He came to the United States fresh out of secondary school.
He had dreams of being a doctor.
So he started driving a taxi to pay his bills, saved for school and aid in the regularization of his papers.
He got his first degree in Chemistry.
And began working towards medical school.
But first he needed to fix his papers.
An expensive arranged marriage and a divorce.
And he became a citizen.
It was then that the amount of weight he had gained doing the doughnut heavy, long hours laden, quasi-sedentary job of taxi driving began to take its toll.
But because he didn’t have medical insurance he didn’t go to the hospital to check out the reason for the health complaints that had become a near daily occurrence.
And it was only when he had a black out while sitting behind the wheels in traffic and was rushed to the hospital that the diagnosis came in.
The doctor warned him.
Change your lifestyle.
Stop smoking. Loose weight. Reduce stress. Sleep regularly. Reduce sugar. Eat right. Always take your insulin shots.
But the episode instilled fear in him.
He felt he was on a clock that was counting down.
So he promptly forgot about medical school, bought a house and sent word to his mother in Nigeria.
“Find me a wife.”
Starting a family was all that was on his mind.
And they found one for him.
An 18 year old girl at the Federal polytechnic at Nekede.
He travelled to Nigeria.
To her village in Anambra state.
And married her three days after first meeting her.
He consummated the marriage that night.
A virgin she was as he had requested.
He was pleased by the speed she learnt and her eagerness to please.
And he pounded her everynight for the 2 months he was in Nigeria.
By the time he left Nigeria, she was pregnant.
Her stomach was bulging when she arrived the United States seven months later.
And when she gave birth two months later.
It was a boy.
But he wanted more for her than just having children.
So once the boy turned one.
He told his wife to enroll in a university while he took care of the baby while driving his taxi.
And four years later.
She had a degree in Microbiology.
He wanted her to go on to medical school.
So he kept raising the boy and driving his taxi.
It greyed his hair more and the stress affected his health adversely even though she could bring,
But he soldiered on.
She finished medical school.
And then did a four years residency in obstetrics and gynecology.
The joy was overflowing when she was finally done.
And a party was thrown to celebrate her success.
At the party she stood in front of her husband and said.
“… when they told me that they had found a husband for me in America, I cried for days. I thought my life had ended even before it began. I who dreamed of being something in life was going to become nothing. I begged my parents not to allow the wedding go on but they said we were too poor to pass over a life changing opportunity. They said going to America will not only change my life but change the lives of the family. So I surrendered to the hand of fate and prayed that God shows me mercy. And not only did he show me mercy, he instead sent me an angel. A man who uplifted, inspired, empowered and loves me witn everything in his being. I cannot be what I have become if he hasn’t been what he is. And in the presence of God and man, I want to thank you with everything in me and promise you that as long as I live you will not regret for a second all you have sown in my life. I love you so much.”
Then she walked to him and hugged him.
It was tight and long.
And there were tears.
That evening as they drove back home in the family car, with his wife riding shotgun and his son sitting behind, he suffered another blackout.
The car swerved and his wife and son screamed as she fought to gain control of the car.
It collided head on with an incoming SUV.
When the ambulance and the police cars left the scene of the accident.
There were two people in body bags.
The wife and the son.
It has been seven years since that fateful day.
And the man still grief stricken and guilt ridden but taking better care of his health speaks about the dangers of obesity to everyone who dares listen as he lives off the pay out of the life insurance policies of his late wife and son.
He said to me.
Eyes staring through me at an unseen image faraway.
“There is nothing to this life. Just pray that the Lord shows you mercy and shines it’s favour on you because it is not by your power you succeed but because He chose you to succeed. So don’t take this life too seriously, just do what you can to keep yourself healthy, happy, and hopeful that is the only thing you can do for yourself. The rest is not in your power. You truly cannot outsmart life.”
- August 2018