. That was also their undoing.
All of sudden, and as one body, they dispersed in all direction and dived into the depth of the water. Then I saw the reason. From the sky, a seagull swooped down into the water like an attacking jet fighter. The bird struck the water in one powerful stroke.
For a moment I thought it has impaled itself into the water. Then it came out from the water, dangling one unfortunate fish in its bill and flew toward the closest bank of the river to savor its catch and to satisfy its hunger.
I have been sitting so close to that school of fish and could not do anything to catch them, just thinking how wonderful and secure their lives are, playing in their habitation.
Then from the sky beyond my vision, this gull swooped down and took its pick among the fish to satisfy its hunger.
That struck a chord in me. I remembered my Sunday School lesson. In Matthew 6:25 – 32 which says, “That is why I am telling you to stop worrying about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body what you will wear……….Look at the birds in the sky, they don’t plant or harvest, or gather food into barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. You are more valuable than they are, aren’t you? ….”
I smiled to myself, stood up, picked a pebble and threw it toward the spot where the fish were playing. That bird was well positioned to see the school of fish from the sky.
It positioned itself. Did I just say that? Yes. Position yourself and what happens? That bird was not lying down in its nest among the trees. It was in the sky flying around just as the fish were also playing in the water. Then at the right moment, it swoops down and made a catch.
I came down from the jetty and walked along the bank of the river, searching into my consciousness what will one do to position himself.
The sun was almost sinking into the horizon as I walked along, a perfect day for a walk. The wind was blowing in gently from the sea and I was in total tranquility with nature and could become part of the features of the shore.
I came to an opening along the shore where the water has cut out a passage. As I bent to look into the water, I saw a fish idling away at a spot. It was stroking the water with its fins, like an engine revving up, to balance itself, just waiting and paddling against the slow-moving water.
I stood there to watch what it was going to do. Then it exploded in my head like a blow. I winced at the pain of the realization. The fish – and I think it was a tilapia – was in a position. It was not just idling away in the water, it was in a position. What is it in a position for?
The answer came much sooner than I had to wait. From another corner of the small water, a line of shrimps came out, swimming cautiously down the water. I noticed the tilapia pulling back into the shadow of the water. I was going to throw something at the shrimps to alert them, but decided against the instinct, just to see what will happen.
As they got to within a striking distance of the fish, It struck out in a wild splashing of water and mud down the stream. When the water was cleared of the mud, I could not see the fish or the shrimps.
Life is full of opportunities and chances, I said to myself. When you positioned yourself for any opportunity, a chance may come someday and you will have to take it. I turned and walked back to the jetty. This is one healthy and educative day for me. I felt my feet light upon the sand.
The sun was now behind a gray cloud extending from the horizon. I looked at the sky above the river and saw a swamp of bats flying from the mangrove forest across the river into the bush in the mainland. I know about what those bats are going to do. They are going to take a position in the bush for the night against fruits.
These noisome bats reminded me of my childhood days in the village. As kids, we would wake up sometime around 4 AM, and go into the forest in search of mango fruits. We have to go that early if we are to pick any mango. We will take along our bush lamps made up of an empty tin cup with a hole made on the cover with a small pipe passing through.
A piece of cloth is passed through the pipe into the cup filled with kerosene. When you put light on the cloth at the end of the pipe, the kerosene will be feeding the fire and given you light. With this, we will go into the forest to search for mango.
While we were picking up the fruit on the ground, the bats that have swooped into the forest will be busy on top of the trees trying to plug off the ripe fruits. But since they were too big for them, they would just push them to the ground for us to pick. We would be hearing them fighting and struggling among themselves on top of the tree.
Thinking back to those days now, I could understand the symbiotic relationship between those bats and humans, living in natural harmony just being in position at the right time. What an awesome God you are, I said, looking up into the sky where the invisible eye of the Almighty is teaching me His ways to understanding Him.