So one day, in the not so distant past, I am having this inbox conversation with this digital acquaintance, and somehow, the conversation, as almost all conversations of this sort are wont to do, steers itself to the areas of comfort, and finance, and sustenance. In what is perhaps an unconscious attempt to draw me out, my interlocutor tells me about suffering, and stress, and pain.
For a brief, dreamlike mondo bizarro moment, I am tempted to come really clean and get dirty with my interlocutor. To tell her about my own experiences. To broaden her education on the subject of pain, of stress, the kind that makes you crave oblivion, experiment with drugs, and search for answers in the bottoms of alcohol bottles. But I pause.
This kinship of suffering is a dangerous thing. A brotherhood of pain, that makes bedfellows out of perfect strangers and leaves unconnected individuals feeling like team mates in a never ending race against the oblique figure of the oppressor looming over us all; the government in all its varied guises and appearances, the bad roads, nepa, sickness, the economy, the recession, the myriad faces of lack, poverty, and insufficiency.
I’m smiling as I start typing about being misunderstood and preferring the company of the voices inside my head, about memories and places and faces that dredged up demons better left unearthed, about pain…
Then I stop. I highlight the last two paragraphs I have written about the experience, being me, what it really means, and delete them.
You see, sometimes, we let people assume. Not because we want them to think we’re better than them, or because we want them to keep their damn noses out of our business, but because people need to aspire. The fellow that thinks I must be holding up well, in spite of the fact that we are all getting fucked sans lube by the economy, by the media, by the religious leaders, and, it seems, by everything that is supposed to ameliorate life and make it to be not quite so bad, that guy or girl needs to aspire, to dream, to hope, to think that, even if somehow, it doesn’t get better, but continues to climb upwards like the cost of fuel, even if the country takes and takes from us where it is meant to give and give, he needs to hope that somehow, if this other guy can hold up his end, and be doing something, maybe not raking in the billions or having money pouring in hand over fist, but able to get by, keep the feet moving, one in front of the other, plodding and walking, then perhaps it is not so bad. Perhaps he can stay without crime. Perhaps he can be okay too.
Are you Nigerian? Are you uncomfortable with the state of the nation, with the constant and consistent downward slide in the purchasing power of the national currency, the unavailability and irregularity of electric power, the bad state of roads, the gesturing and posturing of a large portion of our armed forces who are ill-bred, ill-taught, ill-trained, and only escape into the armed forces or law enforcement for the twin reasons of
finding a quasi-legitimate outlet for their angst and aggression,
finding a place for the societal dregs that they have become, since no jobs exist in the vast abyss that is the Nigerian work space, and the only way to avoid being a real thug is to become a uniformed thug, with the thin threads of the uniform functioning poorly as a dividing line between one variant of thuggish bully and the other?
Are you tired of seeing the police and other armed services display themselves as “forces” in a country where everything is too hard already and people turn to anything and everything in a bid to find succour?
Are you tired of hearing about avoidable deaths due to suicide?
Are you tired of seeing, hearing, and reading about “orphaned monies”, usually in foreign currency, lying about unclaimed because either the bigwig who owns it has too many caches of the same to worry about just one stash, or the aforesaid bigwig is not particularly willing to step forward and be acclaimed the crook he is.
Are you tired of presidents who vanish without warning, and spend more time on foreign trips, both medical and otherwise, than in the country, doing the job they were sworn in to do?
Welcome, dear reader. Welcome to our brotherhood of pain. We share a kinship of suffering. But can I dare you to hope, that 2019 is not such a long way off, that the economic hardship presently being experienced now will translate into a heightened social awareness and political consciousness, and that when the time comes, we can grab our voters’ cards and set this nation right by voting out a failed experiment?
There is hope, brother in pain. There is light at the end of the tunnel.