Tobi is an handsome, quiet, fair-complexioned, seventeen year old boy. He has a very attractive demeanour and I met him just a week back, before the Easter celebrations. I fell almost immediately in love with the young man and gave him a nick. I called him “UP-NEPA” the very first day I had contact with him. This nick was inspired by his complexion. I think I should let you know that the nick stuck. His friends found that better than the initial nick they had given him, Alabi-yellow.
On the surface, Tobi seemed to be extremely timid and quite reluctant to talk…but getting to talk to him, I discovered he was very intelligent, highly focused and friendly.
Tobi is sickle cell anaemic and I think I simply felt all the pains he must have gone through at the rush of the moment. I feel that’s because I know what it is like. He walks with a slight limp but doesn’t let that sway him. I think Tobi got the limp from a serious AVN crisis he had sometimes back.
I got talking with him on a personal level the second time we saw and he told me he was the first of three children. Tobi is the only one with sickle cell in his family of five. I engaged him a little more and I discovered some more truths about him. He hasn’t thought of suicide unlike me. *smiles* He doesn’t have friends who discriminate against him due to his health challenge. He doesn’t skip his daily drugs too. You know, I get pretty naughty with that occasionally but I know its not right. Tobi also believes in God, and recognises him to be the only true source of his strength.
I’m passionate about sharing Tobi’s story because through him God has given me a new vigour as a warrior and taught me over and again that real strength doesn’t lie in the physique or outer life of any man. It’s something that flows from within and keeps one running like, “Let tomorrow come with its troubles and challenges, and I’ll still be here standing strong”.
It’s really important to note that true strength has its source in God.
For everyone that reads Tobi’s story today, I want you to spare some time to pray for him and for others in similar conditions that God will raise their hopes and give them courage to keep standing strong.
Tobi is about to write his O’level examinations and he’s gonna need all the physical stamina combined with the special intelligence God has granted him already.
I remember writing my final examinations at the secondary level in serious pains. I had a severe bone pain crisis with tenderness at major parts of my legs. I was so ill that I could easily be pushed to the floor by a ply of tissue paper. You could imagine how sick I was. It really was a terrible period in my life… I practically had to be helped in the bathe, dressed, aided in my study by my parents and siblings. In fact, they had to read my notes and textbooks to me and just hope for the best. I was been treated specially by WAEC officials, they allowed my teachers pad my back with pillows to make me quite comfortable, they gave me extra time to finish up my papers even when it seemed pointless, they allowed me to be treated with analgesics and cream relievers in the hall and all that was really irritating then…it’s only now that I’m grateful for it. Perhaps, they could have discouraged my parents and teachers and told them to take a form the following year. Because, from the human sense, there was just no way I could excel writing my papers amidst such aches and tears. My mouth was often smelling of drugs and my body had the odour of menthol from the frequent usage of cream relievers.
Mum wondered if I wouldn’t have to resit for the examination because she lost faith due to the circumstances in which i wrote them.
I wasn’t even thinking of excellence either. I just wanted to be over and done with it. It will amaze you that I came out in flying colours. I had a distinction, six credits and two passes. This was enough to earn me a university admission. Grace was at work! Obviously! I could only imagine the examiners glancing into my sheets and seeing tear stains forming patches on my booklets. *smiles*
Whoever says the place of prayer is useless hasn’t seen the effects of prayer. I remember well that my parents romanced me with so much prayers. Every day and every night. They also showed me so much love and support. Forced me to eat, use my drugs, allowed oral hydration techniques as the drips would keep me unable to move my hands freely, they also encouraged me to get some vital things stored up in my brain in preparation for the exams, they never minded all the questions thrown at them at unnecessary times. Questions like, “what’s wrong with your daughter? She’s always sickly”
Honestly, the place of love and support can never be over emphasised. I rode on the wings of love from every corner. And indeed, love lifted me. Love from my siblings, my parents, the invigilators, my friends, Mr. George ( I can’t forget the old man, he was a Vice Principal at the time), he practically allowed me write my English paper and a few others in his car packed outside the hall specifically for me so as to get good ventilation and above all else from my Heavenly Father.
I’m so interested in Tobi and I know by now you understand that he could be prone to all these too. Please, romance him with prayers and shower him with words of love and encouragement. I know he’ll make it and I trust that he’ll live his dreams by God’s great grace. He’ll get your good wishes.
I’ve been inspired to write this by Tobi, my warrior friend. It’s also an avenue to let him know he is loved. Not just by me, but much more by Our Heavenly Father.
A big, warm hug for every warrior out there taking life one day at a time. God’s with you. Just don’t give in, you’ll pull through. And if this meets you in some sort of pain, don’t despair. Do the right things to get better. And remember that, this too will pass.
Keep Living Strong.
With Lots of Love,