When things don’t go your way

Unpopular side with Thomas Oti

Email: thomasoti@qed.ng

What do you do when things don’t go your way? Those times when you can never seem to put a foot right? When even when you bet on a sure banker, it fails? What do you do at that very low period of your life? You may once have been the superman but now you are a squirmmingman. You were once King Midas but everything you touch now turns to ashes. You can’t take any step right. You can’t make any decision right. You are “evil” before God and man. You are the anti-Christ even as far as some people are concerned. You hate your life because from left, right and centre, you are surrounded by “problems”. Most of your own making more often than not, but sometimes, the problem is genuinely not your fault. You give your best all the time but it is usually no better than your worst. Even when you walk it looks like you are walking with two left legs. Try all you can, you generally don’t get things right. Very tiring. Very tiresome. Life at that point in time becomes a true bitch. In more situations than ever, you are usually between the devil and the deep blue sea. The devil is the devil. You can’t swim. What do you do?

For some of us, this is the true definition of midlife crisis. You have a hard look at your life after the flood and wonder where it all went wrong. You make a determined move to turn around your 40+ years on earth because you are convinced that it is time to change whatever you had done for the last 40 years that got you here in the first place. You figure maybe it had worked for so long but now it’s time to change the game. Some die. Literally. Of women. A generation past would marry 2nd, 3rd and 4th wives. Some ‘justifiably’. Others without an iota of justification .On most grounds at least. Religion usually being the base justifier in these instances. But “woemen” are only the half of it at these ages. These ages also usually see career changes based on no more or less than whimsical feelings of a need to change. And sometimes it’s actually justifiable; after all who doesn’t need change after 40 odd years of living in pretty much the same way and getting same results. Change is life’s one constant. So you change. Or at least you want change. No better time to change of course than your midlife. After 40 years, who can blame you? That’s probably why workers are not allowed to spend more than 35 years in the same office or even working. Because if after 35 years you are still keen on working the same gig, you deserve to be changed.

Nigeria’s change has come rather later than usual though. It is probably only just reaching middle age. So, nothing dramatically strange there. Appears that its own coming of age crisis is corruption though. And it is one that has been coming for a while too.  As far back as independence. Judging from the nation’s history we’ve read, been told, heard and seen. It’s been a long time since men and women of good and bad will have been coming of age and experiencing the crisis that comes with coming of age in Nigeria. They have had the “good fortune” (“bad fortune” for Nigeria) of having corruption as their hallmark crisis point. Almost all leaders without exception since 1960 have succumbed to the pleasures of corruption. They have romanticised and romanced it. They have made it cool to smile at each other across generational, ethnic and religious divides as they sat on fabled tables sharing the national cake. That was their own coming of age. That was the real change they had sought. For some of them, that was why they had supported the whole independence saga. It was their time to chop and clean mouth. Who should stop them? In fact, who could?

Sometimes midlife crisis may rear its ugly head at the tail end of one’s life. Plenty of reported instances of this happening over and over again. Old men who suddenly find their mojo and turn randy at 70 for instance. They marry one or two ‘small girls’. They rock them for the few years they have left and then leave them behind as they bite the dust. Some may have intentionally married the smallies to speed up their demise. When you are tired of living, what faster way to die than to do shokishoki until you die? Marrying a young lady in your old age is not a bad way to call down the end. You are using the familiar to ease up the fear of an unfamiliar end. Who can blame you? There are various other ways to speed up the ending process. One way is to go into politics in Nigeria. M. Buhari does not look like a man with a death wish. But psychologists might differ. What right thinking old man would consider it in their best interest to start ‘changing’ at 71? What did he too leave behind in the Rock at Aso that he had to go back and get? Or wait o, is it because his presidency was in Dodan Barracks that he went back to feel Aso Rock? But seriously, no old man deserves to suffer this much at all at all. 73 nudging 74 and still putting yourself through all these?! That is some really messed up life if you ask me. But you didn’t ask me, did you?

And some of us wonder what’s with the ear infection. It’s not that Nigerians talk too much at all. The telcos are quite happy about that fact actually. It is not that Nigerians complain too much either. The opposition is most joy-filled about that. It is simply that at seventy whatever, your body belongs to God. You have lived the requisite full time he promised of three score and ten. Any extras are at his whim and your body is back to him. You are just stubbornly hanging on. Ear today. Tummy tomorrow. Head the day after. Nigerian hospitals are famously ill-equipped. But this kind of disease is one that the doctors left behind whose brain have not been drained cannot treat. Only those responsible can treat it. And that is the British of course. They got us into this Mesopotamia with their colonization and their leader had the audacity to label us fantastically corrupt. M. Buhari has taken their problems to them. Let him also give David an earful too. And maybe an infection.