I once alleged I would write on the fears of a man. I never did. The responses obtained were enough to ascertain the sensitivity of the subject. Nonetheless, it is a subject worth exploring and this endeavour is most profitable if done at a personal level. I need not add that at my 28th birthday, it is an apt enough time to do so.
I worry – where I should be-what should I be -when I should be-how should I be…Sometimes, I take a long hard look at myself and cry out, “ what a wretched being I am!”; a mere mortal, a blind worm writhing its way through the earth. Then other times, I envision myself journeying on the road less travelled. I look up yonder and see the rays of the morn sun peeping over the brow of the hill. Somehow, even though I may not see what lies beyond the hill, my feet keep going. The hope that tomorrow I will wake up a better man lingers in mine heart and this I would not let go. This, I cannot let go.
Ambition, a good thing it is but a dose too much and it becomes a burden; the kind that leads to fires in the stomach, otherwise known as ulcers- the ambitious man’s disease. “Great expectations make frustrated men”, I believe Achebe once quipped. I have my moments of frustration. My ambition then cannot be contained by my present circumstances. Somehow, I am led to believe that its time has not yet come. The most annoying thing is that it burns within me-a raging fire that consumes my very being. The most exquisite of foods looses taste and turns to gravel in mine mouth. Sleep eludes me like the Kenyan shilling. It is in these moments that I consider settling for less. At least then, I would save my body from ill-health and my mind from insanity. Then again, I walk into the future and hate what I have become. The thought of looking into my wife and children’s eyes, turn away and wish I was living a different life haunts me. Hence, with this hindsight, I choose to live with gravel in my mouth and sore eyes.
I often wonder what my task in this life is. I pick an autobiography and take a glimpse into the lives of men who once walked on this earth. Some I love. Some I loathe. Yet in all of them, I see a little bit of me; men unsatisfied with where they are in life; men craving for more endowments; men who seem to live in the future-their present times not worthy of them. Still a few of these men lay their heads on their pillows at night and know peace. Some have their lives ebb away from them, and still they know peace. Better still, very few, at their death beds are able to utter in unbridled conviction, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do” and these very few experience true peace- the kind that confounds the minds of men. I do not yet fully know my task in this life. I am not sure whether I will. However, along the narrow way I perceive what it is. Sometimes, it is impressed heavily on me that my mind inquires of nothing else. Sometimes they jump out of the pages of a book as they once did in Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.
“The mill which had worked them down was the mill that grinds young people old; the children had ancient faces and grave voices; and upon them, and upon the grown faces, and ploughed into every furrow of age, and coming up afresh was the sign, Hunger. It was prevalent everywhere. Hunger was pushed out of the tall houses, in the wretched clothing that hung upon poles and lines; Hunger was patched into them with straw and rag and wood and paper; Hunger was repeated in every fragment of the small modicum of firewood that the man sawed off; Hunger stared down from the smokeless chimneys, and started up from the filthy street that had no offal, among its refuse, of anything to eat. Hunger was the inscription on the baker’s shelves, written in every small loaf of his scanty stock of bad bread; at the sausage-shop, in every dead dog preparation that was offered for sale. Hunger rattled its dry bones among the roasting chestnuts in the turned cylinder; Hunger was shred into atomies in every farthing porringer of husky chips of potato, fried with some reluctant drops of oil.”
Indeed hunger is that old ogre that robs you off your dignity. God forbid that I sit and do nothing to severe its head from its body and hereafter, hear my Lord utter those dreadful words, “I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat.” God Forbid!
I am a bachelor. That means I have the pleasure of smelling armpits, rotting socks and rugged quarters as company. It also means I can freely break wind and not worry about being sued as some were threatened awhile back in good ‘ol Malawi. However, in due time, this deceptive liberty will be shown the door. My money won’t be mine alone and definitely my quarters too. I fear coming home with nothing to put on the table. I dread to see those inquisitive eyes of my daughter when she discovers daddy’s flaws. Or the look of disappointment in my son’s eyes when it dawns on him that his dad is not the hero he bragged to his friends about. Worst of all, I fear yielding in to the alluring advances of that beautiful lass and consequently, betray Lucy, the love of my life.
Talking about love, it is indeed is a beautiful thing-until it is wounded, then it becomes a source of most gruesome pain. I fear love. Is it any wonder that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned? However, as gallant as it may sound, it is not the love of a woman I fear most. It is God’s. Being the apple of His eye is a nice place to be…until you turn your back on Him. That is when the understanding of a loving God also being a jealous God really sinks in. There are some passages in the holy writ that make me shudder. Humour me if you will, and consider the following excerpts of Deuteronomy 28.
“However, if you do not obey the Lord your God…your carcasses will be food for all the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth…you will eat the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters the Lord your God has given you…the Lord will scatter you among the nations…there the Lord will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart. You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life. In the morning you will say, “if only it were evening!” and in the evening, “if only it were morning!” –because of the terror that will fill your hearts and the sights that your eyes will see.”
I have often caught myself thinking if I wasn’t an object of His love, then should I go wrong, I need not be an object of his jealousy. How utterly foolish! If His wrath towards those He loves are of such proportions then how about to those who have refused to receive His love, the kind He gives freely?
28 years on this earth, this have I learnt. Fear the most Him who loves you the most. Place your fears in His hand, for they are but specks of dust that He will blow away.