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Bola Malogo: The boisterous soul

Published by The Nation on Sun, 21 Apr 2019

Something nudged me on Sunday afternoon of March 3, 2019 that we were at a tipping point. Was it the way she lay, almost lifeless, on the bed or her near-inaudible speech' That day, I knew she was not the Bola I had known for more than two decades. She was pale and withdrawn, devoid of the boisterousness that made her Bola Malogo. I was afraid looking into her eyes; once clear, playful and penetrating, they often bore into you as if seeking a deeper meaning to every word and gesture. That afternoon, the eyes were void and depthless, drained of their rove and sparkle. I also noticed her lips were parted, as if poised for the usual daring, friendly smiles but they were too heavy for audible speech. No banters, no accusations of me not always calling. None of the deep affectionate charges of Brother Wole, you have abandoned your sister. Just plain, void stare.It was a very scary stare. Scary for what I guessed it portended; that Bola my sister, the dear and supportive wife of my friend, Bruce Malogo, might be crossing the Rubicon; the imperceptible line between being and not being. It was scary, very scary that this unspeakable illness she had fought with every fibre of her being for more than a decade was now having the upper hand.But I am a man of faith; faith weaves hope and hope springs eternal. Even in these days and times, the dawn of Artificial Intelligence, where medicine thumps its nose at nearly all ailments and man boasts of being able to give life to the machine, I believe prayer could still work even after the doctors might have hung the stethoscopes and their body language suggests despair. That Sunday afternoon I prayed Bola would vanquish the unspeakable ailment. I prayed the boisterousness of soul would return with the can-do, daring eyes. I prayed for God to heal her now heavy lips for the friendly, sunny smiles. I prayed for the voice to regain its pitch so I could hear Brother Wole again, asking after my family, so I could listen again to the endless lectures on why I need to feed properly and stop gnawing at food as if it were poison.It was important to pray the slipping soul should stay to witness the manifestation of the future for which it had endlessly toiled. The future was perceptible, there right in front of us. The children of yesterdays toil had grown into adorable adults. You could see in them that the yells of the days of pruning, the seemingly endless school-runs, the prayers had started paying out; in them you could see tomorrow unveiling its face. It promises to be a greater future for the toddlers of yesterday who had already started carving career niches. The future was pregnant for the things Bola herself cherished; the growing family, the weddings, grandchildren learning to take their first steps, tots running around the copious space. How Bola loved to tell stories and the future was also holding out promises that she could tell her stories to a brand-new generation in grey hairs; on the power of hope and the place of hard work in the trajectory of success. She sure would have loved to tell the grandchildren stories on the staying power of faith and virtues of perseverance.I remembered she told a part of that story a few years back to a gathering of friends, when she came back from a major brink of that illness. She told of her infectious courage through chemotherapies, how she kept latching on to hope by just thinking of how she would hold her grandchildren. She told of her optimism and determination and how it inspired even the doctors. She promised to persevere no matter what and she fulfilled her promises. Bola was deft at practically making lemonades out of every lemon thrown at her by life. She was an encourager to family and friends. For the more than one decade she was also a counsellor to those who wrestled with similar aliments.When medicine fails and faith too seems to have failed, we often ask why and wonder What-If. We do because we are rational beings. We often query the paths taken and second-guess what might lie in the alternative paths we forgo. At such times, we may even question why heavens that had once honoured our faith suddenly go blind, deaf and mute. But if we care to take a deeper gaze, we will see a gleam of heavenly grace shines through even amidst the dark winter of our souls. We wonder why the departed had to leave, and just when the future was within grasp. Such conjectures; the Whys and What-Ifs would endure as long as we live. Bruce would wonder the logic of it all tonight as he drifts to sleep alone and contemplates the Boisterous Soul that once compensated for his own restrained soul. So would the children especially when time calls for maternal counsel.Emily Levine, the fecund Jewess, was a poet, a philosopher, a comedian and a study on differing, unusual aptitudes. The philosopher part reined free at the sunset of her life, especially whenever she addressed the subject of death. She reminded a rapt audience on TED Talks one of those moments in May 2018,I am just a collection of particles that is arranged into this pattern, then will decompose and be available, all of its constituent parts, to nature, to reorganize into another pattern. To me, that is so exciting, and it makes me even more grateful to be part of that process.Levine had Stage IV cancer in her lungs as she spoke those words to the audience. She passed away on February 3rd, 2019 predating Bola Malogo by a full month and ten days.Bola too would want us to be grateful for the life and times we shared together, and to dwell less on the future she would not see. She would want to be remembered for the immense possibilities she created and nourished, especially the beam of sunlight she exuded in the face of that adversity. She was a veritable gift of God to our friend Bruce and they raised a beautiful family through innumerable thrills and odds.We shall remember the smiles and unquenchable spirit, though they now belong to the Angels.Akinyosoye lives in Lagos.
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