Lessons from a stud

Johnson Babalola and his soon- to -be- released novel, “Rejected”

Johnson Babalola

Lately, I’ve had the house to myself. My son resides in another part of the city, and my wife and other children decided to take a break from home. Initially, I was looking forward to the solitude. I had meticulously planned out each day of the week during my time alone, beginning with a Saturday: a breakfast of porridge accompanied by a refreshing watermelon, tomato, and onion juice blend. My schedule included working on immigration files, attending a Canada immigration seminar hosted by my law firm and the Yoruba Community Association (GTA – Toronto), watching Kunle Afolayan’s “Ijogbon” on Netflix, and getting ready for the Canadian Association of Nigerian Lawyers Annual Gala. I was determined to have a great time at the Gala.

As I sat at the breakfast table, watching the news on TV, a wave of loneliness washed over me. I missed the little things—my wife’s gentle reminders, the jokes we shared, discussions about Nigeria and global changes. My elder daughter’s loving gestures and her reassuring words, “I love you, Dad,” resonated in my thoughts. I recalled with a smile, my younger daughter’s “hey Dad” whenever she was home from school. It struck me how we often take these small moments for granted. Then, a text message from my son brightened my day. “Hey, Dad, tomorrow at 2 pm,” it read. I smiled, anticipating our plans to play indoor golf after the church service the next day.

Johnson Babalola’s Rejected

I decided to call my wife and daughters. “How are you, Dad?” one of them greeted. “I miss you guys,” I replied. We spoke, and they encouraged me to make the most of my alone time and take some rest. My wife even teasingly remarked, “I thought you would enjoy being alone,” to which I responded with a firm “No.”

After the immigration seminar, I started watching “Ijogbon” but ended up dozing off. When I woke, it was time to prepare for the Gala. I was determined to wear a specific black Nigerian outfit: a Yoruba traditional long-sleeved “senator” shirt, paired with matching pants and an agbada (a loose robe worn by men). I chose a black pair of shoes, a black wristwatch, and a brown cap (fila). There was no room for any other attire in my mind.

The event was scheduled to start at 6 pm, and I had planned to start dressing at 4 pm and leave by 5 pm. However, I got a bit sidetracked and only started dressing at 5 pm. Putting on the pants was easy and I did that first. I had no issues with the agbada. It had to go last but I knew there was no issues with it. However, I had to put on the “senator” before the agbada. That’s when the trouble began. The uppermost stud on the shirt, the one closest to my neck, wouldn’t go through the tiny hole. I struggled, moved from one mirror to another, even contorted my neck for a better angle, but no luck. I stubbornly refused to wear anything else and spent an hour wrestling with this stubborn stud I dubbed the “Enemy of Progress.”

Taking a short break, I reflected on how, in the past, there was always someone at home to help me with this stubborn stud. A quick call to my wife or one of my children, and it would be sorted in no time. I had taken their presence and assistance for granted. At 6:30 pm, I decided to head to the Gala, intending to find someone there to help. In the parking lot of the event center, I gave it one more try, and miraculously, I succeeded! I felt happy, relieved, and proud of my persistence. I wished I had persevered like this during my high school days with that dreaded subject called mathematics.

At the event, I had a fantastic time. No one could have guessed the ordeal I’d been through. Looking around, I wondered what challenges others had overcome to look so great that evening, especially those who lived alone.

Returning home, I thought my troubles were over, but not quite. The two bottom studs cooperated, but the stubborn upper neck stud refused to budge. I couldn’t take it off, and the hole was too tiny. I tried everything, in between eating and sipping tea, sitting and attempting to fix it in front of the mirrors. Finally, tired and frustrated, I resorted to using a knife to enlarge the hole and remove the stud.

The next day, I woke my family with “I love and miss you guys” and shared my story. That day, I spent quality time with my son, learning golf and having dinner together. As I went to bed that night, I couldn’t help but think that the saying “eniyan laso mi” (people are my clothing) was profoundly true. To anyone experiencing loneliness at this time, may you find the right support at the right moment and with the right people.

*Johnson Babalola, a Canada based lawyer, leadership consultant and corporate emcee, is a public affairs analyst. Follow him for discussions on real life issues that affect us all: https://www.facebook.com/jbdlaw /@jbdlaw/www.johnsonbabalola.com

Johnson Babalola’s novel, “Rejected” will be released in December 2023 on Amazon, FriesenPress and other platforms.