At first I was a bit devastated that I had spent the whole time walking around the train station instead of getting on the train and securing a seat for myself. Now I have to stand these 2 hours with my heels on. With each passing minute, I kept twitching and stretching my foot and shin which were literally asking me “why?”
By now my eyes were up and alert, looking out for any seat that was promising. perhaps this or that passenger will alight at the next station then I could take his seat. After about 45 mins, that miracle happened, I hurried to his side and it wasn’t long those feet of mine where singing praises. I noticed my friend was also in need for a seat, so I motioned to her to come sit with me. As we tried to fit in properly, the man on my right adjusts for us to seat as 3. We exchanged pleasantries and started conversing.
I knew he had been drinking, because the stench was strong, but that didn’t matter, he was going to talk to me till I had reached my station. For him, it was an opportunity to practice his English and he continued talking and showing us pictures. Suddenly he switches back into Russian and I could tell from his tone that the conversation was getting deeper.
He started interrogating us about our families. His mood changed expressively when we’d asked him about his kids. The atmosphere was tense, it felt like a sudden overcast . Now it was vividly clear why he was drinking, he was in so much pain and was masking it with strong drink… I found myself justifying his actions. I knew I had to be of help somehow, but frankly, it was time to let him just speak and not interrupt. I watched him go back and forth with his emotions as if battling with his thoughts on whether or not to share his sorrow with us. Finally he opens up:
” I had 4 Children, 3 girls and 1 boy, the boy was the last born. ..I’ve lost him. ” turning to us ” How often do you call your parents? ” he asked ” Your parents cry silently but never tell you how much they long to hear your voice everyday” he continued. ” learn to call them and write them daily even if they don’t receive or respond, write them and let them know how you are doing”
“How did your son die, what happened?” I interrupted, “Was he ill?”
He paused for minutes as if to swallow in some pain reliever, then he gazed at me like someone who was finding the right words to vocalize the heaviness of his heart and narrated ” he was young, well to do and had possessions that were worth millions of rubles in Moscow and in Tver. He was only 30, passed away last month May 21st 2019.”
“That’s really sad,” I added.
“He never married and hence has no children. he was very strong and handsome” he continued showing me videos of his son lifting weights and so on.
He was absolutely right, the young man was handsome and muscular. I gave a keen attention to him as he continued.
” From the time a person is born up till he tuns 20, his immune system and whole body works hard to produce a stable state of health for the individual. but after 20, it is his job to maintain the health that his body has acquired.” Then he leaned back facing the window as if to find something distracting. All of a sudden, I heard sobs with despair coming from him. I gently reached out to pat his arms and shoulders hoping to console the hurting dad.
He turned aside giving a gesture of “I am fine” With some courage he started speaking again ” Be careful what you eat, what you swallow, be careful of the drugs and tablets that are brought in from …(he mentioned a country) be careful of pills that claim to enhance beauty…
Apparently, my son believed he was extremely strong and wanted to remain so. He took some pills that were recommended for body building and strength, supposed to hasten and enhance the results of his work out. He consumed the product ignorant of its terrible side effects.“
Again he said to me, “be careful, when you feel a pain or a symptom, don’t be quick to try to suppress it with painkillers, go to the doctor first for a check up. My son didn’t do that until his condition got critical. He never told me he was having any challenges with his health until his health deteriorated greatly.”
The next time he sees his son was on the hospital bed. He shows me a video of his son in pain trying to breath his last.
As I write this, I can’t portray to you the magnitude of emotions and pain and regrets that hurled around this man. I opened my mouth to comfort him, but I had nothing better than to say you will see him again, by the grace of God.
He looked at me feeling relieved that he had spoken to us and said to me, ” I hope so, but you see, ( with tears held back in) I wished that my son had called me to report how he was doing in truth before things got so bad.
I regret that we barely spoke and he hardly visited home… Remember Jemmy, family is yours and first. For even if you got married, a husband or lover may leave you and you would be left alone, but family never leaves so put them first, value them and show them love, give them attention, all other things in life aren’t as priceless as family.”
” Here is my grandson, from my daughter, I spend time with him and it gives me so much pleasure and satisfaction” He added showing us some lovey videos. When I looked around us, I realized that our conversation wasn’t that much of a private one, a few passengers had learnt something too. That was remarkable.
It was time for me to get down, so much had come into my spirit, I was not the same. I have always known these things but somehow it meant more today, it was much more profound. It wasn’t a story, an article or a played out script or clip. It was reality. I just couldn’t wait to reach for my phone quickly to write my dad and mum.
That afternoon, the 17th of June, I made up my mind to drop my parents a message everyday. I also made a decision to eat well and take good care of my health. It was a good thing I ran in late to the train after all. This stranger was God-sent to minister wisdom to me. We parted, not knowing if we will ever meet again.