Tough times, they say define tough people. I must have heard that statement a million times but it never made sense to me until now. All through life, one is expected to grow, but the funny thing about life is it never tells you how that growth is going to happen. Today I am experiencing a different kind of growth and it can only be completed if I share my experience with you.
Life does not always paint the picture you imagine
I never thought of living the urban life to settle in a village not until my service to my country required me to do so. I had always pictured a different kind of freedom, one that will be experienced with interesting people with no limits and no restrictions. It was the first time I was going to be away from my parents, the first time I didn’t have a curfew and I was determined to break all the rules. But little did I know that life had a different package in store for me.
I received the first shock when we got to the accommodation. It was situated close to the rice farms so that meant we were isolated from the main town: that’s if I could call a market area a “town”. It was swampy even in the dried season and I could only imagine how muddy it was going to get when the rains begin to fall.
There were no houses built with concrete blocks only those built with mud bricks and thatched roofs. Who would need electricity in a farm so all the electrical gadgets I brought were going to be a waste. And so the journey of adopting a life of a village farmer began and I had no single clue where to start.
Learn to appreciate every little thing.
It’s funny how the little things we have are often taken for granted. I never thought I would appreciate the quietness and tranquility of the night until I got to my location. If it was a hallucination, it couldn’t get worse. All I know is every night I spent was filled with strange sounds. The very ability to rest was taken away from me and right there it hit me. I would give anything to have my rest back but even that opportunity was so far from my reach.
We all have the ability to create fun
As I mentioned earlier, I was used to the loud life. A particular kind of loudness which was basically western music from the stereos of home theatres but now I had to change the definition of fun. The only place having drums and a piano was a church at the other side of town and after two Sundays of attendance, I could no longer afford the transportation fare. Again another part of home was out of my reach and I had to really improvise.
I had to begin to enjoy the sounds of clapping and the traditional drums and frankly I just discovered there was a peace I felt when they sang in their dialect and danced. They had a complicated dance which could be described as a snake-like movement. They would move slowly taking one step after the other bending their backs and waving their hands towards the sky. Apart from the fun I derived from watching them dance I also appreciated their ability to preserve that culture despite western civilization. I cannot deny I am really having fun.
Wisdom is found in unexpected places
I have always had a thing for cleanliness and these people stood to define the direct opposite. Their appearance was always dirty and they often had dusty legs even when their clothes were neat.
Amidst their dirty habits and spontaneous schedules, they had a determination I have never seen previously, and it was not only found amongst their adults but it also ran in their kids. I would always come out of my house and watch them as they ran across the farm getting water to irrigate while the adults dug up the earth forming giant ridges for the yam cultivation.
As I watched them, memories of my childhood flashed before my eyes and I saw how space and distance could make the same people so different. All I have ever learnt was how to read and write and all they knew was how to handle a hoe, perhaps that will be all they would ever know.
They saw themselves as people struggling to survive under the country’s recession while l saw heroes and heroines and a legacy being passed from generation to generation.
So maybe I am headed for more pleasant and unpleasant surprises but I am sure of one thing; I am tough and positive and I can only become stronger.