By Udeme Nana
That question is common place in the first month of the year. Nevertheless, that question was definitely not what Ufot Asanga, an economics graduate who chose to become a “foot soldier” to a top politician bargained for last week.
The young man was in a desperate situation. His wife, whom he married two years ago was in the labour room and his hospital bill was a bit too high- too much for him to settle with his savings and he reckoned that since he had a “boss” whom he had served diligently with all his might these past 10 years – that the politician would return the favour readily by supporting him with money to pick up that bill.
That morning, he left his house in high spirit, humming a tune “You are a legend” with the name of his “godfather” in the right place.
He got to the gate and waited patiently. Even being made to wait for four hours while his “boss” was playing a game of “Ludo” with his wife didn’t betray any negative omen. He heard the sound of the dice tinkling when shaken, he heard the man’s voice whenever he got his opponent’s game.
He was cocksure his problem would be solved immediately the man, whom he almost lost his life for during one political outing would come out to see him. The song on his lips continued and got louder whenever the politician grunted or laughed out loudly while at his game. He made sure the man heard his voice. And that is a song which the politician relished like the pot of soup from the kitchen of a typical Efik woman.
Sooner, all his hopes turned into despair and disappeared like a mirage on the road when the politician came out and on listening to the mission of his political manfriday bellowed out to him “Don’t you know this is January?”
That question shook the young man.That question and the manner which the question was thrown caused Mr Asanga instant headache. His blood pressure rose and he became feverish instantly.The song which he sang “you are a legend” ceased immediately and saliva dried up in his throat. Asanga felt like dying, imagining how he would face his wife and the excuse he would give the doctor in the hospital. The young man, a well-built graduate became shell- shocked, distraught and dejected. He lost his gait. For a moment, he stood transfixed, lost for words, wondering in total disbelief about the missile which just hit him frontally.
A lot of people have been victims of that question. A wife, a son, a brother, a friend; a boyfriend or girlfriend and even parents have at one January or the other been the butt of that seemingly harmless question or retort!
Some people put that question depending on the respect they have for the person at the receiving end.They can just say “This is January” and expect the target to understand its import instantly.
A lot of people make that statement using hard, harsh, high, hoarse, rough or a loud pitch which conveys anger or disappointment that anyone could have an expectation requiring non personal expenditure in January. However, reasonable people would use a kinder, calmer or soft tone to convey the same message.
Anyway, in whatever manner it is delivered, the message which the speaker sends out is that January is a difficult time, a-no-show month!
Yes, the trader, the mechanic, the spare parts dealer, the food vendor, civil and public servants, landlords, businessmen and women, children, cousins and nieces; indeed, most people have been victims or have asked that rhetorical question or made that loaded statement at one time or the other in their lifetime in January. This is because the first month of the year is a time when nobody is expected to make “selfish” demands on another no matter the desperate situation in which one is enmeshed.
The month could be described as a be-on-your-own month- a very selfish month. A month for the most selfish people on earth.
The opening month of the year is a long-drawn month. Usually drab, cold and dry! Even the natural elements give the month that ambience because January wears the cloud of the cold harmattan haze which makes it seem like it is the gloomiest month.Some love the weather, some hate it.Some find it a challenge to rise early and embrace the cold but others relish in it.It is a month for lovers because of its kindly weather.
Regardless, it is a month of stocktaking, for planning, goal setting, new resolutions and resolve to do better at work, at one’s business, trade or school by pupils and students alike.
January is a month where folks take time out to sharpen the saw – spiritually and physically. A lot of God worshippers are immersed in either 21 or 40 days fasting programmes to re-dedicate their lives to the Almighty God for good fortunes in the New Year. It is a month where people make to throw out the trash in their lives.
Hardly do burials happen in January- who wants to start a New Year on a gloomy note – and marriages barely take place in January – who has the money needed for the huge expenditure associated with marriage in January. In fact, whoever marries in the month of January should be applauded as a level-headed master planner because, after the festivities and expenses in December, the first month of a new year becomes a month of complaints all over the place.
Happily, January 2020 is drawing to a close and sooner, the serious activities of life would begin while folks wave a deserving goodbye to the expression: “Don’t you know this is January”? or “This is January!”