There was this story I heard and would love to share with you today. In a village somewhere in West Africa, there was this girl been raised in a communal family. She was very inquisitive, and attentive. She noticed that when her mother passes by that other women makes faces, snares and shares words with one another snickering. She observed this for a while and felt she must tell her mother about it, which she attempted but was always shunned and shushed off.
Whenever she is alone with her mother, she would begin by saying, “Iya, while you were out today, ….” her mother will always cut her short, cut into the conversation and send her on errands. This goes on for a while and she was more frustrated, day in day out because those same people snickering about her mother behind her back are the same ones that always run to get the basket and the calabash from her mother when she comes back from the farm or market. Her mother will always have something to give these women. A bunch of plantain, basket of fruits, and vegetable and much more.
One day her mother came home with bush meat, her favorite and cut pieces to be given to one of these women. The one that she has observed to be the ring leader. She vehemently refused to go until her mother listen to her. Her mother been very tired, for it has been a long day indulged her for once. She told her mother what is been said about her and her mother just told her that the fact that they were talking behind her meant they were afraid of her. Her mother told her that whenever things are said about you behind your back, it is either because those saying it do not want you to hear, what they are saying is not true or they are afraid of you and as such your servant, her mother said. That sort of confused her for that was not what she expected. After all said and done, her mother instructed her to take the meat to the woman, which she did.
There was this day that her mother came home earlier than expected. She went into her hut and laid down without any knowing she was home. When it was evening the compound started buzzing with activities, for the market women were back and those that went to the farm were back and the village school children were home. Some women gathered together to talk about their day and as usual they started talking about her mother, wondering why she is not back from the market, making insinuations and jesting about her stoic stance and all sort.
The little girl went into her mothers hut to get water from the water pot and was surprised to see her mother sitting on the clay bed obviously listening to the racket going on in the yard. She waited to see a confrontation and the likes but was surprised when the mother greeted and gave her a small basket of snails to give to these same women to share. “What on earth is wrong with you Iya? “, she said. Now you have caught them red handed and yet you still want to give them your stuff. What have they ever given you? Why can’t you confront them to their face? Her mother smiled and said to her, they are speaking behind my back still for they are not aware I am home. This little girl was baffled and at the same time confused. That day she felt her mother was a weakling and lack courage. Why will anyone let people double face them?. Smile on one hand and pass demeaning remarks on another.
Then one faithful day, something happened in the compound and some people were at logger heads with each other. Her mother stepped in as a peacemaker and the aggression was transferred unto her. All those things she has been telling her mother all those years were said to her to her face by the people she was trying to mediate between. Other people stepped in while her mother walked away. Just walked away!!! Why will she not bring all those words she’s been telling her about all those years up and make them eat their words!
The moral of this story is that some days later, her mother called her and said to her that she should never say anything she would not be able to say on the roof top in the hut/shed. Do not listen to people that comes to you bearing tales about another, for so they will take tales about you too. Do not join others to make jest of another for the tides could/will turn against you- what you sow, you shall surely reap. If someone comes to you with a tale about someone, ask them if you can ask the person about it quoting them? Once you ask that question, one by one the gossips will spread the word, they will not come to you with tales anymore. When people are talking, do not eavesdrop for you can hear something that will trouble your mind, affecting your day negatively. People are entitled to their opinion, so do not ever let what people say behind or even to you to your face, to have any negative effect on you. There is no permanent friend, nor are there permanent enemies. Whatever about you that you know if it is repeated on the roof top will break your heart, do not share with your bosom friend, for that bosom friend is bound to have another bosom friend that she or he will tell and whatever 2 to 3 ears have heard the whole world have heard. Learn to save some words, it is not all that you see that you speak about. Some words are better spoken with action. Some are better left unsaid like water flowing beneath the rock!!!!
Proverbs 17:4 An evildoer gives heed to false lips;
A liar listens eagerly to a spiteful tongue.
27 He who has knowledge spares his words,
And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.
28 Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace;
When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.