In the heart of Yenchira, a village of my own, there rooted a big ancient bent tree with irregular shape at the center of the market square. The tree had an immeasurable trunk which carried widespread-branches. Most of the youth meetings were held under this tree. Many people including me received fresh air under the mercy of this tree. According to the custodians of the land, the tree lived before Yenchira was born. Baba Gyda; the wise old man in the village affirmed to me one day that his grandfather told him the tree lived even before he was born. I was caught into the cage of my imagination. I imagined what actually could be the magic behind the longevity of this tree. Mystery was the only voice that was murmuring into my head anytime I spotted this tree.
Growing up as a young boy, my veins were occupied with the blood of curiosity. I was always nosy about things of such great history and Baba Gyda was always there to untie the difficult ropes for me. One afternoon, I traveled to the old mans hut which was isolated from the houses of Yenchira. He quickly mentioned my name immediately he saw me,
“Yakubu! Are you here to ask me questions as usual?”
“Hahaha! I am here to check on you, Baba.” I giggled and responded.
“Then what have you brought for the old man?” He asked in a more jocund manner.
“I brought you life, Baba.” I responded swiftly and we both busted into laughter.
We sat for some minutes laughing and entertaining ourselves when I quickly changed our discussion. I engaged in the old man’s brain with a question which was about the big ancient tree but I sort permission from him before asking.
I asked Baba, “Please, wise one, have you ever bothered to ask yourself why the big ancient tree at the center of the market square grew to live that long and yet still producing green leaves?” The old man giggled uncontrollably and stared at me like a hungry lioness angry with her cub. He got up from his three-legged stool and ‘taata’ himself into his ‘naakuuk’ (sacred small hut) without a word. My heart was filled with terror and I began to ask myself whether I have angered the old man or the gods of the land with that question. But within a short fleeted time, Baba Gyda called me to join him in his ‘naakuuk’. I did not hesitate; I smiled and slipped inside. He sat me down and said, “a stranger that asks questions never goes astray: my grandchild, youre a stranger in this world and asking such a critical question means you want to know about what is buried inside life.” I asked him to untie that riddle because I was at sea. He further said to me, “the tree that stands straight is on the roof of our buildings but a tree thats bent still rooted strongly.” This time round I was totally confused but he told me to leave him alone. I sighed with heavy heart and left him alone in his ‘naakuuk’.
Night fell in the village of Yenchira, folks were playing under the bright smiling moon but I was seated quietly, trying to loosen all what the wise old man had said about my quest. “The tree that stands straight is on the roof of our buildings but a tree thats bent still rooted strongly.” I recalled. The following morning, I welcomed Baba Gyda at his hut with the same confused face and he sat me down again and said to me slowly in his low voice, “That big ancient tree lived to that age because it has irregular shape and cannot be divided for woods by chain saw operators.” I was like wow! This is very interesting. He continued, “chain saw operators find delight in falling down trees that are not structurally bent but never open their eyes to see trees like that big tree at the market square; its structure will never please the chain saw operator to fall it and that’s why it still survives with green leaves.” Coldness enwrapped me wholly because the old man opened my brain with his words of wisdom that morning. I further asked him, “so Baba, what is the interpretation of what you’ve said about this tree to our social life?” I opened my ears widely like an elephant’s to hear more of his wisdom. He said to me, “to please all is to decrease your life span on earth. Sometimes you have to bend your life in order to remain unhurt and hence live long like that big ancient tree.” I was glad and grateful for his wisdom he shared with me that morning. I thanked him and quickly rushed home to heat my ‘saakpel’ (old TZ).