Wednesday 28 May 2014

Nigeria: Some Truths About The Bride Price App

Love abroad
A good friend of mine started a long-distance relationship between Europe and Africa where they for over a year communicated over the phone, via email and many other means professing love for each other.
I was wary, simply because my friend had spent more than half his life in Europe; fundamentally there was no cultural affinity between them apart from a geographical space. Outlooks had changed due to his integration into another culture, community and society, but who knows?
When it appeared things might not work out, I thought he had invested too much in that relationship that the least he could do was go and meet with the family of his love interest and make up his mind after that.
Checking in
We went shopping for gifts and all sorts of arrangements for an introduction and he travelled over to meet the family. When he met the father, they appreciated his interest, took the gifts without as much as a thank you and then gave his companion a printed wedding list that read like greed of the world in objects and payments that baffled the mind.
There was nothing I could do but seek the wisdom of my mother, she sounded a very cautionary tone, to the effect that there was nothing in that relationship than an opportunity to milk and bilk my friend, in the end he cut his losses and ran – the event was scripted in 6 blogs that I titled, “Opening the mouth of the Father.”
Breaking the bank
The wedding list had that one item that caught my eye amongst that many other ridiculous things that I distributed in a narrative of derision and incredulity. My friend at the wedding ceremony would only be able to get the father of the bride to speak by shelling out 50,000 Naira, whilst the whole list came to over half a million Naira and that did not include the cost of the wedding ceremony and the bride price.
The Bride Price App
Which brings me to the topic of the Bride Price, because yesterday I came upon a web-based application that claimed to calculate the Bride Price of a prospective wife based on a number of attributes, achievements, looks, diction and status of the lady.
When I first clicked through the application, I commented on Twitter that it spoke to the ridiculousness of the things we place value on.
However, as people discussed the issue, it got to a point where there was a broad spectrum from views from the misogynist, sexist and objectification of women through to risible levity maintaining no seriousness to it apart from jocularity and laughter.
A friend then engaged me in private conversation on Twitter about the Bride Price Calculator and then persuaded me to consider putting my thoughts in a blog. Which started as the following Direct Messages on Twitter.
My views
Asking about my views on the Bride Price App, he said, “I've seen it being misrepresented as sexist and objectifying women. Be honest, is this true?
I answered back as follows:
There are many angles to this, looking at it with Western eyes it is sexist and objectifying women, however, not in Nigerian eyes.
The point I am making here is the danger of conflating different cultures and then using an unrefined standard to assess another culture without first accepting there is an issue to be properly reviewed before making comparisons.
The fact is the bride price is an unscripted reality in Nigeria that borders on greed and the ridiculous.” As evinced by my introduction to this blog.
The Bride Price App simply put online what in many cases people think when giving away their daughters and the cultural construct that feeds into making those demands without second thoughts. To see the bride price so illustrated in almost an atrociously vulgar manner was upsetting but not divorced from Nigerian reality.
We must have an honest discussion as to how the cost of marriage harms the institution of marriage in the name of tradition.
The question is what really determines the bride price traditionally and how have things changed to accommodate not only modernity, but the need to keep up with the Joneses and attempt to outdo others?
However, many of these traditions have no cultural significance they are new fads of hedonism and ostentation.
This feeds into the previous comment, we have to ask whether paying up for the bride and the wedding is of greater significance or giving the newly married a firmer foundation on which to build their marriage
The Bride Price App is a mirror on ridiculous female statuses we use to place value on women is as marketplace objects bought for marriage.
If we are to be honest with ourselves, a number of the options in that App have informed how the bride price is determined and what kind of wedding is planned for.
Unintended consequences
The dilemma of the bride price is summed up in Part 2 of Opening the mouth of the father, “It appeared I was to be sold a woman for a slave rather than being given a lady for a bride.
The unintended consequence of a high bride price makes the pain of cost dampen the required utility of love in a marriage, a certain threshold can be breached where cost begins to determine ownership when love should mature partnership – I would not even delve into what might result from the former.
Critically, we must have an open honest discussion on the issue of the bride price, the wedding and most importantly the marriage, the first two are easy, usually a question of means; marriage requires work, patience, love, perseverance and with it would come joy, pain, happiness, sadness, togetherness, distance and whilst many would be at the wedding, only two can really be in a marriage.
You make it work or make it fail, hopefully not because of the cost of the bride price or the ostentation of the wedding, if you want the marriage, you probably can make it work against all odds. The Queen celebrated her diamond wedding anniversary on the 20th of November 2007.

Sunday 25 May 2014

Picnic Thought: I stand forever blessed

When great adversity strikes
My son asked me if I missed work and I replied that I missed the respect.” Jo Harris [Story]
These were the words of a judge who lost her voice to motor neurone disease, first found ways to cope through technology and sadly lost her life to the disease.
I heard her story on BBC Radio 4 and decided to search for information about her because there is something about the stories of people whose lives have been changed so radically by debilitating disease that more than basic adjustments need to made, that resonates with me.
Times of my life
In certain times I remember that my life now has a timeframe, BC and AC, Before Cancer and After Cancer, the man I was before illness and the man I became after the illness came and the radical way it changed my life.
As I have written in many blogs before, as I lost my health, I lost position, status, possession, things and in some ways respect.
Much as I have had a semblance of stoicism and maintained a sense of dignity, I might have even been an object of sympathy towards pity, even to a point of ridicule bordering on reproach, yet like a child rebuked, I could not talk, and like a rascal disciplined, I could not fight back.
Standing misunderstood
Buffeted on many sides by adversity and perversity, I stood, maybe cried, but was never bowed, the spirit in said said, the indignities to the point of gross disrespect from rejections on the flimsiest excuses at interviews to having no place to lay my head for the night, but for the grace of God and the amazing kindness and humanity of many, it shall all pass.
There was a distinction in the prayers my father and my mother prayed when I called to chat to them. She almost swore me to secrecy that the happenings in my life would not be shared with him, but whatever animus they had between themselves I have striven not to allow affect the relationship with my parents.
She prayed for recovery, he prayed for restoration, the prayers are being answered, the speed varying from miraculous to meandering, as a story of life unfolds in the experiences that have defined the existence I have lived, survived and thrived in.
No guilt would hold sway
I lost much, missed much but regretted little as I told my clinical psychologist when she finally accepted my case on being persuaded that I needed someone to chat to because I did not exhibit any of the classic psychological or mental illness issues that I should have presented considering my circumstances, I could not live in regret when there were many blessings to count, little and large.
Maybe fundamentally I refused to condemn myself in the things I allowed whilst the process of handling guilt is still a process, if I cry over how much I have beat up myself, eventually I must get to a point where this vicious circle of the inflicting pain in the hope that some gain would arrive in recognition of my many stupidities has lost its power to assuage my iniquities must stop.
I stand blessed
That is what has won through, despite the external battles that seemed to have the upper hand presaging defeat, internally in my spirit and in my mind, I decided, I would not be overcome or overrun, and I would rise like a phoenix from the ashes of a life and a lifestyle destroyed by illness because that is the core essence of our God-given humanity.
Yes, I missed the respect, sometimes the honour, but I remained respectful, honourable, presentable, optimistic, striving, bettering, working, expecting, trying and most of all living. In the process change has come with renewal, ability, opportunity, recognition, some respect, some acknowledgement and some honour.
I am blessed and with that every other care simply fades into insignificance.

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Thought Picnic: A person I know

A foible I perceive
I try to contain my obsession and pedantry, sometimes with limited success. There is something about disorder that leaves me discomfited.
That is not to say that I am the neatest person around, yet, I do love neatness, arrangements or just patterns.
It probably started with numbers; codes, phone numbers, things like that. I always seem to find some relationship between the numbers that aids in recalling the number rarely as an ordered list, but more as how the relationships between the numbers allow for that order of numbers to exist.
An error I notice
Besides this, I tend to know when things seem to be out of place, a word spelt wrong, a portrait hung badly, contexts lost and much else. Somehow, that does not seem to apply to the first draft of my blogs until I go back to read them after publication.
This morning, I was literally driven to distraction when I noticed that the time on the clock for Madrid was the same as for Manchester – that ought not to be so, Madrid is an hour ahead.
Unfortunately, I could not get to speak to the office manager to correct the error, nothing is as upsetting as to keep the wrong time, I could be so put out by that.
A pattern I deduce
Maybe where the obsession gets the better of me was where the carpets in the hallway and stairwell of my apartment block were changed recently.
Someone chose to order a patterned carpet; rectangles of different sizes and with that came the need, my need, to determine the repeated frame of patterns on the carpet.
I knew eventually I was going to find out because I needed to know what order informed the design. When I did, it was strange to realise that the carpet had a repetitive pattern that took in 10 rectangles lengthwise and 8 rectangles breadthwise before the pattern was repeated.
What a sense of satisfaction I had on discovering that, it meant I did not have to be obsessed with the patterns on the carpet and I could still easily scope out the pattern of repetition.
An obsession I accept
It is probably a form of low spectrum autism that leaves me a bit vulnerable to supposing things are wrong when they are right just because what I expect to see is not what I have observed.
Over time, I have tried to moderate this doggedness to accommodate possibilities I have not yet assessed or discovered. It has also meant that in some situations, even when I am right I have held my counsel just to be sure that I have seen all angles to that situation before offering an opinion.
Whilst I have been called a perfectionist by some, I doubt I am anywhere near that, I’ll just say that sometimes I am compelled to be particular, and when I look at things from that perspective, I am probably alright. Yet, there is still much to learn and I am all eyes and ears for that too.

Sunday 18 May 2014

Opinion: Decriminalise Apostasy and Blasphemy Yesterday

Let the gods fight
There is a story in the Bible of Gideon who in an act of zealotry destroyed the altar of Baal. The worshippers found out and gathered a mob to lynch him when someone reasoned with them that if Baal was so aggrieved by the desecration of his grotto and altar, then Baal, the god the people worshipped should himself exact judgement on Gideon, the miscreant.
The reasonable message there was, despite the grievance and offence caused the worshippers, “If he [Baal] is a god, let him contend for himself, because someone has torn down his altar.” [Reference and context][Judges 6:25-32 – The Message]
More pertinently, the argument put forth is on many levels, first of all, men are prone to zealotry, sometimes taking extreme and provocative actions. People would be seriously offended and seek to take the law into their own hands by meting out some form of punishment to assuage their grievance.
Disarming our great gods
In so doing, they appear to disarm or belittle the ability of the deity to act for itself where the deity has been contemned. The question is, are men supposed to plead the case of their gods or are they supposed to allow the gods in whatever their omnipotent or omniscient capacity to seek retribution for any disrespect or desecration by any man?
Are you going to fight Baal’s battles for him? Are you going to save him? Anyone who takes Baal’s side will be dead by morning. If Baal is a god in fact, let him fight his own battles and defend his own altar.” [Judges 6:31 – The Message]
I dare say, this should extend to all deities be it in established religions or any form of religious symbolism or act of worship. Much as each man should not seek to cause religious offence to others, it is important for the religious to let the gods fight their battles for the conscience, the soul or punish infractions of men.
No compulsion
There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.” [Surah Al-Baqarah 2:256][Context]
The Al-Qurʾān is unequivocal about the issue of religion in this verse, there should be no imposition and it is a matter of choice. Yet, if people do cross the line (Taghut), this could mean many things from disbelief, through blasphemy to apostasy, the judgement for that is left with Allah rather than with men.
The other verses that support this quote clearly state that the choice is that of the man and the reward or punishment is of Allah.
Usurping the role of deity
It then begs the question why men have arrogated to themselves the duty to judge and pronounce judgements in place of their deities to punish men for their actions taking away the greater prerogative of mercy and longsuffering of deity in whom they believe?
Do men expect to be rewarded for taking the law into their own hands fighting for their gods where all do not believe the same nor are all of the same consciences even if they seem to follow the same religion?
What is the justification for exacting judgement on another man for what they choose to believe or not believe as they are persuaded of message, experience or life and where does this stop or who then controls this vigilantism?
The next question is why the state should ever get involved in these matters as if they now act in the stead of deity to criminalise people and exact judgement on behalf of God?
I covered the issue in the blog below.
Separating religion and state
It goes without saying that the state has no business promulgating laws that criminalise religious thought, be that disbelief, blasphemy or apostasy. The state however may sanction offence caused other by refereeing civil cases brought by the offended; not to abridge the freedom of speech and expression but to ensure that the use of such freedoms is not abused to incite violence or cause unrest amongst the people.
It is in view of the arguments that I have proffered above that I call on the 21 countries that criminalise apostasy and the many others that criminalise blasphemy to abrogate and expunge such laws from their statute books.
The state’s involvement in these matters first politicises religion which can be used to nefarious ends like the Muslim cleric who allegedly framed a Christian girl in Pakistan putting her at the risk of capital punishment and yet he was acquitted probably because the witnesses against him were nobbled.
There is also the risk of vigilantism as seen here and here, worse still is when it is used to oppress those of a different religion. What religion a person follows should always be an adult choice, it should never appear to have congenital provenance.
Personal choice above all else
If a person cannot make an independent choice of what to believe because of their heritage or what their parents believed in the 21st Century, then we have moved the age of conscience back to before the Dark Ages where the powerful acted like demigods with impunity, answerable to no one but the whim of how much power they can wield.
The world is certainly more advanced than this, and more and more, blasphemy and apostasy laws are looking like a homage to Barbarity than a celebration of the freedom and the liberty of thought, the coming of the civilised man. Abrogate these odious laws without delay.
Other references

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Requirements of requirements

Finding the requirements
Any situation requires that we appreciate what the requirements are and so we asked for the requirements. As we discussed what the requirements might be, we ended up with someone else creating requirements that did not look like the requirements we thought the requirements should be.
The requirements are simple. We simply require the requirements that are required. Without such requirements it becomes almost impossible to determine those that are required without initial exposure to such requirements. I require the requirements that are required in order to fully appreciate the requirements.
[Paragraph from comment by Gareth Terry on Facebook.]
However, because no requirements were forthcoming, we defaulted to a set of requirements that were the requirements of a different list of requirements detailed in the requirements of another entity.
There we were, completely exasperated, how hard could knowing your requirements be?
Using any requirements
That became the requirements from where hopefully after testing they would eventually see if their requirements are met or they can be forced to clearly state what their requirements are and by so doing, we would have the requirements we should have had in the first place.
As we progressed, we began to see unforeseen requirements, the requirements that extended the narrow scope of requirements they assumed were fulfilled, but now glaringly were never considered requirements that anyone would immediately appreciate are the fundamental requirements of any set of requirements.
Maybe these requirements
Requirements are an active and determined set of requirements because requirements cannot be divined as chances or the preponderance of luck, though we would be lucky if at the end of the day, any of the requirements where we cannot see the clear usage that demands those requirements would result in requirements that meet the requirements that are the best requirements for the requirements of the situation.
Nonetheless, the requirements would be organic and through trial, testing, iteration and review, we would have some requirements and they might well be good enough.
New requirements just released. We are to first produce a time machine, talk about changing the goal posts.
[Paragraph from comment by Gareth Terry on Facebook.]

Monday 12 May 2014

Thought Picnic: You Only Die Once

Knowing my mortality
I came close to appreciating my mortality when just under 5 years ago, on being diagnosed with a form of skin cancer, I was advised that the possible outcomes were anything between 5 weeks at worst and survival.
I am still here, but careful to keep a close eye on my health and possibilities I have for living much longer than I could have envisaged.
One fact I am always aware of is my vulnerability, and though I do as much to live as someone living rather than someone who is dying, the questions of life and death persist.
Planning for that end
I have lost friends, cousins and uncles, too many gone long before their time due to all sorts of circumstances that leaves one both saddened and fortunate to still be here.
There is a need to plan for that eventuality, probably write a will, decide where one wants to be buried and make the adequate arrangements before time, and prepare people for it by making that final welfare a celebration rather than a sorrowful passing.
I would love to do some things before I go though, the earth is a beautiful place, much of which I would still love to see. I dream and I hope, then get to live those amazing dreams one way or the other, there is no doubt that I have been blessed.
Where to rest in peace
Last year, I spent a week in Walsall where I was born and there was some unfinished business about that visit. I wanted to go to the Anglican Church there and find out about what it takes to get a place to be buried. It is far from my ancestral home but it is the place where I came into this world and I have a strong connection with that idea.
Death is nothing to be afraid of, whilst life is something to be enjoyed to the full. You only die once and this is something I have decided to think about on the 5th Dying Matters Awareness Week.

Saturday 10 May 2014

#BringBackOurGirls in Manchester - Rally for the #ChibokGirls

Online and offline
As we have kept our voices heard on Social Media, most especially on Twitter, we gathered this afternoon at the Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester to show our support for the #ChibokGirls.
Some people we engage with in Twitter would say not much happens for effective action on Twitter, but I can say that for the almost 100 people that made up the multinational crowd I saw today, none as far as I know were remotely connected to me on any Social Media platform that I use, yet we were there for one purpose.
We were united as Nigerians and citizens of the world, affected by a distant and remote event that could easily have been a sister, a daughter, a grandaughter, a niece, an aunt, a ward, a neighbour, a classmate or just another person, a participant in our common humanity who needs to be freed from that atrocities of terrorism by Boko Haram and the dereliction of duty by the government.
For every gathering of Nigerians and quite a few spoke, you could at least from my perspective expect the nostalgic sound of the Nigerian accent speaking English, then a moment of prayer and at 14:30, we all held hands in silence for 276 seconds, a second for each of the abducted #ChibokGirls.
Thank you
Then more speeches of exhortation, encouragement, politics and everything else that makes the atmosphere uniquely Nigerian.
We were resolved to keep the movement going, we need all those responsible and those with the responsibility to do, to #BringBackOurGirls.
That is the least we expect of our government and those who have the responsibility to keep our children safe.
Thank you to all who joined us in this moment of sadness and tragedy, it means a lot to all of us.

Thursday 8 May 2014

Thought Picnic: Would our humanity rise to make a useful difference?

Our calling
What seems to be missing in the story of our humanity is the inability to identify. People who are too preoccupied with themselves, their views, their position or their beliefs to be affected by experiences of others no matter how moving.
There are many events and issues going on in the world around us, some begging for us to acknowledge, recognise, appreciate and understand.
People who for situation, circumstance or experience have no voice either because they have been silenced or because they do not know who to cry out to, and there are many around us.
Our seeing
These are things that we can either be wilfully blind to or actively seeking to understand, sympathise and empathise.
Where we move out of our comfort zones and the padded lifestyles that seem to isolate us from harm and the gruesome reality of others to engage fully in providing support and succour to those around us.
We must not forget how ephemeral life is, how fortunes change and how whatever happens to us in life it is imperative that we do not lose touch with reality and the reality of others.
Our mortality
Everything is for a season, for those who have power or are in proximity to power, kings come and kings go, thrones endure for a while and kingdoms can be overturned in the passage of time to form new hierarchies.
Be aware of your humanity and your responsiveness to others, use power fairly, judiciously, proportionately and responsibly. For in the end, history is judge, a severe one at that, the memories of ills done in commission or indifference in omission are carved into enduring rocks of time as a salutary lesson to all.
Our legacy
However, when real good is done to celebrate our greater humanity, it would be for a memorial from generation to generation and the doers of such would have transcended from being mere men and politicians to great statesmen to identify with.
A legacy beckons, the masonry has already begun on the rocks of eternal scrutiny, for some #BringBackOurGirls might just determine the kind of people we are, those who have a heart of flesh or those who have a heart of stone.

Monday 5 May 2014

Never underestimate the benefits of good sleep

Sleeping off the pain
So I went to bed a bit unwell hoping to get some rest and relief from the pain. There is something about the healing power of sleep or maybe it is the calming effect of sleep.
Now, I rarely have long stretches of sleep, usually never more than 4 hours at best, but as much as possible it is restful and relaxing. It is one reason why I do not like my sleep disturbed since I am rarely one to be stirred from sleep to roll over and fall asleep again.
However, just like when I had to manage the pain of cancer, when I was tired enough, I just fell asleep and with that, my thoughts and consciousness are taken off concentrating on the pain exacerbating its effect, likewise with my eyeball hurting, I wrapped up and found two hours of restful and literally dreamless sleep.
Restored and refreshed
When I woke up, apart from feeling a bit hungry, the pain had gone and it was way past the time to take my pills too. Some immediate concerns trumped the regimen of pill-popping.
As for the healing power of sleep, I woke a lot better and quite ready to sleep off again, probably because I put my mind to it. Another 90 minutes past before I got up and had some coleslaw for a bit of strength before doing a bit of work and resting until dawn broke.
I am a lot better now, not nauseous, some bearable discomfort, but I’ll be fine. Thanks for all the best wishes.
Never underestimate the benefits of good sleep.

Battling with my vulnerabilities to pain

The eye of pain
Quietly, I have been going about things as if it did not matter. I’ve been in pain for the past few hours, my right eyeball giving me such discomfort and I am no wiser as to why.
I have placed a cold pad over it to ease the pain and I would have taken painkillers if I was not already feeling so nauseous.
I cannot attribute anything to this uncomfortably ill-feeling, though it does feel like I am coming down with something I do not want to yield to.
No glory in emesis
Thrice, I have been bent over the toilet bowl ready for emesis, salivating a lot the first two times and then finally evacuating my guts the third time.
The horrid feeling is if you are vomiting on an empty stomach, you convulse and retch, groan and contort without much to show for it. Nasty does not describe the feeling.
When the retching stopped, I poured a bowl of cold water over my head and appeared to calm down. The eyeball pain is still there, but I probably should just take a rest.
Have me in your thoughts. Good night!

Friday 2 May 2014

Opinion: The Very Ugly Fall of Constance Briscoe

An ugly fall
It gives me no pleasure to write about Constance Briscoe today who from her position of influence and personal allegiance has become of casualty of a dispute that has taken too many people to gaol.
Just over 5 years ago, I wrote about her when her mother took her to court for libel, because in a book she published titled Ugly, she wrote of presumed abuse and cruelty she suffered at the hands of her mother.
A vengeful plot
What makes Constance Briscoe’s case one of great personal tragedy was she had become an establishment figure and by that would have been a great role model to have been one of the first black female recorders when she was appointed in 1996.
However, she got entangled in the acrimonious divorce of Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce, the latter who in the quest to make her ex-husband pay for his infidelity, got ensnared, and in the process suffered basically a similar fate as her husband, they both went to jail.
Constance Briscoe as a part-time judge should have known better, but as a friend of Vicky Pryce joined in the scorned fury of a deserted wife attempting to pervert the course of justice, providing false statements and much else to take Chris Huhne down.
Positional hubris
Obviously, Constance Briscoe must have thought her elevated position would isolate her from suspicion of impropriety and abuse, but the story reads like a Greek tragedy and possibly a telling tale of consequence in relation to what retribution might obtain from making a public show of our parents.
She would be going to jail for twice the time the person she helped, that's Vicky Pryce, went to jail for. For all the brilliance and ability of Constance Briscoe until she entered into that vengeful pact with Vicky Pryce, there is probably a character flaw in both women that they exploited to the full, and with it came shame and disgrace.
A salutary lesson
No one ends up the better for pursuing a vendetta, neither is there real satisfaction in seeking revenge. All participants get hurt and when that is looked at in the bigger story of life and some memories we bring to the fore that could possibly falsely accuse our parents of abuses they never committed – what comes around does eventually go around.
Apparently, the libel case brought on by the mother is still in court and because of this conviction, every other area where the integrity and honour of Constance Briscoe mattered, is now put to question, including the claims that she was abused by her mother.
It is a tragedy, a great one at that, and I am so sorry for all that have suffered, just because some people could not walk away from their irreconcilable differences without seeking to ruin others first.
Other material

Thursday 1 May 2014

Thought Picnic: Meaning to live through it

An unspoken celebration
Though it was never mentioned, it was very much like an unannounced celebration of 30 years of friendship. The time had come again to feed the vampires and it was just 4 vials of life’s nectar for the labs.
The journey was easy but getting connected was fraught that it was almost impossible to communicate.
There were times my phone took the countryside for a different land and it went roaming to places nondescript and unknown, one was close to frustration but kept calm.
A forlorn drip
Then met my dear friend of 30 years before we made for the hospital, booked in and this time I was conscious enough to offer my left arm rather than confuse which arm I wanted punctured.
In just ahead of me lay a man on a bed attached to intravenous medication, blinking constantly his eyes slowly rolling from side to side probably in deep thought thinking about how and why he was where he was.
Chemotherapy is a very lonely business, I know. If you do not find ways to occupy yourself with company, companionship, reading or slumber, your mind drifts away to places of fortune, misfortune and sometimes regret.
I wanted to smile at him, as he looked it did not seem to be observing anything, just a soul in the battle to survive helpless against the onslaught that might incapacitate him for the next 72 hours – that is chemo at its worst.
We are alive to life
We all return to the hospital periodically for these checks; vulnerable, yet resolved; weak in the body, yet strong in the mind, bearing the sentence of death coursing through our veins or strangling some part of our flesh, yet unbowed, hopeful and exercising the amazing wonder of the will to live against all odds.
We have become the guinea pigs of medical enquiry and the miracles of modern medicine, each day we live, a blessing and the greatest fortune because we know many who succumb to much less than we have borne in our bodies, lives and experiences.
And afterwards
The testimony is, we have a second chance, maybe even a third chance and to have a friend beside you in those times is like goodness, mercy, love and care together, a thing to be grateful for, gladdening the heart and one for which I would be forever thankful.
The day continues, busy, demanding, interesting and infuriating, but that is what life is all about, the problem, the challenge, the process and the solutions.
When next I have chicken, I might also have corn on the cob, there is no telling, the chicken might have never been corn-fed, that, is the stuff of friendship too.