“Death is a necessary end, it will come when it will come” – Shakespeare
My impromptu trip to Nigeria was an experience that will continue to linger in my mind. The news of my mom in comatose made me very unsettled and agitated. This odd world is unpredictable as my conversation with her prior to this unfortunate incident was historic. In our last conversation, my mom prayed fervently for me and my family. The news of her sickness got to me with rude and shocking disbelief. There and then, I decided I must go to Nigeria to see my beautiful and loving mom. I bought my flight ticket and was longing to embark on a journey that would unpredictably define myself and change my perspective of this odd world for life.
My mom was my role model, very versatile woman with indefatigable strong mind, she definitely taught us the moral and the love of humanity. In retrospect, the popular period of alleged killer beans during Buba Marwa’s administration in Lagos, Nigeria, she selflessly instructed us not to eat beans being cooked anytime at that time until she tasted it, noting that she would rather died for any of us and her grandchildren than to see us died. Her altruistic persona showed her unconditional love for us and humanity.
The night prior to my journey was traumatic. I couldn’t fathom how I survived that night. My mind was completely corded with my mom, imagining what she must have been going through in her precarious state of health. Throughout her ordeals and my trip, I constantly with uneasiness and passion shared her pains and ailing situation.
In the morning of my trip, I came out of the bathroom dizzy and unconsciously landed on the floor, my wife was terrified and became confused about my state of mind and health to travel. I insisted I must travel to see my mom unaware that my health was going to suffer unimagined consequences.
As I bid my family and in-laws farewell at the departure of Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix Arizona, I started feeling uncomfortably dizzy with a dreadful stormy mind. I checked through the TSA and managed to get to my flight location. My three and half hour-flight from Phoenix to Atlanta was hellish. My eyes were rolling like soccer ball, then the more I tried to endure and struggle to stabilize myself, the more it became unbearable and discomforting. I quickly rushed to the restroom of our flight and threw up. My co-passengers were very good individuals who cared for me, particularly a white beautiful lady who I believe was a medical personnel. She recommended for me dramamine, a relief medication for nausea and dizziness. In a jiffy, paramedics were on sight and took my vitals. Because everything was normal, they asked if I needed to go to the hospital but I declined. I was very much determined to see my mom. I was wheel-chaired out of the aircraft to where I was to board my connecting flight to Nigeria. Suddenly, the good samaritan white lady appeared from the firmament and gave me the Dramamine tablets and also instructed me on how to administer it. The 5-hour waiting period for my flight to Nigeria gave me a leverage to recuperate and get stabilized.
My 12-hour flight to Nigeria was particularly comforting and soothing as I prayed throughout the flight, ruminated, reeled and reassured myself that my mom was going to be ok. We touched down at Muritala Muhammed Airport in Lagos and to my trepidation and sadness, the disgusting state of our supposed international airport, the mirror and the port of entry of our dear country is nauseating and shameful. I had earlier instructed my law enforcement agent colleagues here in the United States of my avowed trip to Nigeria in case of any eventuality with some corrupt government officials of Nigeria. I was, with determined stance not ready to let off a dime as bribe from my wallet. I was miffed, and battle-ready for this disgraceful usual “rituals” of corrupt officials at the airport. Thanks to my friend who works at the the airport already awaiting my arrival and helped me to clear my luggage.
Meanwhile, the admixture of joy and discomfort to see my friends and my mom in coma was very daunting on me. But I managed to give my friends big, passionate and unblemished hugs after a long time away from home. We came out of the airport and to my consternation, I could see general hopelessness and despondency on the face of everyone around. It was evident that the situation in the country is perplexing, and the general atmosphere around looked like the peace of the graveyard. Nigerian politicians are sociopaths with no modicum of shame in them. These thieves (politicians) and the owners (hapless citizens) are not enjoying the castrated country. Where I reside here in the States, as an officer, we escort criminals in full restraint to secure society but it is the other way round in Nigeria. Political office holders use state apparatus to pseudo-secure themselves and their good-for-nothing-families at the expense of the hapless masses. They forget that history is bunk, and that the only thing that is constant in life is change and that, the evil that men do lives after them.
My entire stay in Nigeria was very miserable, one, for my dying mom and two, for what every hapless and innocent Nigerian is going through in the country. Living in Nigeria is like dwelling in Hobessian state of nature where life is solitary, short, brutish and nasty. Electricity is epileptic and roads are death-traps. Security is nonexistent as Boko Haram and other insurgents are crippling president Goodluck Jonathan’s corrupt and inept government. Everyone looks with suspicion. Senator John McCain, a US senator from Arizona was unarguably right that the country has no responsible leadership. Nigeria is in dire need of Devine intervention and redemption. Graft and payola are very endemic everywhere, religious leaders are entrepreneurial ministers with unholy alliance with government to defraud unsuspecting followers. Everyone’s mind and instinct is warped and tailored towards what they can selfishly eke from the national cake.
Our journey to Ikorodu was a herculean one as the traffic was very chaotic and hellish. My mind was completely gazed at getting to see my mom. It took us more than two hours to get to the private hospital where she was admitted. I sauntered out of my friend’s car and entered the hospital and then with agitation, I introduced myself to the medical staff and was subsequently shown the room where she was being admitted. I shouted my mama’s name and told her I was around to take care of her. To the bewilderment of everyone around, she painfully struggled to open her eyes and mouth and called my name as “Yah….y” I assured her of her great and great grand children’s love and prayers for her and also read my wife and children’s letters to her ears in translated Yoruba language. I also prayed for her and she nodded in response to my prayers. Thanks to my niece, a medical doctor here in the US who instructed me to speak to her in real time as she could hear and be conscious of her surrounding only she could not talk. Throughout the night, I talked to her with reminiscence of her roles in our lives and to humanity; she was the one who taught me contentment and the definition of love and service to humanity. Her beautiful and awesome lifestyles will forever remain indelible and evergreen in my mind.
The following day, she was thinly stable and I went home to sleep with the assurance of the good and professional nurses taking care of her to keep constant watch and care. I couldn’t rest as my mind was glued and intertwined with her pains. In the night she was gasping for breath, I quickly called the attention of the nurses and the doctor. At this period, I could see her precarious and helpless situation. She was stabilized with some pain medications. In the evening, I corded with her, rubbed her body and prayed for her. I tried to lift her head up, her body temperature was getting cold as I was with naivety thought the coldness was as a result of the running ceiling fan. The
nurse requested that we step out for a while. Unfortunately and obliviously on my part, my mom took her last breath and she died in my hands. I stepped out as requested and was going home to observed special prayers for her all through the night to ease her pains. As I finished ablution and was trying to observe salat and prayers, we got a call to come to the hospital. The news of her death was announced as we entered the hospital and I quickly summoned courage and prayed over her lifeless body.
My mom was a fashionable and amiable woman who took cognizance of her food and what she wore seriously. She was very hardworking and ebulliently concerned about her family, the people and the less privileged in the society. My only consolation is that I was able to take good care of her before and sacrosanctly paid my last respect at her burial. I pray that almighty God rewards her with beautiful place in paradise. And for those of us that she left behind in this wilderness, I pray that God will give us the fortitude to bear her irreparable loss. “To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die”. My mom came; she saw and she played her part. Her indelible contributions to all shall live in our subconscious minds forever. I thank God for giving me the grace to meet my mom alive and also the grace to care for her until death. I also want to use this medium to thank my families and friends that stood by me during this difficult period.
Goodnight to Suliat Balogun, Iya Olori-ire. (A blessed woman) and Abiyamo tooto (a dedicated woman).