Ayisha Abdallah asks, ‘Ever held the hands of the sick, the old, bedridden or dying person?

Opinions Old people need love and care

Wed, 20 Oct 2021 Source: Inusah Mohammed

Last week Wednesday, I made a post on Facebook post to inform friends and followers about my personal anniversary of me getting my work published in the highly-reputed Business and Financial Times. It is a story that inspired a gale of comments and interactions. This is what I wrote.

“Two weeks after I got kicked out by my family and found myself in the streets, nowhere to lay my head and got saved by a friend, I got an official job offer from CFAO Ghana Limited. And I got assigned to be a Service Advisor at the company’s Express Service to ensure quick vehicle servicing and timeous delivery of them to customers.

As the first point of contact when customers come in, I did a lot of interactions with drivers of big men and big companies in town, big men who drive their own cars and a lot of diplomats. One day, Latif Bogobiri, a Salesman with the Business and Financial Times came in and during interaction reminded me that he had still not received my write-up (I had met him earlier in the year same place and discussed how I write very well and want my articles to get published and he said I should write and send). So, I decided to send him an interaction I had with the great Professor Wole Soyinka. This piece went viral and the feedback was solid. I started sending articles week-in week-out. And it’s a year already.

Now the other issue, I kept receiving plenty of questions (how much do they pay you?) anytime I chased the paper given to the Managing Director just to see if my article got published every Thursday. But my interest was not in the money. My interest was in the fact that I got published.

Now, when I applied for admission into Graduate School in four schools in America last year, I got an admission offer from Kansas State University (without funding) and The University of New Mexico - UNM as an alternate.

Alternate means I am on the waiting list. And this is where the hook comes in. I was down. Emotionally down but it never showed in me. Always vivacious. The constant source of strength were the few friends that I have. From February when I was placed on the waiting list, I kept updating the Departmental Head with my articles published on this great platform and she kept telling me that is wonderful work and great write-ups but still no opening yet. I never stopped sending her my weekly published write-ups. Then in April one day after breaking my fast, I received an email that brought us to where we are now.

Interestingly, this Professor happens to be my instructor in Foundations of Communications Research. Then one day during discussions she asked a research question around Attention Economy and the youth. The class was quiet then out of nowhere she said “Inusah, you have done a lot of youth work. Can you kindly help us? Meaning she followed up and read the published write-ups I kept sending. So, it’s a year since I started publishing in the Business and Financial Times. And I am willing to take it farther, In shaa Allah. Ghetto youth, start writing, please!

This is what I wrote and it generated great interest especially from those who love to write yet do not do. And Ayisha Abdallah, a lady I schooled with and I have known for almost fifteen years now decided to pick up from where she left off in her writing passion. She is one of the very passionate women I have known. Strong and indescribable love for education and youth development. She describes herself as a woman of faith, defender of the oppressed, publicist and above all a diamond in the rough. And this is what she wrote.

Ayisha Abdallah

Ever held the hands of the sick, the old, bedridden or a dying person?

My father was an astute sportsman but none of it showed when he got bedridden for nearly 9 months at the hospital. An accident had left him frail, weak and unable to move most of his limbs without help. When you touched his hands, arms, legs or any part in order to wash or help him move, it felt old, weightless and nearly lifeless. Worse case, his situation ‘smelled’ to me like a pain that had probably come to stay. I was young then, so I never thought or hoped beyond him getting better. So, his death, like many others, shocked the living out of my then 15 years old body. I had to fake tears.

My grandfather, actually my grand uncle, one of my favorite people to live with, was quite the tallest, most energetic and caring man I knew. The cotton softness of his palms, the weakness in his bones and his inability to walk without support always remind me of the memory of him I keep. One of him walking gracefully to me in Senior High school with some foodstuff in hand. Apart from an Aunty, he was the only one who ever came to check up on me in school.

He was and has always been my hero and holding his hands, kneeling and talking to him now, only breaks my heart. His voice is weak, his movement is slow, old age caught up with him while we were not looking. He told me about how he now remembers having felt burdened when he had to take care of his own father in his kind of state, made him feel like he was a terrible son, made me shiver. Life caught up with him while we were unbothered!

My step-grandmother whom I have always known as a beautiful woman lays nearly lifeless. Fair, not tall and not very short with beautiful hair and a great figure. She has been in bed for a while now and can hardly even blink. Touching her, kissing her face, smearing du’as all over her body, made me lose sight of the world in which we live. And this makes me regret all the days I declined eating the TZ she’d cook whenever I visited. As we frantically searched for our purposes in life, we did not see this coming our way.

These days, I like to think that I’m old. At least, old enough because I see my child and I’m reminded of the ages where I only could talk to my mother and aunties by raising my head up. I like to think that I’m old because of my own collection of experiences in life. But even while assuming this, I’m hit by a deep realization of ‘How did I even get here?’ A sober reflection of who I am, what I am, where I’m from, where I'm headed, only brings to mind, for what purpose was I created? If I do not die any time soon, how do I walk hand in hand with life so it doesn’t catch me unguarded?!

I had a teacher who once said that he feared old age more than anything. Mainly because the cycle of creation is that God takes you back to being a child who needs help with feeding, bathing, clothing and general upkeep. To him, his prayer was to grow old but never to a point where he’d be ‘a burden’ unto his family. I have never forgotten this as I have observed that patience, love, empathy and the fear of God are required in caring for the aged, sick and dying persons.

In many parts of the Western World, we’ve seen the emergence of seen retirement homes for the elderly and retired. This is because their families are busy trying to ‘survive life’ and perhaps do not have the time to cater for them. However, in our parts of the world, as we make time to cater for our old, the stress and pressure from their aging is either marked by our suspicion of wickedness, witchcraft and wizardry on the part of these frail and weak groups. We forget that we are likely to be called such names if we manage to live that long and thus far.

As Muhammad Ali has said, “Old age is just a record of one’s whole life”. How well do you live your days?! Do you live them in appreciation of being blessed with that day? Do you live them in glory and with the knowledge that if you do not die any moment soon, you will be happy with a life well lived? And in your hustle and bustles, do you pause and carefully look at your reflection in the mirror and see that you are different from what you were before? A character or personality build up?

That’s your old age catching up with you. If you haven't, take a day and visit any old folk. Any sick person. Pray for them and have them pray for you. Then while at it, love and respect old age because you are aging too and before you know it.

Columnist: Inusah Mohammed