In the last presentation, I promised to let out the discovery that made me both laugh and think. I shall do just that. But before then, let me situate that bit of the story for proper perspective.
You see, just last week, exactly this time last week at about 3 p.m, I was at a wedding where in a quite unusual way, a local drink Mum has a mastery of was served. It isn’t the norm around here. It is often bottled soft drinks and some harder liquor on the table. In this event, it was bottled pineapple juice.
Until towards the end, I did not see any form of alcohol until I spotted some two mini bottles of a liqueur I could not readily make out. It doesn’t appear to have been served there. Maybe some of the guests thinking the pineapple drink too feminine or something decided to either bring it or buy it. Or maybe, the host did serve it in a very limited way; I really cannot tell. But, the local drink was served while folks danced.
Upon sighting the lady measuring out the drink into disposable cups, a number of interested friends went to have a taste. My buddy, Korkor signals me to know if I was interested. Without waiting for my response, she goes ahead to get three cups ‑ one for herself, one for me and the last for another colleague seated by me. I ended up drinking two cups because the other co-worker wouldn’t have it anymore. I liked it so I went for more. I had missed it.
Well, it would be a week or two before visiting Mum, so why not get something to slake that thirst in the meantime? I got an empty bottle of mineral water and had the serving lady fill it up. I had others in this company. It is sold like this. In the past, it was even sold tied up in transparent polythene bags or in sealed bags for those who were going to have it almost as soon as they purchased one. I wasn’t going to drink it all up so hastily; it needed to be drunk in rations and measure.
By now, you know what I discovered was in the giant plastic Coke bottle? It was ‘zobo’ (‘zoborodo’) or ‘sobolo’ as the Ghanaians would rather call it. What happened?
You see, Mum made good zobo, but I hadn’t visited her much or given enough prior notice of my coming for her to make some anytime I did turn up at her door. You see, to make zobo, you needed to boil the leaves of Hibiscus sabdariffa plant over a considerably long period of time to extract the juices. Then, you had to add the spices: cinnamon, ginger etcetera, get it to cool, add whatever flavouring, sieve and refrigerate. That takes some time.
Thoughtful as she was, she decided that on my birthday anniversary, she would gladden me with one of those local drinks that would doubtless delight my soul. My Coke prejudice wouldn’t let me even dare open the bottle to verify. As far as I was concerned, it was a Coke, period! To make matters worse, the ‘Share a Coke’ fad had just hit town and gone viral. Even I who was no lover of the drink had the app with which I ‘shared’ Cokes with all manner of persons on WhatsApp. I thought it was my kid sister trying to jump me into the fray. Funny isn’t it?
In addition, because her hamper had done quite a journey before reaching me, the sobolo-in-Coke package did not really foam when I received it. It looked just as dark as a Coke. And since I wasn’t going to drink it, I thought it wasteful and unnecessary to open it up. There was no need to. So, I had lived three (3) full months with a 1.5 litre bottle of my favourite zobo drink without knowing?! Like Jacob at Bethel, sobolo was here and I knew it not! Only if I had been more conscientious.
Speaking of conscientiousness, I recall an incident in my college days that left me with a lot of eggs in my face.
We lived in an apartment which had two bedrooms aside a library, conference room, living room, kitchen, toilet and bathroom. We were a few in there, but because of the holidays, some other friends had moved in to stay with us for the period. It was always a happy time together those vacation times. But one day, the monies of one of us got missing. It was quite an amount for us at that stage of our lives.
Immediately he reported the loss, a search ensued. After rummaging for a while without success, we had to concentrate more on the timelines of events and I volunteered in myself to find out the perpetrator of this act. My logical mind swung into action, and in no time I had narrowed it to one young man.
An older friend there cautioned me about being categorical, but I was adamant. I was cocksure the said friend was the culprit. I sat the older colleague down to explain my conclusion based on ‘irrefutable’ analyses. I was obviously convincing, but… This older gentleman cautioned. He wanted us to give the benefit of the doubt to the accused. I opined that no thief tells the truth, so he should just be confronted and asked to refund the money.
Upon the arrival of my accused, I was forward enough to put it to him that he had taken the money to which he stood shocked and amidst tears asked: ‘Did you see me?’, ‘When did I take it?’, ‘Why do you say I took it because I have all of a sudden been spending money when we all have been barely able to feed twice a day?’, ‘Do you know where I get what I eat or bring into this place from?’ To these questions, I hadn’t an answer. All I had was a face full of slimy egg-whites with golden and in some cases rotten yolks.
I was thoroughly abashed. I had a self-inflicted chagrin that day. He moved out, and for a while wouldn’t stand my presence. I tried asking his forgiveness, but I do not recall us having a good relationship thereafter. Like a rumpled paper, our relationship couldn’t again be as smooth. I have since then learned the carpenter’s rule, to measure twice and cut once.
Recently, there was another theft around me. It happened in my absence, about a month before my arrival. Upon arriving, I was just satisfied to hear that folks were prepared to pay for it with levies imposed by themselves having not found the wrongdoer.
Having an oversight role and the payments delaying, my CSI mind swung into action again; except that this time, I was just acting on a nudge after a session of prayer about the matter. For no apparent reason two names came to mind. I inquired of the sequence of events leading to the loss of the device. And as the narration went, I followed up progressively with verification and disclaimers. Somewhere along the line, one name got dropped off my list and on went my research. In a matter of forty-eight (48) hours, I had something close to cracking the mystery. In two weeks time, the device had been found and returned by the pending name on my list. I had learned my lesson and used my experience well. But curiously I did not apply same to a filled 1.5 litre Coke bottle!
This sobolo-in-Coke-bottle event has taught me a life lesson. You see, often humans as we are, we tend to see things not as they are but as we are. Without really realizing, we see and hear things based on a preconceived notion. And until and unless we work at developing an open, near-naive and objective mindset, we would very often misjudge people, their words, actions, inaction, and things in general. We would say all kinds of things, howbeit inaccurate about others and events before realizing how much damage we had done by not being patient and open enough to look a little deeper and more conclusively.
Giving the benefit of the doubt is one alibi we all latch unto when misjudged or even accused, but we aren’t as kind enough to give same when the shoe is on the other foot. For very unknown reasons, we all believe we are objective, fair and patient when indeed we are everything but that when the rubber hits the road. When push comes to shove, we show so much jaundiced opinion, the physician wouldn’t mind a free medical assistance. How so often our comments gives away our very invidious mindset.
Admitting and allowing others into our goodwill books is a benevolence we do to ourselves more than to them. If we would credit them with some good faith, however naive and simple that may make us seem, we would soon find out that behind the devilish look of some fellow is a celestial beauty only marred by the vicissitudes and corruption of life. And this is even assuming that there is enough superficial or facial reason to adjudge them devils prima facie. If we would probe a little further, and wait a little more, we shall find out that it wasn’t a Coke after all.