Still thinking about the beauty of nature on a lonely beach, I had an unexpected visitor who took me down memory lane. Mind sharing my thoughts with me?
I cannot explain what fancy this running water has to do with the way I think about life and the way the nature of things revolve and shape into one harmonious entity.
I was sitting at the edge of the jetty, looking out into the vast water flowing slowly down the river. My back turned toward the camp.
I felt his presence a moment before he touched my shoulder. He came so quietly behind me that even a cat could have made a scratching sound on the board.
I turned to see the face of an old man with a wolfish grin starring down at me. He wore a raffia woven hat that was almost covering his eyes.
“Can I sit beside you my son,” he said, his voice has a little quiver.
Before I could answer him, he has sat down at the edge of the jetty with his legs hanging down almost touching the water, just the way I was sitting.
“It’s you, Sir!” I exclaimed, almost falling off the edge of where I was sitting, recognition flooding into my eyes.
The last time I had met him was in the city and he has left me so mysteriously with a lot of questions I thought I have touched an Angel.
“Yes, it’s me,” he answered beaming at me. “it does not surprise you I could find you here?” he asked, his eyes sweeping over the river and the huts that made up this little fishing settlement.
“Surprised?” I asked with a giggle. “There is nothing about you that would give me a surprise after our last meeting Sir. You know, I was going around town asking people if I had touched an angel,” I said, looking at him enquiringly.
He saved his face clean, though showing signs of wrinkle considering his age, just like the last time we sat together at the balcony. The eyes deep and shinning were showing his superior intelligence, which I now considered as divine.
“And what did the people say you have touched?” he asked, his eyes burrowing deep into my thoughts.
“Well,” I said, looking away to the far side of the river where a little canoe with two people on board appeared, bobbing on the waves, trying to cross over against the swift ebbing tide. I look back to him and continued. “something interested them in the story you told me; ‘Conflicting Reality’ and the examples you shared with me.”
“And what did you learn about the story yourself,” he asked looking at me.
He leaned sideways on his left arm, adjusted his gown with the other. I saw that he was wearing a white long-sleeved flowing gown that went lower than his knees, on a black trouser. His legs were bare; that is unusual. it was the reason he had crept up on me with no footstep being heard. I looked behind us to see where he has left them. But I could see nowhere he has left his shoes.
“Sir, how did you come to the camp?” I asked him. I have been sitting here for the past 2 hours and saw no speed boat pulling up here to drop off any person, or anybody come in with a canoe.
“As you can see, almost everybody has left for fishing, how did you come to this camp?” I asked puzzled.
“You will not want to ask that,” he said, flashing his white teeth at me.
“Sir,” I drew up one of my legs so I can face him. “I have thought about what you told me concerning conflicting reality in the world. That whatever action I take in reaction to a situation also has an alternative action that could also produce an acceptable outcome.
“You posited that spiritual reality is not in the tendon with physical reality.”
“The reality depends on who is asking, and who is accepting. It means what it accepts as truth. The reality of a situation or condition is what any rational thinking accept as truth, and with no variation could view which.” I stopped and watched him smiling at me.
He clapped his hand together and poked my chest with his forefinger. “That is what reality is all about,” he said and continued. “However, in the real world, we have two types of realities. One is about the reality in the real world where one sees things naturally and physically with their attendance consequences; either positive or on the contrary.
“That is the first reality. The second reality is on a grey line. It is the Spiritual reality about the truth of certain Spiritual dogma. That if one believes that God is real and accept that He is real; that in Him there is no variable, that He is genuine, and not merely an imagined or conjured.
“So if one walks on this reality of God, if one strictly obeys and applies the Divine principle on any issue, there would be a manifestation of the intended outcome; either positive or on the contrary.
“That in both instances, the outcome is real if rational reasoning would accept the outcome—that is real.”
“That was your exposition of reality, sir. And that these two extremes of realities, you said, are constantly in conflict.” I concluded.
We were silent for a while. I could see that he was thinking of something else to say but before I could prompt him, he continued. “Why did you come to this camp?”
“I am not so sure why I came here,” I said factually. “I think I found the city becoming too crowded, and I felt the need to have a serene environment where I can readjust my life meter so I will not overcharge myself.”
“But why did you take the choice of a fishing camp?”
“Sir, I think that was obvious,” I said, standing up.
He also got to his feet, and we walked toward the other end of the jetty. I could just feel myself absorbing into this place. The quietness of the camp with all the fishermen out to sea, I could just sit around sinking into my books, feeling the serenity of the place.
Looking behind, I saw the little thatch huts nestled into the end of the mangrove swamp, a little plume of smoke coming out from their roof, the smell of drying fish in the atmosphere; I almost feel like the fisherman.
“When they are back from the sea, then you will see the hustling and bustling of this place,” I told him.
We were both looking at the camp. “You will then see the women cooking and the men breaking their firewood to make a fire to dry their fish. It is just like one big fishing departmental factory,” I added with a smile.
He was looking at me as I continued talking, throwing my hand about widely.
“My best moment is when everybody has gone out fishing. I would just sit around this jetty, watching the flow of the water and the rolling of waves as the wind blows in from the sea.
“And those canoes with their occupants, as if in defiance of the sea, struggling against the current, pushing their canoes from one point to the other.”
“But this place has always not been like this,” he said, drawing me back into the present.
“I know,” I agreed turning to face him, as we walked up the rest of the jetty to the end and sat down at the edge, resting my back on the railing. He also sat down beside me waiting for me to continue.
“I have lived in this camp with my parents since I could remember things. Then, this beach line was almost here,” I said, pointing to the end of the jetty where we were sitting.
“And as far back as I could remember, the waves and the current have combined to wash away the shoreline, and our huts, into the bowel of the sea. We have also moved up higher; pushing the mangrove swamp back to make room for our new huts.” I could see in my mind, the beach we use to play around naked when we were kids.
Crude oil was just discovered in the Niger and the oil exploring company led by Shell BP were coming over here with their Houseboats and drilling equipment and taking photos of us playing naked along the shore.
I smiled at the recollection. I looked at him and I caught a glimpsed a shadow passed over his face. Just briefly, but I caught, a sign of weariness. His voice carries none of the weariness if he has any.
“Your childhood days did not last forever,” he said, leaning against the railings.
“Yes,” I agreed. I could see the image of my parents hurrying us away to pack our things into our canoes on one particular day. We are going to the village; there is war in the country and it was coming rapidly to this part.
“You know there was a bitter civil war fought from the mid-sixties,” I said.
“I knew what happened in your country. I knew the destruction and deaths that the war visited upon the people,” he explained.
“And we have to move away from this camp to the village. Since then, things were never the same any longer. I was just about seven years old at the outbreak of the war. The soldiers later came to this camp and burnt it down with all our belongings we could not take away at the time we fled.”
“How was life like in the village where you fled to?” he asked.
“There was no respite from the marauding soldiers anywhere. They were everywhere, and the grownups were always running into the bush every time they hear a flying boat engine,” I winced at the memory. “Life in the village was not also easy. We have to stop our schooling and were always moving from one village to another fishing camps.
“We were a family of seven, and I guess it was draining on our unavailable resources. Initially, though, I did not fully understand the reason for our moving from a place to another, but in retrospect, I think my father was struggling to maintain that large family.” I stopped and readjusted myself.
The water has ebbed away, showing the floor of the river where the jetty ends. It slopped deeply into the dark depth of the sea bed from that point. I can see fish – I think mullets–swimming about just under the surface of the water, occasionally flopping over and diving in all direction when they sensed a predator in the depth close to them.
As I looked up, I saw the old man looking away to the far southern end of the river where the mangrove trees drew a thick pattern as a well cultured flowering garden. There is another river coming out at that point to join the main artery which tapered off into the far end as it curves off to form another stretch.
I followed his gaze and noticed that the sun has gone under a very thick grey cloud casting a deep reddish appearance over the river in the western horizon. I looked up to the east, as if on cue, and saw the water blending off into the tall mangrove, curving into the left, going far away into the hinterlands.
From that end, I could notice the eastern horizon bearing the night as a sheet of dark velvet curtain, spreading over static earth.