“So, you’re saying that it was my father’s destiny to have died before forty?”
“Yes. You see, that’s life. We do not have choices. We can hardly help what happens to us. Think about it. Your family, nationality, look and all…”
“Normal thing jare. I totally accept that there are many things that we do not have control over. But you cannot tell me that a man does not have control over things like contracting HIV sexually. I think life is totally a product of the choices we make. That’s rat poison over there. If I take it and die, will that be my choice or destiny?”
“Exactly what I am saying. If you decide now to take poison just to show me that you have a choice over life or death and you die, it will simply mean that you have been destined to die while trying to show that you have control over fate.”
“If you’re right, it means you were destined to say this rubbish to me today. But I know you could have chosen to ignore me and that would be you making your own choice. See, you’ve messed with my head enough for one day! Ogbeni, I am hungry.”
As they ate their watery beans which had been thickened with garri, Alex could not help but wonder at Uzo his friend and how he always connected everything to fate. Alex believed in God and in the power of prayers and wise decisions. Yet, whenever he had such arguments with Uzo, he could not help but ask questions about the events that had taken place in his life and family. Is it really true that human beings do not have any control over the things that happen to them? He remembered his father and how he had died from poisoning. Stories have it that his father’s best friend had influenced his mistress to poison him because he had his eyes on Alex’s mum. He could not be convinced that his father would not have remained alive had he resisted the temptation to have a mistress in the first place.
The next time Alex and Uzo found themselves arguing, Dr Alaba, a neighbour of theirs had quietly joined them and made a contribution that brought their differing opinions into marriage. “I strongly believe that you both are right to certain extents. I think that life is a blend of both fate and freewill. If for instance, destiny brings cold your way, you can keep warm by deciding to use a cardigan. Again, I must add that as humans, our understanding of the world is limited whether or not we accept it. Attempting to understand everything will make you neglect the things you should be working on. Life is a product of choices we make with respect to the things we can or cannot change.
Silence fell on them all.