28 August 2016

Poetry in Disguise (The Story of Isaac)

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Poetry is an art form created mainly to please the ear as well as the mind. It is a literal composition in the form of a verse that maintains a consistent thought meant to stimulate the mind of its listener. For centuries, poetry has existed also as a tool of influence that has the capacity to be used to correct faults in the society. This complements its aesthetic nature. People gifted with the ability to create this wonderful art form are called Poets.

About ten years ago while still an undergraduate I met this great guy called Isaac. He was a student of Industrial Design. Isaac had an amazing way of expressing his feelings.
He never spoke in a usual way. He had devised a system of using rare English and Hausa words, Similes, Hyperboles, Metaphors and original witty sayings to communicate his views about any ongoing situation. If you get Isaac upset he will not use curse words or raise his voice. Instead he will craft a short saying with you as the major character in the form of an animal, human or a non-living object. He would tell exactly how you disgust him through the actions of that character.

But a majority of the people around Isaac (me inclusive) never appreciated his uniqueness and poetic genius at that time. He was just another weirdo. Yes, we enjoyed the humor and entertainment. But that was it. One of the saddest truths in fact was that the professionals around him especially the academics never saw the poetic gifts in Isaac. They only saw an unserious fellow. It was three solid years after we parted, after my interest in poetry increased that I came to realize what a great poet Isaac was. Every day I remember one of his metaphors, my favorite in which I was the inspiration for the central character. He said it in reaction to an action on my part which pissed him off. Below is an excerpt of our conversation which took place sometimes in December 2006;

Isaac: ‘PJ, you know what?’
PJ: ‘No bro, what is up?’
Isaac: ‘You are a candle!’
PJ (Puzzled): ‘I don’t think I get you’
Isaac: ‘You are a candle. You know what a candle does, don’t you?’
PJ (Still puzzled): ‘Ah yes, it is used for lightening up a room, no?’
Isaac: ‘When you torch a candle, it gives light to the world and then perishes in the process. It melts and disappears. And it’s no more. And the people forget it ever existed. They just move on and find another candle.’

That was it. He didn’t say any more after that. He didn’t need to. I got his message completely. It was very clear. He was saying to me ‘if you continue to sacrifice for people to benefit at your expense. You are going to die someday in the process and your reward will be obscurity.’ Over the years, due to experience with people, I have grown to appreciate this valuable advice. There are many other poetic sayings of Isaac that have taught me real life lessons. Many at the time and today still didn’t recognize his intellectual genius. But he remained a blessing to the few of us who ever did. He was Poetry in disguise.

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