Reverend Wisdom was on fire that Sunday morning, he vibrated from the passion he spoke with, getting everyone jumping and shouting before his sermon was over. Reverend Wisdom’s messages, even though spirited at times, were always profound and full of inspiration. Today, his topic was ‘Surviving in a Dangerous World’ and Careful was sitted on the front row, soaking in every bit of the message, taking down points and thinking about how she’ll apply them to her life. She glanced at her sister, Fearful, three rows behind who was frantically scribbling on paper, no doubt taking down the points too.  Out of habit, she searched for their mother, Caution, but could not locate her in the sea of heads. Caution liked to seat somewhere in the back row. Careful smiled, they were sure going to have a great discussion when they got home.
They always dissected Rev. Wisdom’s messages during Sunday lunch and she knew that that day’s would be interesting. As much as Careful and Fearful looked so alike that people could barely tell them apart, except the people that knew them really well, they were as different as night and day and almost always argued about how best to apply Rev Wisdom’s messages to their lives.

Later that afternoon, Fearful and Careful watched impatiently as Caution dished out the steaming, florescent white rice and pepper hot goat meat stew. Fearful was tapping her foot against the table and Careful glared at her to stop. 

“Why did you choose to walk home rather than join us in the car?” Caution asked Fearful

“Mum, how did you expect me to enter the car when you filled it with strangers that we don’t know their medical history?”

“They’re not strangers, they’re our church members” Caution said

“Church members who you don’t know their medical history. “

Caution and Careful burst into laughter and Fearful threw a match box at Careful who docked and the matchbox hit Caution. Fearful covered her mouth with her hands

“Sorry Mum” her voice was muffled

Caution gave her a warning look and Careful tried to suppress her laughter

“The truth is, the Reverend spoke directly to me today when he said ‘the world is a very dangerous place and we must take extra precaution if we would survive’ Fearful quoted with passion, “With this Ebola scare, there is nothing like too vigilant.  You can’t stand too close to people, shake hands, hug or give lifts in your car mum”

“Come on Fearful” Careful interjected, “you don’t get Ebola by standing close to someone, and we were told all the precautionary measures to take, as long as you keep to them, you’ll be ok”.

 “You have your convictions, I have mine. As long as that scare is out there, I won’t share a cab with someone, I won’t share any kind of space, and if it is not a life and death situation, I won’t leave the house” Fearful said her jaw set, determined by her decision. 

“Mum, tell Fearful she’s going to the extreme again, like she did when pastor said we should be watchful who we talk to and she deleted the entire contact list on her phone, or the other time when they said there was bird flu scare and she won’t even eat indomine chicken flavour or when they said children of wealthy people were being kidnapped and she started wearing rags and taking bus to school… ”

“I know, I know, now you’re going to give a lecture about how I should have done it like you and simply made a list of all my contacts and written out all the advantages and disadvantages of having them as friends, and then shortlist. Then during the bird flu scare, how I should have just washed and cooked the meat extra and made sure I bought from trusted vendors, and during the kidnapping how I should have just made sure I had company at all times. I know that epistle of carefulness, I’ve heard it a million times already. This is completely different,” Fearful paused for dramatic effect and Careful rolled her eyes “we are talking about life here, and you can’t joke about life”.

“What about gym, choir rehearsals, Joy’s birthday party, what about the concert? You can’t just decide not to leave the house just like that.” Careful hated the panic in her own voice, but she liked to go everywhere with her sister, apart from being her double, fearful was her best friend. Careful looked at their mum pleadingly “Mum do something, Fearful is about to ruin my life again”

Caution smiled oblivious to their argument, she set their food on the table and Careful forgot the hunger that had once been grumbling her belly. She stared at the food in front of her, slumped her shoulder and looked at her sister

“What about school”? Careful asked, almost in a whisper but Fearful looked away from her, jawline taunt like a guitar string, she turned away from the food and stood up.

Caution looked up, the smile resident on her chubby face slowly slipped away, she had taught her daughters to be independent, and open minded, she liked hearing them argue out their points, she always tried not to interfere, but once in a while, like now, the need to direct was essential.

“Now now! Fearful, sit back in that chair”

Fearful slowly settled back in the chair as Caution stared at her face, realising for the first time how much she looked like their father,

“Death comes to the person in the house and the person in the street; you don’t survive in life by burying your head in the sand like an ostrich, you stand tall and look ahead like a giraffe, so you can see when danger comes and what direction it’s coming from. You can see far ahead by getting informed and not allowing your fear rule your heart. Instead of getting afraid over every threat, screaming ‘the world is falling on us’, use the unlimited information resources available to you and equip yourself”.

 She took a deep breath and continued, searching her daughters face for any sign of understanding.

 “Nelson Mandela once said that the courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. That the brave is not one who feels no fear, but he who conquers it” She paused to let it sink in and continued “I know you are afraid, and I am too, but we cannot shut down our entire lives because there is a possibility of harm. That is choosing certain death in the stead of possible hurt. There is a quote I like from Marie Curie, ‘Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so we can fear less.’ The only thing you should fear is ignorance, because it will kill you faster than any virus. Ironically, if we are to listen to the wisdom in J.R.R. Tolkien’s words, that ‘A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a short cut to meet it’, what if after staying indoors, myself or Careful go out, contact it and come and give it to you here, wont that be ironic?”

Fearful let out a shout with a mock look of horror on her face! “Ah mummy, I won’t touch you guys again o” 

Caution smiled, she had gotten through to her. She looked at Careful who was staring at Fearful thoughtfully also searching for some sign that Fearful understood what their mother just said. She spoke calmly breaking the silence.   

“So, about the concert on Thursday…”

Fearful threw her a dirty look, and everyone burst out laughing.

Yes, Sunday lunch was always interesting.

The strength of fear lies in ignorance; the cure for ignorance is knowledge. To eliminate fear, get knowledge.
Kanayo Aniegboka-kani

Kanayo Aniegboka

Kani is a Nigerian born and based minister, public speaker, entrepreneur and life coach. His keen and unique perspective to life issues makes him a refreshing voice to listen to. He currently serves as the Executive Coordinator of House on the Rock - Word House and sits on the board of a number of companies.

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