Sometimes in July this year, I was violently woken up by eight gunmen right in my bedroom. Till today I do not know how they got into my house and my bedroom as there was no forced entry. I hardly heard anything until I saw young, agile Nigerian men wielding guns, knives, and machetes; asking me to lead them to money I did not have. I wonder who does honest business in Nigeria today and keeps huge sums of money at home.
Their coming this July made it the third time I had been robbed in that particular house. Within 10-15 minutes, I was dispossessed of several valuables - my jewelries, laptops, phones and the little cash I had on me. Everyone in my home was tied up in their different rooms and was left to fate. I was naturally traumatized and depressed and it took me days if not weeks to get myself together. This culminated in having to look for an alternative accommodation as I felt no longer safe in that environment. It is not so much of the things stolen, it is being violated in one's own home, one's very private, personal space, one's sanctuary, by unscrupulous individuals who have resigned to criminality.
And in all of these, I asked myself these;
1. How come we do not have an emergency number - 911, 119? Quick and effective numbers that anyone can call quickly in the face of grave danger?
2. Yes, police came (even military personnel), neighbourhood security men, in the dead of the night but they were all 10 minutes behind those thieves. How pathetic! When would Nigerian police make these urgent trips on time?
3. When I was growing up and bad things happen in the neighbourhood, neighbours came out and helped and made things very difficult for the robbers. There were some heroic acts which saved lives and properties. Nowadays, life has taken a different turn; while my ordeal lasted, neighbours apparently were busy protecting themselves and securing their houses. While I do not expect them to come out in the face of danger, the preoccupation should not solely be on protecting yourself and your family alone. We should still be our brother's keeper. When did we become like this as a people?
4. Since the robbers literally walked into my house, I would expect the Nigerian police, to investigate how random people that I know I have never met in my life gained entry into my house without breaking doors. These are mysteries that should be thoroughly investigated to prevent further reoccurrence but I know nothing is done in these cases unless one is a VIP. Sad!
So many questions and no answers, but I hold on to the lessons learnt and have added that ace up my ankara sleeve.
1. We are only here by the special grace of Almighty Allah and the difference between being alive and death is only one split, minuscule second. No one is immune, we are here today but do not know when or how our life trajectory could change. There is a need to make every second, every minute, and every day count.
2. They stole ALL the gold jewelries I had as a woman, and yes I invested in a lot of gold, but they could not steal my dreams, ambition, vision and values. So invariably, the gold will be sold and some money made, but my dreams, hope, and sense of being are still intact; I water and refresh it each day. In short, the most important things are left behind.
3. My most prized physical assets - Qur’an, prayer books, certificates, my library of biographies and autobiographies, pictures and mementos were nicely left behind even after ransacking the whole house and coming in contact with these things severally. What is taken is what gives quick cash; vital emotional assets that could be irreplaceable mean nothing. Thank God.
4. I was very comfortable in the house I lived, comfortable to stay on after the first and second robbery attacks. I didn't think there was anything better anywhere. It was a cool, lovely house with everything I wanted; but my new house provided much better features with better security and at a reduced price and even closer to my office. I am enjoying a new environment, new gadgets and generally a better quality of life. Alhamdulillah. Sometimes we get unnecessarily comfortable in complacency; we never really know that there could be something better, fancier and more valuable out there.
5. Finally, it dawned on me loudly that there will hardly be peace and safety for anyone in this country until the youths are gainfully employed. In all of my armed robbery cases, they were young Nigerian men that could be somewhere putting the geniuses inherent in them to good use and providing solutions to our myriad of problems as a society but they could not think of anything beyond criminality. Truly sad.
They say when life gives you lemons, you either squeeze it in people's eyes or make lemonades out of it. I chose the latter. Keep safe, play safe and keep reciting Ayatul Qursiyy amongst other ayahs ALL THE TIME. I pray no one experience evil.
Salam alaikum waramatulahi wabarakatu.