Written 19/11/2012, 1st published on ParadigmShiftNG
So last Sunday I woke up with this intense yearning for jollof rice. It reminded me of one other Sunday like that back in Bayelsa during my Youth Service days. I’ll tell you the story. Twas a bright and glorious Sunday morning and I simply couldn’t find the N50 I was to use for a bike to church so I decided to cook jollof rice instead. I was broke as glass but at least I had the standard ingredients so I got to work. Midway through the cooking I got a call from a fellow Corper who ‘was just around my side and was just checking to see if I was around’. Now, if you’ve endured proper NYSC (not the ajebota fixed type) you’d know that that’s Corper-speak for “Babe, u get food 4 dat ur house so?” So I said, “yeah, come over, I’m even cooking sef”.
Now, for some background gist. This was like the latter half of the NYSC year and the well-meaning public had been drumming in our ears that we had better come back home with two certificates – one in paper form and one in man form, and this corper was a nice, handsome young man with a not-so-terrible job and some really good prospects, so the plan was to wow him with this my perfectly cooked jollof rice and hopefully get him to take the toasting to the next level. Of course, am still single today so we know how that turned out.
Now, back to the gist. So our jollof rice was almost done and I was just waiting for the water to dry when I heard the knock. I arranged my hair, sprayed some deo and opened the door with a smile. The young man stepped in and with a big grin said “this egusi you’re cooking smells great!”
Anyway, I gave him the dirtiest look I could muster, said “Its jollof rice” and was about to launch into some proper Bayelsan name calling when he stopped me cold by saying “hey it’s not my fault, now, I CAN ONLY JUDGE BY WHAT I PERCEIVE!”. Granted, my pride was too hurt by that time to admit he’d made a valid point or to share my jollof rice with him and I sent him home after a glass of water and awkward silence but 3 years later (yes, I’m that old), I still remember his line about only being able to judge by perception.
See, eh, we can shout “I love you” or “I’m a nice person” all we want, but in the end people can only form their opinions about us based on our actual actions. We can’t repeatedly hurt friends/family and expect them to just know that the friendship/relationship is important to us. In the end the way they relate to us in return will only be based on their perceptions of our actions, not on our thoughts. So if you care about someone or appreciate someone show it, don’t think it, or they’ll probably never know it. If you are a Christian and your foundation is love for God and your neighbour then act it, don’t post it on your Facebook wall and go on your merry way. And if you are a Nigerian that believes Nigerians are basically good people then behave properly wherever you are because the world can only judge us by their perceptions which, at the moment, are not very flattering.
Or maybe we just know we have so much potential, and have so much to offer and if given the chance we can do big things! But then we are still sitting put waiting for someone to discover said potential and drag it out of us. If they can’t see the potential why should they give us the chance? I mean, if the guy had seen the jollof rice there on the table he wouldn’t have embarrassed himself (not me) by calling it egusi. So if we are going to be given chances we need to be perceived as people who would do something tangible with said chances. For someone as quiet as myself (no, seriously) it’s been the most difficult thing to learn to speak up at work meetings and put myself forward for new roles. But then it’s hit me that no one would realize that I’m not exactly the office dunce and that I’m capable of actually doing a few things if I don’t put myself forward and voice my ideas. It’s been scary as hell, and I’ve still gone to bed many nights with ideas still in my head, but the few times I’ve stepped up it it’s been the best experience.
It’s been ages since I wrote anything last and this had been on my mind for a bit so I just thought to put it down. Hope it’s made some sense to someone. By the way, minus the egusi aroma that jollof rice turned out to be the best ever! If the man hadn’t been in such a rush to talk he’d have had Sunday rice that day and who knows, maybe even a beautiful wife too today, and that is why we must always think before we speak. But that is the moral of another story.
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