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Read Letter

Abducted Happiness

Dear Jil, I had intended to write you on matters of the heart but the pallium of death over my nation consternates. It’s been a very rough three weeks for the entire nation. Very traumatic. The bizarre unfurled its wings before our very eyes. Lo and behold it is a fire breathing dragon.

I woke up this morning with a rather heavy heart. I can’t define the heaviness. It’s like an indefinable weight in the lower left centre of my being. Pain has weight. Sadness has mass. When they inhabit us they exert gravitational pull on our spirit. And sometimes pain is so deep it exhibits anaesthetic qualities. Our hearts become numb, we can’t feel. The sympathetic undertaker has taken up abode in our land. It has set up enterprise and it is not lacking in patronage.

Just three days ago there was yet another bomb blast. Humans roasted, the living were mangled. It was a gory sight to behold Jil, even with the two dimensional limitation of photography. I scarse could look. And the flesh became word as the dead became news. And just when we were getting the point across about the abduction of 234 school girls across the desert. That number is uncertain but even one abducted girl is enough. I have a lovely daughter. There are things I don’t want to imagine. There are things no parent wants to confront. Yet life has forced the parents of those young girls to face in real terms what we abhor in our imagination.

I shudder to think of the trauma and the terror visited on the parents of the #ChildrenOfChibok. It’s been 19 days. Not a word, except the clawings of our collective ignorance. Did you see the mothers wailing on television? Did you see their agony? There are of course some who have determined that these mothers are the cast of an elaborate scheme. That it’s all counter-intelligence- a political gimmickry full of contrivances and drama. But in these circumstances it is better to err on the side of compassion. If it all seems so “dramatic” it’s because torture produces drama. The pain of a missing suckling is involuntary. Those who know the pain know the pain. And a mother knows her pain.

There is a place for empathy. There is a place for humaneness. Even animals know empathy. We must be careful lest we step beyond the circle of empathetic capacity of even animals. Our role in the trauma of others cannot be annoying wickedness or inglorious perfidy. We must not politicise the pain and anguish of others with pachydermatous insensitivity. This is not the time. This is not the place. This is not the time for ethnic jingoism. This is not the place for religious parochialism. That which binds us all together is humanity. We cannot lose the essence of our commonality. Innocence is now a prisoner of war. And when innocence becomes a bargaining chip we must beware. We are bargaining with the future.

One day Jil you’re going to be a mother. May that which suckles at your breast not be forcefully taken from you. And may that which you birth in pain and agony not be used as a source of pain and agony to you. As for the issue you presented to me I think the problem is selfishness. Selfishness defeats the very purpose of a relationship. A relationship in concept is a contributory scheme- each party contributing. It becomes so strong when both parties contribute without reservation. But when there’s withholding problems arise. Some people bargain with emotions in a relationship. They’ll refuse to tell the other party “I love you” even though they do. It’s a negotiating position- the seeking of dominance, leverage and control- to make the other party beholden to them.

The irony of life is that those who withhold affection require it the most. Sometimes it’s because of fear of vulnerability and sometimes it’s a strain of maliciousness. Withholding affection in a relationship is ultimately self defeatist. The excessive desire to control others in a relationship takes away that which we desire in a relationship. It prevents prospects from committing to us and ultimately denies us the prize we’ve worked for. You can’t be me-focused in a relationship. There has to be a sense of consideration for the other party. Without vulnerability on both sides a relationship is a wooden commodity exchange. Each party will live in his or her own world, protective of what they own. There’ll be relating but not a relationship. Don’t seek to control or dominate your man. He’ll resent it. Initially he may take it but over time he’ll resent it.

Look I’m really troubled in my spirit. We’ll talk about all that later. This whole terrorism thing has gotten to me. There is a mixture of pain, anger and impotence. It’s a befuddling cocktail. There must be a lot going on behind the scene but I think government needs to communicate more. And the embedded political arm of government should please stop commenting on these issues. It’s beyond politics. This is not the time to demonise public opinion. We can’t practice a democracy of intolerance of views. If there’s angst in the land it should be understandable. The issue confronts us all. The #ChildrenOfChibok are the children of us. It could be you, it could be me. Our enemies are relentless and remorseless. They own a bloody franchise of a dastardly enterprise.

I could go on and on but I must rest my soul. By the grace of God we will get over this. Will write you later. Don’t forget to black out your profile. Just take a picture of a black surface and replace your pix. Let’s honour the dead, the dying and the missing…

Your mentor,


© Leke Alder 2014

Tags : Pain, Control, Empathy

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