Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I awoke on that snowy morning a year ago and opened my blind to see what the world had to offer. I could see the road, and to the right, some part of my neighbors’ lawn. There were tire marks on the snow-covered lawn and their mailbox lay shattered to pieces on the ground. A car had skidded onto their lawn and as the driver tried to regain control had made a sharp turn back onto the road. Was the driver drunk, or on his cell phone? Both are equally deadly and criminal.

I called my neighbor and she was thankful that it didn’t happen at a time that her children were playing in the snow. Me too, I was thankful that her children were safe and for more. I was thankful that it wasn’t my lawn.

No, I am not a heartless person and I do not wish ill on anyone, and I like these particular neighbors a lot, but I have good reasons for my thankfulness.

Had the driver lost control onto my lawn, I would have freaked out in a major way for these reasons. Two weeks before, as I was leaving for work, I saw a dead squirrel in the middle of the road in front of my house. These squirrels and chipmunks are either suicidal or their genetic mapping have not yet caught up with the technology of cars and roads that have invaded their habitat. So the dead squirrel lying on a road that belonged to the city wasn’t the issue. The issue was that I returned home from work and the dead squirrel was virtually on my front door. Someone picked it up and put it there.

I was furious, so I called my sister and the police. The officer informed me that the police do not remove dead animals and she was sure it was some high school pranksters. I politely told her that I was capable of removing the dead squirrel myself; I just wanted the incident documented.

A week later, someone angrily threw a metal signboard that weighed at least ten pounds onto my lawn. The sign was for an estate sale at someone else’s home, and I had seen this particular signboard at an intersection about half of a mile from my house. “Why would an idiot throw this board on my lawn as if it’s my job to clean up the neighborhood?” I wondered. As I attempted to take care of the board, I realized that the person was not so much an idiot as dyslexic. He or she was one of those people who mixed up their numbers. Let us say that my house number was XYZDE, the house number for the estate sale was XYDEZ.

I took both incidents very personally, especially that they happened within a week of one another, had months separated them, I wouldn’t have read much into them, but at the same time, I recognized how easy it was to become paranoid, and I didn’t want to feel vulnerable or paranoid. Those were my reasons for being thankful that morning, that one, my neighbors’ children were safe and secondly, that it wasn’t my lawn.

It is very easy to become paranoid or feel vulnerable. A lot of us of Nigerian origin or nationality are feeling vulnerable, ashamed, tainted, paranoid, marked, targeted and embarrassed at this time with AbdulMutallab’s attempt to blow up a NW plane with almost 300 people on board. I am as thankful as the rest of the world for this huge Christmas gift to all of us that he did not succeed.

It is horrifying to say the least and every mentally balanced citizen of this world must share at least one of these emotions, but we must remember that there are at least 150 million Nigerians in the world and we must not allow one person out of 150 million to throw us into a panic. If we let him do this to us, then he has succeeded in his attempt to terrorize the world, and we will be giving in to a coward.

AbdulMutallab did it. He is an individual and though we share the same nationality with him, it is his doing and not our doing, and it does not make any other Nigerian a terrorist.

Kehinde Adeola Ayeni, MD., a public health physician, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst was born in Nigeria. A mother of two children, she is private practice in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Her first novel Our Mother's Sore Expectations explored the plight of women under dictatorship government in Nigeria. Dr. Ayeni founded the Foundation for Indigenous Development and Advocacy (Foundida.org), a nonprofit organization whose goal is that every Nigerian child has at minimum an elementary school education, and she works closely with Educare Trust Fund based in Ibadan, Nigeria (Educaretrust1994.org) 

Feasts of Phantoms
a novel by Kehinde Adeola Ayeni
-- ISBN 978-0981393926
Available your local bookstore, a host of online booksellers and directly from Genoa House.

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