A lot can happen in a year. This year has proven this cliché, truer than any year has in times past. It’s been a year of woes and wonders – from the world war threat, the bushfire disaster, pandemic crisis, EndSars protest and its heartbreaking aftermath, to the ceaseless banditry up north.
I sighed with relief as my wife and I alighted from the bus, observing the unusually low traffic. As we walked home from the bus stop, my thoughts drowned the noise of the busy street. It has been a long and nerve-stressing day. The firm had downsized its staff and the rest of us that were lucky to keep our jobs had to take a pay cut. The second time in six months!
After work that day, my wife and I met up to see an old family friend, Bayo. Usually, on Friday nights like this, we would go to the Cinema with the kids and our wives. Afterwards, I would take my wife, Uju out to dinner – a way of having an “us” time. Tonight was different, we hadn’t kept that family tradition in a while now. With a pay cut and Uju’s never-ending schedule at the hospital due to the raving pandemic, we hardly have time for each other. I had to sell one of our cars to keep us afloat. One of my children, Dan, has been out of school due to the ongoing strike. Meanwhile, Bayo’s plan to relocate outside the country was frustrated because of the travel ban. The nation’s economy is a total disaster. No one planned for this to happen.
We all had better expectations at the start of the year, but eleven months after, I dragged my body like a worn-out coat beside Uju as she shared how work at the hospital has increased and how glad she is that a cure had been discovered.
We stopped to get suya at the junction of our house. Uju reminded me of how I didn’t order much on our first date because I didn’t have enough money! I feigned half-hearted laughter.
The kids were playing video games when we got home. They joyfully grabbed the suya we bought and went back to playing FIFA. I sat with them for a minute before leaving for the kitchen to get water. I walked in on a phone conversation and heard Uju tell her friend how she had an amazing time with me. She had described our trek back to the house as “a beautiful evening walk with my husband that reminded me of when we were younger. He held my hand and simply listened to me as I cleared my head of all mental toxicity from work.” I allowed her to finish her conversation before walking in.
I felt a glow in my heart. She had a different idea – a positive perception of how the night had been. There was a sudden change in my thought process. Maybe the year, so far wasn’t about getting more things, maybe I had been wrong as to the definition of a better year. Maybe it was about appreciating what we already have. Celebrating the overlooked wins that I still have a job, I have a roof over my head, my parents are well, I have a wonderful family to go home to and an amazing wife to call my own. That despite the throes and woes, I survived a freaking pandemic and I was able to keep my mental health in check. That the year has been tough enough already and if all I did was hold pieces of myself together when all seem to be chaotic and stormy then that too is a win, and the simple act of being alive is enough. Alas, I had spent so much time pondering on the negative vibes that came with the year that I had ignored my wins! Yes, maybe things could have been better, but then, things could have also been worse!
“I had a good evening, thank you,” Uju whispered and snuggled up into my arms later that night. I let out a big smile. I really do have a lot to be thankful for.
“There’s been a pay cut at work again, twenty-five per cent,” I muttered nonchalantly. Uju smiled as if she didn’t hear me.
“Let’s enjoy the night while there is still light,” she said, playing with the scanty strands of hair on my lower chin. Seconds later there was a power outage. NEPA! And we burst into peals of uncontrollable laughter.