Yesterday I was told the most peculiar story by the Oluwo (a chief title for an accomplished Babalawo) at our compound. There is so much to know in this world, this is why I always refer to myself as forever a student, we all are and we all should know this. I forgot how the conversation began, but if I had my laptop with me, I would have pulled it out and began typing every word and posted it up for you all to read. I have always liked sharing, from I was a small girl growing up in my beautiful Jamaica.
But what I do remember was asking him how old was his Oluwo when he made his transition and he said he was 85 years old. I was surprised because to me leaving at age 85 for a traditionalist is young, most especially Babalawos who tend to live way up into the hundred’s. So I mentioned this to him and told him that my own Oluwo (who he knew and also with whom his father who was also a Babalawo was great friends with) was 130 years old when he died. Yes I know the questions, did you see the birth certificate Obara, are you certain? When he died I asked these very same questions because it meant to me that he initiated me at age 126 years old, and there I was that day thinking that the man was in his seventies! His son and his students told me yes, his birth record verified his age.
My Oluwo laughed and told me that he also had seen the Oluwo’s birth paper and he did die at age 130, but he also went on to tell me that his own grandfather died at age 165. I was astonished at this, which I shouldn’t be, because here in Africa anything is possible, it is like a whole other realm here, what is impossible anywhere else is not impossible here at all! My jaw dramatically dropped to the ground like a cartoon character and he laughed at my reaction with dimpled cheeks, while shaking his head in an affirmative, still chuckling. He saw from my own facial expression that I wanted to hear more, and so he straightened against the wall, tucked his feet beneath him, and prepared to tell me the story of his grandfather and how he made his transition at the incredible age of 165 years old.
I quieted down my mind so that I could take in everything he was about to tell me. The steak dinner that I would cook when I got home that evening, which was on my mind since morning, I had so many plans for it, as I consider my self a gourmet chef, had to leave my thoughts now, and not disturb me as well as the digestive delicious cookies that was shouting out to me from my car parked outside.
He told me that on the day his grandfather was ready to die, he called his father (the Oluwo’s father), and the Oluwo also was present there. The grandfather sat on the ground and he told his son that he was hungry and that he wanted to drink Gari (something made from Cassava). He asked his son to go and buy Gari for him. His son proceeded to call someone from outside to go and buy it, but the grandfather sternly said no, he should go and buy the Garri for him. He did and when he came back, he prepared it and gave it to the grandfather. After which, the grandfather (who was a smoker all his life), removed a cigarette from his pocket, lit it, and inhaled deeply. He then took a shot of Schnapps. After eating, smoking, and taking a shot, he leaned back against the wall and sighed.
He looked at his son and his grandson and said “Today is the day.” He told them that within 30 minutes to an hour time, he will be leaving them. He said God had called him back and it was time for him to go home. His son was incredulous at this revelation and shouted to him in Yoruba, “No, please don’t go.” The Oluwo said tears fell in plops from the son’s eyes as he begged his father not to go. But the grandfather gripped his son’s hands and told him not to cry, don’t shed any tears. He was 165 years old and he had other work to do, other places to be, and that he knew that his son didn’t have any money now to bury him, but the son should give him 1 hour after he has passed. After this hour has passed, do not announce that he has gone. Wait until the hour passes and then he, the grandfather, will gather all the money his son would need to bury him.
He said he would make sure that the son received what he needed. He also instructed his son not to raise an alarm because there was nothing wrong with him. He was not ill. He was just choosing to release life this particular day, and this was a call from God for him to come home.
The son begged, but the father just calmed him and proceeded to lie down. It took exactly 1 hour after he lied down, that his breath left him peacefully.
The son did as his father instructed and waited exactly 1 hour. During these times, there were not much phones available in the village so he had to go out to tell relevant people that his father had just passed on. The moment he began to spread the word, all the villagers came with contributions, and a lot of it. Money was coming from left, right, and centre, just as the old man had promised.
All was silent around me as I listened to the story. There were birds chirping outside, I’m sure, noise of nature was loud, but I heard nothing. Because as he told the story, I found myself in the village sitting before the old man, the son, and the grandson, watching what was about to happen, transfixed and amazed. While driving home yesterday evening, I thought to myself what would I name this post? Because I was certain I would write this story for you all to read, and the title I had settled on was We do not have to die until we are ready. This I know for sure. But most people are not aware of the fact that it is to our choosing how we live our lives, and also to our choosing how and when we exit this world.
This all has to do with the power of our minds, our mental development, belief, our intention towards others and to ourselves, and of course, knowledge acquired and shared. This is not the first story that I have heard such as this, but never at this age of 165. I wanted to share this story 1 because it was a beautiful story to me, 2 to show the beauty of life, and 3 because of the beauty in the transition of the spirit from the physical. There is indeed beauty within everything, it’s only a matter of perspective….