"He knows the map of where he walks on his head though he cannot(rather said he couldn't) see them.".A CLIP FROM AN AVERAGE AFRICAN OLD MAN.
He walks slowly (slower) than a snail.
He was journeyed to the site on a rickety Bajaj, his rickety self being an old man and one of the young boys in his early thirties brought him. They'd just wanted to share the land their ancestors left, and the old man has told my father
"I will not come. You are there, Kayode is there, my son is the surveyor so I don't need to come."
He'd said. When he showed up, it was astoundingly shocking.
The sun had been fighting with our skins and we'd buried our head under a shade, but now that the surveyor has brought the old man, we cannot allow him to walk under a naked sun.
"Go and bring an umbrella, don't run as you often do, the brake isn't okay."
I was told. I rode home and came back in a jiffy not minding the weak brake.
I was enjoined to place the umbrella and walk him through the 28 acres of land as they share the land. So I smiled and moved close to him. I saw him moving his leg as if it was ordered by a doctor checking the response of his weak patient. I placed the umbrella on his head. I wanted to cover his body so I lifted the umbrella off my own head, the sun became wild on me because I was perchance a fool. Perhaps.
They walked through the bush, we saw the first three division allocated to one of a family together. Baba was there, listening to them.
When you have agile people, do not compare them to the fragile ones.
I thought he would walk like them but his slow motion is tiring.
I was shocked when he said the space looks as if they've built houses there, I said "no, the bushes grew their houses there."
He is not blind, he just can't see.
"I cannot come to this farm alone, I'll get lost."
"Why will you need to come, Baba?"
This time, the beneficiaries and representatives of each families have gone with the Surveyor which was one of Baba's son.
"Isn't there a palm tree here?
There is a tree here, isn't it?"
He asked suddenly, I was quite shocked but... This is his land, he knows how the bush was structured and where the trees had grown even without his full afternoon eye. His sense is sharper than the efficacy of a serpent's venom.
"Yes, there is."
I finally muttered after a long thought. It seems weird to me.
I muttered silently as I walked him on broken stumps and...
"raise your leg a bit, Baba. Move close to my side; come near me, you're walking in the bush.
Lift your rod, let me help you.
Wait, let me cut this entangled bush that has made a rope on your shoes, you could fall down.
Baba wait, let me move closer to the bush while you walk on this plain land.
Baba, you're walking in the bush. Be patient, let me clear the road"
I said consecutively.
"My left leg his weak"
At times, he would stretch his hand to the front, trying to hold a tree for support."Baba, I'm here."
I've always hold him either at his hand, or behind him; my hand around him.
I was tired. The man cannot see yet he came to a desecrated bush, it's frustrating but I'll be responsible for anything, he is the eldest and oldest surviving son of his father/family.
There are times I wanted to push him, I'd wanted to carry him. There was a time he had his shoes stuck in an entangled bush, I've told him to always lift up his leg but this time, he was trapped already. Those we're following are far from us, they're moving, never tired, but Baba was tired, so am I, but he kept walking at least to hear their voices.
I'd thought, "this is likely what happens when a father doesn't trust the work his sons and daughters will do. If he trusts them, he should know that they'll share the land accurately, so why the unnecessary stress of an old man? He's old already, what does a pregnant woman needs that cannot be provided by a rich husband?"He was trapped in the bush, he wanted to fall. The umbrella I held in my hand, I placed it on his head and I sweep my other hand around him...trust me, I was shocked. He regained stamina the first time, he staggered on same spot again, he staggered thrice. My heart became a mortar where I'd pounded yam on Sunday. My hands was shaking, really shaking with fear and my spirit was softly unfeeling to the moment. What can I do? I cannot leave him.
He stood defenseless and sighed. I couldn't hear that but I saw him looking at the front as if some forces are coming — he looks at the front and holds his chest.
So we journeyed again, to move closer to where they are. But these people are something else, the closer we move, the far they seem to us. There was a time I couldn't hear their voices, they were as that far yet Baba wants to hear everything; who owns the first 3 division, the second 3 division and the....but the surveyor is his son, why the unnecessary stress?!
I questioned my mind.
"You are doing a great job. You have come to do a great job today."
I chuckled when I heard it.
"Isn't there a tree here?
"Yes, there is, Baba."
"This is the boundary of the first family. They've gone up, right?"
He knows the map of where he walks on his head though he cannot(rather said he couldn't) see them. He asked many times,
"isn't there a maize being planted here?"
I said "NO" as often time as he asks, I see nothing but dry maize and fresh cassavas.
We trailed them but we couldn't get them. I got tired.
Baba carried his leg slower than a new baby, I still questioned myself his reason for coming.
We walked the Israelites' journey and we resolved to go back to where we'd left initially.
I was actually taken to the site to know the allocated site for my father/my family but the work I went there to do is the hardest and weakest work to do — leading an old man who has lost his afternoon eye in a thick bush is a great deal.
He told me something, he said,
"the lady I called Odunola, she brought the Fulani's to one of the farms I gave her and they burnt all my fruits; my cashews...everything.
I came to halt any kind of quarrel she might arouse because she is impatient and could cause rancour at any slight sight of displeasure to her elders' judgement. If I choose to look at the rain in its gentleness and I do not close my window, it will wet my bed unaware."
"Have we reached the tall tree by my right hand side?"
"Yes. There is as well a planted cassava here."
As I hold his hand occasionally or throw my hand across his bending back, I'll either move him forward or want to push him but his aged sweat streaming from his shoulder and his body consumes me.
"I'm sorry, I don't have any ill towards you, Baba."
I'd always said that in my mind.
Even when old men are old and cannot see, they cherish their eye than death, yet, they do not want the wrong to be wrong. His preoccupation on sharing the land has been changed but what can he do?
"if these professors says they'll do it their way, that's how it will be done."
He said as we walked back.
We walked to where we'd started walking, we saw the other people coming out from the bush where we'd at least expected, they'd toured round and round and had shared the land. It is soothing to him when my father said
"we have shared it without quarrels. Your prayers are answered."
I still held him near, but he didn't know me.
Years ago, when he could see and walk alone, he called me "Baba kunkulu" meaning, "short man" because I was young. And in my naivety, I often call him same name and he would laugh but this time, old age has taken it all.
My father told me, I'd just took an Eighty Seven years old man to a thick bush and back without dragging him nor has he complained of any sort of mistreatment...
But Baba forgot to pray for me when he was leading his closing prayer before he was taken home. but his soul had blessed me already.
"words from the innocent mind"
Akinwale Peace Akindayo