It was one of those days. I have just come back from yet again another fiasco on a job hunt. This particular fiasco left me downcast and beaten. I had so much hope this job hunt could be it and when it flopped again, I just felt completely discouraged. I wasn’t getting any younger and I was slowly climbing the ranks of CEO of the unemployment company aka Chomecam.
I sat dejectedly at a corner in my sister’s house where I was spending a few weeks. Normally, I am always with a smile on my face and always quick to play with my nieces and nephews. It was quite easy for them to pick out something was amiss when they came back from school and dashed into my room eager to fill me in on the events of the day as they usually did.
This time, aunty was not listening nor was she even smiling. ‘Are you sick?’ They asked and I said no. ‘What is wrong with you today why are you not smiling?’ The interrogation continued. And I went ‘nothing you all should just let me be for a while I wish to be alone’. They left casting side glances at me.
Unbeknownst to me, they have gone and deliberated on how best they could get me out of my gloom and so in this our Jacoblike clan, they sent my Joseph to find out what may have happened to leave me so dejected.
After probing for a while, she managed to get the fact that I just missed another job opportunity. They understood just how much I needed a job especially as I have been searching for years. When this Joseph of mine got the tip of this new development, she went back to relay what has transpired and to join in the brainstorming session taking place on my behalf... the operation ‘Get Aunty Arrey smiling again’.
And so, five determined soldiers marched into my room, armed with a portable DVD player and a cartoon disk. They knew I enjoyed cartoons too so there was nothing to do but pretend to enjoy the show with them. Funny thing is, I really do not remember the title of that cartoon or the name of the character these soldiers of mine felt can be used as a big moral boost to me.
What a morale boost it was!! At the end of the show, I was reminded in no uncertain terms by five determined voices to KEEP PRESSING FORWARD. And I go huh? The Commander-in-chief of these my special soldiers my then 11-year-old niece told me these words... ‘We know how much you want a job and we know it is not easy. But just like the character in this cartoon who never gave up, we also want you not to give up remember what his friend told him after each failure? ... Keep pressing forward ...’ So we want you to keep pressing forward. One day your job will come have you heard?’
‘Yes Ma’am’ I said
‘Good’ Five voices chorused.
I was so overwhelmed by these sincere words. By this show of understanding and wisdom way beyond their age and all I could think was the words of this biblical phrase... ‘Out of the mouth of babies’... yes, out of the mouth of babies, wisdom sprouted forth and helped me pull myself back from the near abyss of depression I was almost sinking into.
From that moment onwards, each time I faced a difficult and depressing situation, I hear the echo of five tiny voices telling me to keep pressing forward.
In a world and especially a culture which pays scant attention to children, most especially the girl child; it was a heady feeling that I, a then thirty something years old could take to heart seriously, the words of an 11-year-old girl. In a culture which strictly believes children should be seen and not heard, each time I think about this incident, I wonder just how much of a generational gap can be closed and how much potential can be tapped from these young, observant and inquisitive humans if we could stop treating them as inconsequential brats who can only spout nonsense?
I know sometimes kids utter gibberish. But from my experience, I also know what we as adults consider gibberish is actually childish wisdom our adult minds are reluctant or slow to process. This incident taught me a valuable lesson. I should never underestimate the words of a child and most especially those of a girl child because their words can also sometimes be life savers or eye openers. I have also tried hard to bridge the generational gaps in conversations between young people and most especially, encourage girls to speak their minds and pursue their dreams even in the face of insurmountable challenges.
Yes, out of the mouth of babies, I rediscovered hope and my drive to keep pressing forward were restored.