Memory is our past, present and future. It is a record of personal experience. It is a record of trial and error, defeat and success, pain and joy. It is something you remember. The Spanish born filmmaker, Luis Bunuel once wrote: “Our memory is our coherence. Lose your memory and lose a basic connection with who you are”. As a journalist, a purveyor of information and impartial narrator, I have always been fascinated to write about people, old or young, man or woman, boy or girl, rich or poor, powerful or powerless. It is a passion. But I have had a natural abhorrence to write about myself. Please, do not let it surprise you that I am fascinated for the first time to write about myself. This should however not be seen as a sketch of my real personal life. What therefore accounts for this seeming “FLASHBULB MEMORY” as notable psychologists, Roger Brown and James Kulik would have called it? I am holding the pen to write about myself as an act of indulgence in reminiscence over a memorable event and a sad past experience in my life. A renowned writer, Henry Beecher once wrote: “the pen is the tongue, the silent-utterer of words for the eyes”. The event I am writing about is a happy one. But the past experience was an agonizing but happy ending tale.
Saturday, April 11, 2020 was my birthday. But no celebration. No sane person will be popping champagne in this trying moment when our shared humanity is under the threat of a ravaging pandemic. The buzz and cacophony of voices all over the world are silent for now. Infections from the pernicious COVID 19 is on the rise every passing day. Coronavirus death toll, of people being pensioned off to meet their maker suddenly and unceremoniously, is unpleasing to the ears. Notwithstanding the challenging moment, birthday remains a special day of joy. It is a day you wake up with a flash of excitement in your eyes. You bask in the euphoria of aging gracefully. I am a happy person, I have already passed the average life span of forty- five years in Nigeria several years back. I have aged gracefully to a stage which confers maturity, a virtue which comes with wisdom which guarantees beneficial effects to mankind in terms of leadership and conflict management. I am glowing with smiles because I have so far lived an action packed life as a lowly paid clerk with CFAO and Vicinanza Construction Limited Kano, trade unionist and administrator with Nigeria Union of Journalists NUJ and Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC as well as a professional journalist for over four uninterrupted decades with Nigerian Herald, Radio Nigeria [FRCN], THE PUNCH, VANGUARD, Media Adviser to the late Kano state Governor Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar Rimi and DAAR communications PLC, owners and operators of RayPower FM and African Independent Television AIT.
I am grateful to God for several years of ceaseless breathing. I am certain God will grant me more years to institutionalize my life ambition of service to humanity as a journalist. I woke up on my birthday last Saturday with a deep feeling to refresh my memory of the events of two decades ago. It was the early hours of my birthday, 2Am Nigerian time to be precise. In the year 2000, I suddenly woke up and started vomiting blood. That was the only thing I could remember that day. I was rushed to National Hospital, Abuja in a terrible state. I regained consciousness after three days. I remained in the hospital for six months and five days. I had five painful, fearful and life threatening surgical operations. As I remember my painful experience twenty years after, I see flying before my eyes, the agonizing images of unpleasant emotions and anxiety, the red and puffy face arising from crying, the deep and sharp surgical wounds, the night-marish experience of passing stool and urine through tube for three and half months, the troubling weight loss, the moment of loneliness and the horrible experience of surviving on fluid alone for nearly two months. In the mind of many people the source of my illness seemed well fixed. It was traceable to an affliction. The nature of the affliction was however shrouded in mystery. But the team of nearly nine doctors including two consultants deployed to handle my case had a different view.
There was a strong consensus, after tests in Nigeria and South Africa, that some individuals must have poisoned either my drink or meal. The unpleasant consequence of this was that it did not only trigger complications but adversely affected my intestines. That was not all. It equally destroyed some of my internal flesh which led to tissue mass that has to be evacuated, the size and weight was equivalent to that of a new born baby. My luck however was that the mass was benign, [not cancerous], after medical investigations by pathologists in Nigeria and South Africa. But the findings of the Doctors were where their certainty ended. The intention and identities of the adversaries remain unknown. The outcome of the medical laboratory test changed the initial thinking of many people. The expression and exclamations that issued out from them on the intolerable act of poisoning someone vary. While some viewed it as a wicked act, some described it as an untenable and condemnable.
No doubt poisoning someone is an offensive and injurious act. It is equally an act harmful not only to the victim but to humanity. It is an action or an instance that could provoke vengeance. It is a premeditated act of cowardice designed ostensibly to perpetrate wickedness. But who am I to seek revenge, even if I could establish the doers, when I should leave it to the Lord, the Creator, who asks us to cast all our burdens on Him. Today I am writing a good story on a bad experience that happened twenty years ago. The painful, horrible and sad experience has faded and I desire to replace it and have replaced it with wonderful things around me, a happy family as well as good friends and professional colleagues. Tears and trauma also dried up and replaced with joy and good health. Above all abundant blessings of God pouring in torrents. As I see it, the power to empty bad memories into the dustbin of history is a deadly blow to revenge and vengeance. Truth is that I never had a predilection or rather a proclivity for revenge that is why I am a happy and very fulfilled person. As I recalled this sad part of my life, I feel elated and march on joyfully. I was able to establish a very cheerful fact during my ordeal. I can look back and proclaim loudly that not all Nigerians are wicked, greedy and selfish. Many are fair minded, kind and caring. These shining examples assisted in cash and kind as well as prayers which aided my recovery process.
Bodunrin is a Journalist with AIT/RAYPOWER FM.