© Copyright 2018 by Kuti Olutomilayo
If there is one thing I’ve learnt in all the sixteen years I have been alive, it is that life is a gift. Every day we breathe, we walk; we talk and don’t think twice about how we do these things, that is, until it’s all taken away. Here I am in a hospital, listening to the beep of the machine keeping me alive, feeling the pain of the tube down my nostrils helping me breathe and wishing I could just stand up and walk. I’m on the thin line between life and death and only now that I might lose my life, have I realized how precious every second is.
This is the story of my life and like every good story, there is a beginning. The beginning of my life was the end of my mother’s, prematurely born; I came into the world on the eighteenth of June, two thousand and two. At Calgary hospital in Ikeja at exactly eleven forty-five pm, my birth was not celebrated for a life was lost. Seven days later I was named Oreofe, it means “Grace”.
I find it funny how the name of a child usually reflects in their life. You see, I am anything but graceful. I’ve been clumsy for as long as I can remember. Despite the fact that being prematurely born got me a lot of hospital visits, my clumsy nature is the reason I’m popular among the nurses. My aunt who took me in when I was born and raised me –because my dad was a workaholic-said I got my clumsy nature from my mum, who was her sister. My mum isn’t such a sensitive topic for me because my dad is also a great parent, when he’s not on the other side of the world for business.
I never had a problem making friends because they were all my teddies, very exotic one I must add. So you can imagine my horror the day my aunt took me out for ice-cream, only it wasn’t ice-cream it was a classroom filled with children my age. From that day I learnt my first life lesson; “trust no one”. I eventually got used to my new and first human friends and even endured my boring classes.
My primary school life wasn’t so eventful. It was filled with good friends, annoying boys, boring teachers and secret love for mathematics. It was also in primary school that I had my first asthma attack and it was quite a scene. The only event I remember clearly was the day a boy in my class, called Onah, made fun of my nose and told me that it was big. He eventually decided that teasing me was his life calling and he tortured me mercilessly. Onah’s family eventually relocated and I never saw him again. It turned out that after Onah left, people still kept making fun of my nose and life lesson two was learnt; ”I have to accept myself for who I am”.
Despite being the social butterfly that I was, when I got to secondary school I found it hard to make friends. Let me add that I was shipped off to a boarding school called Chrisland College because my aunt got married and her husband wasn’t keen on having a teenager in his house (my dad even agreed)and thus life lesson three; “the only person that loves me is me”.
I eventually made a whole lot of friends in secondary school, but I had my inner circle, my closest friends and the one thing we had in common was our infatuations for one boy. His name was Arinze and he was every girl’s dream. We didn’t mind the fact that he was obnoxious and rude. We just wanted him to notice us. I never really talked to him, we only shared a few words when he needed my answers in a mathematics test as I was the best student in the subject. Suddenly when I turned fifteen, Arinze noticed me for the first time.
The beginning of my senior school marked the end of my reputation as a good girl. I became Arinze’s girl, “the good girl gone bad” was what my teachers called me. I didn’t notice what I was doing to myself because I had everything I wanted. I was popular and had the boy of my dreams. Till this day, I believe my mum looked down on me from heaven because I eventually snapped back into reality and realized the mess I was in. My grades dropped, my friends didn’t want to associate with me anymore and aunt didn’t want to be around me. I decided to get my life back together and one of my friend who didn’t give up on me helped me get on my feet again and as for Arinze he’s still the same but he’s in the past now. I learnt my fourth life lesson that year: “true friends are real but rare”.
Towards my sixteenth birthday, I realized that my life was all about me, I never gave to charity and never really cared about anyone but myself. I got everything I wanted from my dad and didn’t think about anyone else. I had never even told my aunt “thank you” for everything she had done for me and life lesson five was learnt; “I’m not the only one in the world”.
These all led to today, the day I sat down to write this story. After I realized that the world did not revolve around me, I decided to visit a hospital to read books to and play games with sick children who don’t get to see their family members often and thus the beginning of my story:
I’m in the hospital, listening to the beep of the machine keeping me alive because I’m teaching the children how to use a stethoscope, feeling the pain of the tube down my nostrils helping me breathe because I had to go for a checkup on the same day for my asthma, wishing I could just stand up and walk because there is a little girl who is quite heavy sitting on my lap. I’m on the thin line between life and death because I’m playing a really intense game of the board game called “life or death” with the kids in their ward, and only now that I might lose my life because I’m losing at the game woefully, have I realized how precious every second is. So that’s it, that’s the story of the life I’ve lived so far and the newest life lesson which I learnt today is that “life is a gift”.