BURNING POT BY PRINCE CHARLES DICKSON, PH.D.
Abegi, where does Patience live in Nigeria?
It takes patience to listen... It takes skill to pretend that you are actually listening.
I am going to start this week's admonition with this lengthy story, but please bear with me, and let us read it together...
A NYC Taxi driver wrote:
I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be my last ride of my shift I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked.. ‘Just a minute’, answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.
After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90’s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940’s movie.
By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.
There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.
‘Would you carry my bag out to the car?’ she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.
She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.
She kept thanking me for my kindness. ‘It’s nothing’, I told her… ‘I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.’
‘Oh, you’re such a good boy, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, ‘Could you drive through downtown?’
‘It’s not the shortest way,’ I answered quickly.
‘Oh, I don’t mind,’ she said. ‘I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.
I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. ‘I don’t have any family left,’ she continued in a soft voice...’ The doctor says I don’t have very long.’ I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.
‘What route would you like me to take?’ I asked.
For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.
We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.
Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.
As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, ‘I’m tired. Let’s go now’.
We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.
Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move.
They must have been expecting her.
I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.
‘How much do I owe you?’ She asked, reaching into her purse.
‘Nothing,’ I said
‘You have to make a living,’ she answered.
‘There are other passengers,’ I responded.
Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.
‘You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,’ she said. ‘Thank you.’
I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light... Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life…
I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?
On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life.
We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.
But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.
In the last few weeks, things in Nigeria has gotten so bad, one wonders if it can get worse. From those blaming the past administration, to those that believe that there is a cleaning up and that things would get better.
Put in perspective, at a supposedly World Press Conference Nobel laureate and sage Wole Soyinka despite all promptings simply refused to talk about the situation in Nigeria.
Former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, on his latest visit to the Villa, appealed to Nigerians to support the President Muhammadu Buhari administration in resolving the nation’s problems. He stressed the need to urgently tackle the socio-economic challenges besetting Nigeria.
His plea came barely 48 hours after another former leader, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, lamented the resurgence of ethnic-based violence nationwide, noting that at no other time since the end of the civil war had the country experienced threats of disintegration as now.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at a meeting of governors and leaders of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ibadan urged Nigerians to be patient with government, Osinbajo said: “As you all know, the darkest part of the night is the period before dawn. Nigeria’s dawn is about to break; we are determined to turn things around. We seek your continued trust and ask you all to join hands with the government as we tackle and surmount the challenges ahead.
“Change is not easy, but we are not relenting until we achieve better life for all Nigerians. The change that we advocate will be irrevocable when we are finally done,” he said.
Osinbajo, represented by the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, said the administration has been working hard to remedy the rot and malaise that pervaded the nation, while pointing out that the current pains and sufferings was the result of past mismanagement.
He stated that although things appear difficult at the moment, it would not be long before Nigerians start deriving the full benefits of the current policies of government, designed to improve the prevailing economic situation.
When it's only Tuesday and you've already run out on patience for the week. The Nigerian leadership should know that they cannot continually ask the citizenry to tighten their belts while their tommy grow out of proportion. They need to beware the the patience which government through governments continue to ask for may eventually lead to a revolt when citizenry is down with a sober reflective thought process.
In mimicking Fela's words...these uprising will bring out the beast in us, this patience that only our leaders have its terminal date may lead us to the very edge if we don't change gears and quickly too. Patience is a virtue like the woman in my story, but between that virtue, let us remember that the early bird gets the worm, while the second mouse gets the cheese, the patience, for how long--only time will tell.