When the Bible says in Genesis 2:18 – ‘It is not good for man to be alone,’ I take this to mean man in his generic form, as in man and woman.
Truth is, it is not good for anyone to be alone!
Loneliness is a disease killing faster than obesity as one report in The Punch newspapers said last week; lonely people are more prone to sicknesses and diseases than those in relationships or those who are surrounded by loved ones.
Have you ever been lonely?
I don’t mean that momentary feeling of loss we often get when the house is suddenly empty of kids, family or loved ones. You know, when they travel or go back to school, you know they’ll come back soon enough and continue with their noise and love around you.
What I mean is when you can’t find a shoulder to lean on, when you can’t find someone to whisper to, when you can’t even enjoy quarrelling with someone close to you and look forward to make up time.
Loneliness is an empty hole begging to be filled, a void aching to have someone care and connect with and this connection does not have to be sexual, it could be platonic, familial, even agape.
You know whatamin?
You are feeling ‘one kind’ and need to talk to someone who knows you deep enough to suggest a solution or need someone to make you laugh and forget your foolishness;
…someone who cares enough to monitor your health and ensure you get treated asap
…someone who’s there to just listen and even without saying a word, you know you are in good hands.
Time was, when I thought it strange that in oyibo land, someone dies alone in their apartment and nobody knows for days. A worker died at his desk for four days and his colleagues didn’t even know he was dead; why? He was a loner, never interacted with his colleagues; was always the first to get to work and last to leave. At that time, I wasn’t sure this sort of thing could happen in Naija.
But hey! An undergraduate of Unizik died in her room and for two weeks, no one knew. She didn’t much interact with her neighbours and so when she fell ill (I want to imagine she was ill that’s why she died) there was no one to assist her and when she wasn’t seen for some days, nobody bothered to check.
Here’s another one! A woman died in her room in Ebonyi State and for more than one month no one knew until the unbearable stench from the rotting corpse took over the house…they said she didn’t talk to the rest of the neighbours.
I had a grand aunt, who’s four kids live abroad, she lived alone with a steward/house help in a huge house somewhere in Lagos. Aunty didn’t want to live abroad because she hated the weather, so her kids arranged for a companion of sort. Now, steward/house help/ companion got greedy and decided he wanted the house for himself, after all, grand aunt’s kids don’t even need the house anyway, so he helped himself.
He murdered grand aunt and for about three weeks, the rest of the family here in Lagos didn’t know she had been dead and left to rot in a hastily dug grave right in the compound with her house put up for sale by the killer help!
Why didn’t we know?
Grand aunt wasn’t grand when it came to connecting socially with the rest of the family and so when her kids couldn’t reach her, a family member was detailed to go check on her and…
These sort of happenings used to be alien to us because of our culture; extended family is key and by extended family, throw in the friends, friends of friends 6 degrees removed from you; they become, ‘my brother from the village’ or ‘my cousins’ aunty’s second son from her third husband.’
Plus, we don’t mind our businesses in this part of the world; our noses are too deep inside one another’s business; call them monitoring spirits if you like but these are all part of the circle of our lives.
For instance, aged parents who lived in the village had a support system back then; they had kids in the community who ran errands for them, they had farmers who brought in food stuff, housewives who cooked for them occasionally, neighbours who had mastered their routine and would immediately sound an alarm should they fail to show up at a particular place or event; there would be people who could call their children back from the cities if the aged grew too sick to be managed by the local herbalist.
Now, even the villages are empty. Everyone is in towns and cities and living alone because of the nature of modern life. We want to keep strictly to ourselves and not be bothered with nosy neighbours. So when we get sick, shame would not let us call on the neighbours we despise. But then come to think of it, may be our neighbours aren’t the problem but us, who are intolerant and just wish to be left alone so nobody comes to burden us with their problems, abi?
So we isolate ourselves, we don’t want to be socially responsible for anyone. This is killing a lot of people right now.
According to the report in The Punch, ‘Dr. Julianne Holt, a professor of psychology at Brigham Young University said, ‘Being connected to others socially is widely considered a fundamental human need, crucial to both well-being and survival’ so it means by being our brother’s keeper, we are actually doing ourselves a lot of favours.
There may be other things worse than being alone; it may not even kill a lot of people so fast and yet, you should wonder, why people who have loved ones around them thrive; it shows we all need one another; no wonder some people say, no man is an island.
Man was made to be with someone; man was made for relationships.