A GLOBES’ WORTH – Written by Ikenna Aniagboso
What is the worth of a globe – a lantern’s globe?
What is the cost or better still, the value or importance of a simple, ordinary globe?
Before the millennium and the advent of rechargeable LCD lamps and of course, given the epileptic nature of electric power supply, kerosene lanterns were an essential part of almost every home in our country, Nigeria. ‘Feuer hand’ and later ‘Eleganza’ were the popular brands then.
The globe is a very important component of a lantern. It keeps the wind away and helps to radiate the light from the wick. A component many mispronounced – ‘glove’.
It was part of my chores, as a child, to wash and clean the globe when it is stained by soot. I really can’t remember now, how many times I broke a globe in the cleaning process. What is still fresh in my memory, however, was the chastisement I received whenever I broke a globe.
Many folks who grew up in average homes can relate easily to this.
The chastisements often made me ponder on the value of the glassy globe especially when, in all innocence, the intention was just only to clean it up.
The essence of this story however, is not about the chastisements nor is it about the cost of a globe. It is rather about how a globe touched the life of a boy, changed his destiny and propelled him to become a great man.
His name was Mmadu.
It was almost dark when Mmadu arrived his grandmother, Nne Ochie’s hut in the village. The school term at Onitsha, where he lived with his family had ended and his holiday destination, as always, was Nne Ochie’s hut.
Nne Ochie was old but at heart, she was strong. She was also a vibrant business woman. She had a shop by her hut and her clientele included the hardworking labourers who bought the very soft but filling locally baked bread popularly known as ‘Mgbadume’ and of course, her contemporaries, most bended over by age, who gathered at her shop at dusk to chat and purchase snuff.
They never missed a night; always walking gingerly – a stick in one hand and a lantern in the other to light the way.
Mmadu would always sit at Nne Ochie’s shop, attending to customers, both old and young. He was always kind to the elderly and nice to the young. And often, after he had done his chores, he would sit by the old folks as they chatted into the night, cleaning the stained globes of their lanterns.
So, it was no surprise that Mmadu was welcomed with glee as he arrived Nne Ochie’s hut for yet another holiday.
He only had a nights’ rest, for at dawn, he was up and about, helping Nne Ochie as he had always done. But Mmadu never knew that ahead of him, lay a challenge that would change his life for good.
The day was no different from the others and the night was even more similar. The young had left the elderly to their nightly chit chats and habitual snuff taking.
Mmadu was sitting by Nne Ochie, cleaning the globes of the elderly folk’s lanterns one after another. Suddenly, as was often my experience, a globe slipped from his grip and shattered to irredeemable fragments.
What followed is best left to your imagination.
The night was a long one for Mmadu. His young heart was deeply troubled. He could not understand how, within just split seconds, he turned from hero to villain.
The pain from the knocks on his head, the wringing of his ear and the bitter words that spewed from same mouths that hitherto praised him, hurt him deeply. But it was nothing compared to the sinking feeling in his heart, as the cry of the old woman, whose globe he had broken, reechoed within him.
She had been quiet all along, absorbing the shock in the midst of the pandemonium occasioned by the the broken globe. She began wailing just as the elderly folks hobbled home, one after another, leaving her alone in the dark night.
“Oh! I wish the boy didn’t touch my lantern. My dirty globe would have been safe”, she wailed as Nne Ochie escorted her home with young Mmadu tagging behind, sorrowfully.
As he lay ruminating, haunting and dreary thoughts kept him awake. The dim lamp illuminated light but all he could see was emptiness.
Over and over, he pondered, his young mind wandering in the hazy and ominous confusion that overwhelmed him.
His heart palpitated with fear as dawn approached but as the cock crowed, so came light; the such that men pray and crave for.
Young Mmadu sprang up like a gazelle and sprinted out of the hut. The fire in his heart was an inferno and the light, so bright. The overwhelming darkness had been lifted and he could see the solution, an escape route, a way to pacify and make amends and to ultimately, redeem himself. He just couldn’t wait.
So on and on he ran, till he got to the village bakery where the popular ‘Mgbadume’ was baked and with zeal, he struck a bargain.
Mmadu had asked the baker to sell the bread to him on credit and trust him to return the capital as soon as he was done selling while he would keep the profit for himself.
The young lad was known in the entire village for his truthfulness and sincerity, yet the baker was not convinced. He wondered at what drove the young boy, so early, to ask for such a bargain.
Mmadu, however, persisted. He pushed relentlessly and refused to give up. The poor baker eventually caved in and accepted. Mmadu had unwittingly honed a skill he never knew he had. It was his first business bargain and the first of many successful ones he made later in life.
So Mmadu took off with his wares. He sold them off and returned for more. Again and again he went, selling off more before the sun rose in its full glory. He returned the cost of the bread to the baker and smiled away with the profit.
And so, Mmadu walked home fulfilled, to a happy and grateful Nne Ochie, with a pocket full of money and a brand new globe in his hand.
Nne Ochie was proud of her grandson after she heard his story. She had blamed herself for being too harsh on the boy thinking he had ran away from home. She was however over joyed to learn that the little boy had taken up the responsibility of replacing the broken globe.
So, Nne Ochie led Mmadu to the old woman’s hut to present the globe. Can you imagine how happy she was? She was the proud owner of a brand new globe. She danced around young Mmadu and shed tears of joy over him. She prayed for him and blessed him with deep and solemn words. Her joy was boundless and thence lay the globes’ worth.
Mmadu’s life never remained same again. The blessings of Nne Ochie and the old woman manifested all through his life. His perception and understanding had also changed. He had turned around a sad incident and a gloomy night to a morning of boundless joy, by sheer ingenuity and hardwork. His acumen remained sharp and he never lost focus.
He never broke anything again and nothing remained broken that he met. Little wonder he grew to become very successful and today, a Governor.
His name is William MMADUaburochukwu Obiano.