Inspiring Change Through Literature and Media
“How do you manage to paint such accurate pictures and bring those scenarios to life so perfectly in your write ups?” Is a popular question.
And each time I’m asked, I smile knowingly and just look on in silence. But care for a truthful answer? I’ll tell you.
Sometimes, it happens by pure inspiration. When one is a writer, she sees things in totally different ways and mingles with life from an entirely different perspective. She sees beyond ordinary naked eyes and queries situations for more unlikely answers. Moreover, she analyses and even combines plots and characters in her head.
For her, every moment in life is a potential story, and every one she associates with a potential character. Not consciously though.
Apart from day to day interactions with people, I in particular also get my leads from other literature- especially the Bible; and often times from movies. I tend to read, study and watch with a third eye… and quite unconsciously, I read between the lines, and see beyond what is being played out or written.
However, the strongest of all factors which make me believable and bring my write ups and stories alive to the point where readers can actually feel, see and relate to what I’m recounting is experience: you don’t need much effort to describe what you have seen, handled or been through.
For instance, I can describe pain because I’ve felt pain.
I can describe how it feels to slip into unconsciousness because I’ve had several surgeries and the anaesthesia effect gives me an idea of what it means to be alive this moment and practically dead few seconds later. I could even actually describe what it must feel like to cross the thick or thin line between life and death from those experiences.
Moreover, I can describe betrayal because I’ve been betrayed.
And then I can describe fear…’Holy’, Christian, ‘pastoral’ fear…
Emphasis because it’s like an abomination for ‘leaders‘ to express or admit to fear in some circles.
But like I was saying, I can describe what it means to be dead afraid in spite of what you do know; and maybe even right after giving a lecture or preaching a message entitled “How to Deal with Fear”!
I’ve been there!
So like Jesus, I can relate to some human emotions and empathise because I can actually feel every pain involved. I’ve been there!
The year 2012 was a particularly ‘fearful‘ year for me. My very life was threatened several times. I will give just two accounts.
However, before I go on , I need to state that I am not fearful anymore. With the help of God, I now have a clear understanding of the purpose behind the ‘fears’ I felt: God allowed me to feel real cold fear so that I can describe fear accurately.
Beyond that with His help and by His grace, I have now so dealt with fear that I even sometimes tend towards being daring as regards some things I used to be so dead afraid of. I can testify that I now operate in total victory over fear. I am not afraid and I do not live in fear anymore.
That said, here is my first account:
I left home that Saturday morning to procure some packs of bottled water for my Retail Outlet. I had to do some market runs to achieve that because we were completely out of stock: our supplier had failed to complete an order during the week. (One of the major challenges retailers live with).
So I left home very early so as to catch up with demands before start of business. I bought about fifteen packs of bottled water and conveyed them to our outlet.
It was a very busy morning, and the staff on duty had a rather though time attending to the influx of customers. When they had all finally left however, I took over her seat to update the inventory on our Retail System with the new supply while Fatima*( the duty staff) took a stroll out.
(Again, please notice how I joggled with and switched between roles: Procurement personnel or Market woman (better put), driver and now a Systems Administrator…lolzzzz… It is a fact that one is compelled to be multi-talented when building something great from the very scratch, and on a very lean budget too.)
…in line with the golden rule to never say NO to a customer but rather offer alternatives, (and in our case even when the options don’t match or make much sense)… I offered another brand of water
Suddenly, I was left alone, and the hitherto busy environment suddenly became very dry. We did not have any security man at that time because there was no need for one. Such a commendable cost saving initiative!
Then came these two gentlemanly ‘customers’ on an okada.
“Eva Water” one of them called out rather rudely.
However, I was too much engrossed with the inventory update to notice his rudeness and I promptly informed him that we did not have that particular brand in supply because our supplier had failed to complete an order.
Then in line with the golden rule to never say NO to a customer but rather offer alternatives, (and in our case even when the options don’t match or make much sense … Lolllzzzzz)…. I offered another brand of water. Thank goodness they matched well this time.
“So sorry about that sir, but we do have Cascade Water” I offered.
“That will do” he roared as he withdrew to his okada as though to pick some money.
I beckoned at the little girl who had accompanied me to the market to help bring a pack of Cascade Water from the stack while I continued with the system update.
Of course, this got the girl and me alarmed: I abandoned the system to casually make for the door in a single stride, but was rudely cut short half way by the sight of a small metal pistol pointing at me.
You don’t need to guess. It was a robbery attack. We were robbed, and the guys made away with some money, a laptop, my blackberry phone, my PDA, wedding rings and other items.
It was a very smooth operation, and in less than ten minutes, they were done and gone locking us in.
Afterwards, some people wondered rather ignorantly as to whether the gun was real and loaded.
It was a real metal pistol for sure, but who would be foolish enough to want to find out whether or not it was loaded for real? Definitely not me… Lollzzzz…
I testified to God’s goodness and protection and I was indeed grateful for the fact we escaped that incident unhurt.
Besides, the business did not feel any loss or financial impact of the robbery candidly. As a matter of fact, God replenished us outrageously by raising men to give much more than what was stolen.
Therefore, save for the loss of some data on my laptop and PDA, there was actually much profit and no loss at all… So much profit that one could even wish to be robbed if only to generate such an influx of kind gestures and reactions. God is indeed faithful and people can be unbelievably and extremely kind!
…one is compelled to be multi-talented when building something great from the very scratch, and on a very lean budget
The data loss however was painful. It happened majorly because as at that time, at barely five months old in business, I wasn’t settled enough with the unexpected and rather strange demands of multitasking I was suddenly exposed to.
Having worked in organized environments where virtually everything worked all my work-life, I wasn’t prepared for the ups-and-downs of self employment and was too disorganized sort of (trying to catch up with the dizzying pace of things) to engage in regular routines like data back up.
I hadn’t settled down to any sane mode of operation then; I was still just fire fighting and trying hard to locate sanity in the midst of the madness.Thank God my iPad wasn’t with me on that occasion as I would have lost too much data to get back up and running almost immediately.
However, lesson learned: things like that shouldn’t happen to an IT Personnel like me. I subscribed to a back solution using the cloud technology with automatic alacrity!
And of course, we employed a security guard pronto!
The ugly effect of the occurrence however was that it birthed in me so strong a fear and paranoia that every customer, no matter how well groomed they looked became a robbery suspect. Especially when they requested for water.
‘Eva Water’ in particular.
On one occasion, a customer was unfortunate enough to direct the request for Eva Water at me while the staff on duty looked on.
“We don’t have any left!” I blurted out without thinking and my staff’s jaw dropped.
The guy looked at me quizzically and said, “aren’t those bottles of Eva Water behind you?” Pointing at the transparent chiller standing right behind me.
I made no response, feeling very foolish. My staff came to my rescue and arrested the situation. But boy, it was that bad.
I practically abandoned my outlet for months. Working from there became a torture to my psyche and my staff just couldn’t understand how I who would preach so well about divine protection could live with so much fear. while I thanked God none of them witnessed the incidence which had birthed such great fears in me, else who knows, maybe we would have had to shut down production completely for some few months.
The staff however had there own share of all manners of robbery and scam attempts… Though not in the magnitude of the open confrontation I experienced.
In any case, some were duped, swindled, scamed, robbed, 419ed in very quick succession. Really, it was as if all hell was let lose considering the number of desperate attempts we encountered in 2012. Hence, that year was a constant physical and spiritual battle with fear.
The Final Straw:
I kept asking God why but never got any answers until some months later when I had this final encounter. It happened in December and this one made me practically jump out of my skin.
Hmmm, really, my eyes have seen things in this Lagos… Lolllzzz…
I’d better break the story into two before I begin to bore you. I will give you the remaining part of the gist before year end or early in the new year. Please watch out for the post entitled Describing Fear (2): The Day I Jumped Out of my Skin.
Do enjoy the rest of your holidays and stay blessed!
Funmi Adebayo (c) 2013
*Not real name