I was tardy to the Leadership Summit and my replacement was already giving the keynote address. I walked in slowly and made myself comfortable at the back row. I bowed my head in shame for disappointing the organizers and myself. I was never late for anything, I was usually at least 30 minutes early so this was a first. But little did I know that there were many more “ firsts” waiting in the horizon. I was amazed to discover that my replacement, who had been found at the spur of the moment was giving a much better speech than I could ever give. I had spent weeks writing and adjusting my speech for the 100th time and it wasn’t nearly as coherent as what this person was producing at the drop of a hat.
Oh no, I have been living a lie. I thought I was irreplaceable, that many things would fall apart without me, that the leadership meeting would be a fiasco without me, but it was all a fallacy. I was always the center of attraction, the focal point at every meeting, and I reveled in that. Today however, was different. I was in the back row trying to pick up the broken pieces of my life and there was no other place I would rather be. I no longer wanted the limelight. I fell in a trance of some sort, and I begun to reminisce on my actions over the past years.
6 years ago, I became a wealthy businessman, I owned several companies and I was doing well financially. It was sometimes stressful, but the monetary gains made up for it; or so I convinced myself. I became extremely busy trying to amass more wealth even though I already had more than I needed. I was driven by money and every decision I made was centered around making more of it. One day at work, a very lucrative business deal went wrong, and I lost a lot of money. I was livid, it was a very rough day and I vented my anger and disappointment on anyone who crossed my path. On this same day, my mom called to ask if I could give her some money. I was so overcome by my anger that I snapped at my mom and told her to never call me at work/and or ask for money. In my fury, I did not have the sense to even ask why she needed the money (given that this was a rather strange request from her). You see, mom had NEVER called me at work or asked for money; she always accepted whatever I gave her and was content with it, little or much. I noticed she tried calling me a few times in the ensuing days, but I was too ashamed and guilty to speak with her, so I let pride and procrastination create a wide gulf between us, I tried to use the distraction of work to nurse my guilt. My mom was not one to fight or impose herself on anyone so after ignoring her calls, she let me be.
Like the girl from Bagabaga, I to did not know my father. Mom said he walked way from the family even before I was born leaving mom the arduous task of caring for my siblings and I. She worked countless menial jobs just to give us a decent life. I could see it took a huge toll on her physically and I was sad about it although I couldn’t do much to alleviate her stress. Mom taught us to be content, humble, compassionate, and kind. I remember saying to her many times;
“Mom, when I grow up, you wouldn’t have to work anymore, you wouldn’t have to worry about anything. I would take good care of you, I will make you proud, I promise”.
Mom raised me right but somehow, I managed to stray from my foundation, I had reneged on my heartfelt promise. My relationship with my older siblings also soured because I did not make time to check up on any one of them and I failed to return their calls. They to felt they were being a bother, and they decided to “leave me alone”. I was beginning to look at myself in the mirror and the image that looked right back at me was nothing short of a monster. Even I could not recognize myself anymore. How did I get here? How did I get so full of myself? No wonder I was so unhappy with myself. I thought money would fix me and make up for all the shiny objects I didn’t have as a child, but I was wrong. You see,
“A person’s true wealth stems from the quality of positive relationships they build during their lifetime. Love is what feeds the soul and gives one a sense of belonging and purpose”.
Certainly, one must pay bills and make a living, but our true worth cannot be measured in monetary terms. I had learnt this lesson at a very high price, in the unlikeliest of places, and with the help of a stranger. No wonder the girl from bagabaga was so happy. She did not have much, but she had family waiting at home and at the market place. Her soul was satisfied, and it emanated in everything she did. I on the other hand had gone emotionally bankrupt from feeding this insatiable desire called Pride. The social cost was just too high. I was now lonely, unhappy, engulfed in guilt, regret, and desperation, it simply wasn’t worth it. Upon reaching my hotel room, I barely made it to my knees when I burst into tears and a prayer:
God, I have been a fool, forgive me I have been proud, forgive me I made my work my idol, forgive me I have dishonored my mom, forgive me She sacrificed so much, forgive me I have been ungrateful, forgive me I don’t know how to fix this, help me
I don’t know when I finally slept off, but when I woke up in the morning, I knew I could not stay any longer for the summit. I felt this strong presence and urgency to head back home, so without any explanation to anyone, I packed up my stuff and began to make my way home. I promised Takara I would stop by to see her before leaving and that’s just what I did. It was the first time in years that I felt conscientious enough to honor a promise. Takara had left an indelible mark upon the canvas of my life and I had to thank her.
On my way to see the girl from bagagaba, I kept praying. God, I hope it’s not too late for me to see my mom and to make it right with her. Please give me a chance to say I’m sorry; I would give anything to let her hear me say I love her.
(to be continued)