Tangle with the butterfly


Taking a cue from the previous writing of my oga, Fadhilat Sheikh Kehinde Mahroof, I have been able to concoct this article. You can roll with me.

I have been to the world of ducklings where the mother follows her children. I have threaded the perverse jungle where parrot watches with indignation. I was in attendance the day the local bata drummer rendered his song with sonorous melody while in deep action. Not only did he receive applauds, but was given an award for his eloquence and composure with the beat of his drum. I sat and saw, with my korokoro eyes, with amazement the day Loxondata africana taught the monkey how to scramble among trees that dwarfs iroko. Not only was it done with dexterity, even the trees stood still in their shock with its Olympic standard acrobatic skills as it trumpets along. I was one of the chairmen of the day when Rana sp., yes, the frog was crowned for his gift of garb. My backyard was the venue of the race that saw tortoise emerge the fastest animal alive. Even the cheetah couldnt believe his eyes. The firmaments would bear me witness that I saw the whale walk across the deserts without breaking even a sweat. The Sahara deserts to be precise. That same day was the first day I saw rats dining amicably with cats and monkeys strolling amorously with tigers. My eyes couldnt believe what it saw when the lion was shaking hands with the antelope and the snail competing confidently with the lizard on push-up contest.

Oh, the scene was a beauty to behold! My mind, as my engineer, has constructed countless mind-boggling scenes dressed in expensive suits of imagery. And I have not, for once, deprived him his dividend of his hard work. I have been paying him his wages for his amazing products that people sometime, if not often, give kudos to. This is because I am not an ingrate. He, however, disappointed me for not letting me be in the know that labalábaʹ shubuʹ làlàbá in a popular word language: butterfly having head-on collision with a full grown man, that my people, Yoruba; use in an idiomatic expression or rather a tongue ʹtwister, can really and truly be really true.

’It sounds strange to you, right? Look, my people, Àì d’ẹ̀gbẹ́ jìnà làì rí abuké ọ̀kẹ́rẹ́. B’éèyàn bá dẹ odò jìnà, yí ò rí ẹja tó y’arọ (If one stops being a lazy hunter in shrubs around the homestead and ford forests where brave hunters dare, he’ll encounter a hunchback squirrel. Whoever embarks on an offshore fishery will sight a lame fish.) Come with me. Today, it seems I woke up from the wrong side of the bed. The eighteenth girl I professed my love to just said no! Although, that is another story for another day.

My sister had told me categorically on a fateful Sunday that I had a faulty memory. It sounded strange to me, as the best student in all classes all through my life till senior secondary school exams. So brilliant I was that I represented my school in all competitions, including food competitions. Her assertions shocked me to the marrow until she spoke her mind and told me its only awful experiences I remember vividly. My nerves calmed down as I was about giving her a deafening slap. Sure it was, as I admitted in my mind. A testimony to what I am about to share with you.

Being the best student, I was picked to represent my school, in a tough and competitive competition organized by one of the multinational companies that love mathematics. Saturday, the day of the exams, was a day my body is conditioned to rest a while after my morning prayers. This would be followed immediately by my household chores which includes trekking close to a kilometer to fetch water for domestic use; a routine that takes three to four trips.

My innocent and thoughtful mind skipped the part that it still has an hour and half drive plus thirty minutes trek to make in order to get to school before making another one hour sojourn to the venue of the exams which starts by 9:00am.

Still hungry and un-bathed at 7:00am, my slumbering soul was put in forward gear when the scream of my sister threw the house in commotion. Brooooooother Aaaaashraf!, She yelled. Arent you supposed to be in school by now? It was at that point that the voice of my principal rang in my head;  You must be in school by 7:00am. A command to which I answered yes.

Trusting the authenticity of my faulty memory, I got to school safely around 8:00am with all my running, tumbling and all sorts of skills too dangerous for the gymnastics Olympics. It was then I put my golden medal in athletics in primary school to use. Oh! I was so superb!

On getting to school, I was told my oga and other colleague had left 30 minutes back. Where did they go?, was my question, knowing fully well that the centers for writing the exams were many. Trusting my guts, headed back through the route I took when coming to school to a centre I thought would be the venue. On getting there; I mean by trekking and running, I met them assembling the students into the classes. To my amazement, I was told the center was for the junior section! Flabbergasted, hungry and tired, I was thrown into a state of psychological quagmire, emotional stupor and intellectual phantasmagoria. Oh! I am dead already! My principal would kill me with every weapon he has.

Cutting the long story short, I finally got to my center when everybody else was halfway through. No matter how genius I was, I believed I cant score 50% of the score. If I scored 49%, I would have with all my powers sued Cowbell to the court of law for a crime I havent found a name for. So perplexing was my mood that all my focus was on the milk they would distribute after the exams. A beverage I later did acute justice to, knowing fully well what I was into.

Fast forward to Monday, my principal was fully briefed on how rascally and puckish I was. It was surely my judgment day. As I had predicted, I was summoned to the front of the assembly, this time not to receive applause, but to feel how painful it was not to win. I knew my enemies would be happy with what was about to happen.

During the course of his usual school address, a boy of my height and complexion, who would later be my hero and savior interrupted his speech from the normal murmur that characterizes boys only school. Visibly angry, he ordered him out and commanded that six different canes of different sizes and beating intensities be brought out. My heart literarily ran out of my body. But I kept my faith that I am not going to be beaten.

Just like the Quran records the alleged crucifixion of Christ, the boy was beaten severely more than he imagined or envisaged as the atonement for his crime. Little did he know that the principal thought it was me he was thrashing heavily. I could remember the boy looking at the principal in the face and thinking that wetin I do to deserve this. Even the teachers couldnt understand what was happening as I was standing on one side of the stage, gazing as a spectator in my own game.

After the cane massacre, for it was nothing short of that, he ordered the rendering of the school anthem; a signifier of discharge from the assembly to our respective classes. As tense as the assembly was, for my crimes and sentence had been pronounced earlier on, no one could say, Sir, you havent beaten the culprit, an evident pointer that I was loved by majority of the students and teacher. They couldnt bear seeing their super star in pain.

Everyone looked at me in amazement and wondered what prayers I said to save me from the ululation. Although I couldnt recognize the face of my savior, I later learnt lessons from life that day.

You might think yourself being strong, powerful, brilliant, articulate, overbearing, patient and sublime, life can throw a small challenge at you and you would fail woefully. A small obstruction to your pathway might bring you down no matter how experienced or grown up you are. You waste scarce resources you have and you end up being punished for your recklessness by life itself. Had it been that Alaba, the grown up man in the Yoruba idiom had remained calm with what the butterfly had done, he wouldn’t have wasted his energy so much so, for the tongue twister later stated that làlàbaʹ baʹ la laʹbàraʹ, (Alaba gave the butterfly a heavy slap meant not for the cheeks, but the back).

Idiomatic as it seems, before even Alaba could lift his hands, the butterfly could have gone. Energy wasted on the side of Alaba and mission achieved; butterfly.

I was confident, brilliant, and outstanding, but my immature nature of the dynamics of life; that it cant be the same method all the time and that you would be taken out of your comfort zone whenever life wills, was oblivious of me. Sometimes you would be informed of its advances, sometimes, you wont. It takes two to tangle, so it expects you to be prepared.

I later won accolades for my school and applause for myself, stories abound therein too, but the principal still believed deep inside him that I was punished for a sin I mistakenly committed. Yes, we later dined and wined together to the extent that he linked his name to mine.

Although, I was saved by an innocent boy though, I used that as an opportunity to bounce back, even if I was punished, I wouldnt have let it bring down my spirit of scholarship. Life was never meant to be a bed of roses. Even if it were, roses too do have thorns.

In every situation you find yourself, there is always a saviour for you. I hid away from the glare of my principal after I was suumoned up and this prevented me from being seen even before, during and after the thrashing. In life, your savior is somewhere around the corner, position yourself well and prevent yourself from avoidable sufferings and disgrace of life as it can come in any direction.

Life is a race, run, tumble, summersault and do everything in your capacity to reach your goal, God is watching you and he is not going to let your acts go unrewarded.


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