(MY PROBLEM WITH HIS FIFTH WAY)
By D. F. Effiong
She took a purposeful look at the article on the notice board that read, How to do it like a woman and smiled. I moved close and held her hands that felt like a pillow. ‘Why are you smiling Atim?’ I asked. She headed towards the door. ‘Hmmm, must I have a reason for doing everything?’ She replied. A sudden blankness enveloped me at the thought of this uncommon question – ‘Must we have a reason for everything?’Atim’s insightful question and melodious voice kept singing skelewa within me. Just as I began dancing to the tone of skelewa,I heard a coarse voice, ‘Hey! Atim, guys, guys.’ The voice sounded like Aquino’s. I turned, behold, it was Aquino. My countenance went down. I could not continue with the rhythm of skelewa. I looked at his stomach which was like that of a pregnant woman. I felt like throwing punches at it. However, I admired his froglike eyes and hairstyle that looked like that of Papa Ajasco. I quickly remembered the inexhaustible argument we had the previous night. ‘Hello Atim,’ he said, ‘how are you?’ ‘Am good,’ she replied, as though empty of expression. With an edge of impatience, I interrupted, ‘Aquino, I wonder why we ought to justify everything by giving reasons.’ Aquino asked what the matter was. I narrated, ‘Yesterday, I was so enveloped by our dialogue about deducing the certitude of God’s existence by the use of reason. You said with an aura of confidence that since we cannot order things to intelligent-effective ends, so there must be a supreme source from which purposefulness arises.’ Aquino cut in, ‘yes, that is correct.’ ‘Of course I couldn’t have agreed less because you gave me a cup of mimbo,’ I said, ‘but now I am ready. Let’s talk.’ Atim immediately muttered into my ears, ‘Hello! What’s going on here? You know Aquino is too intelligent and indefatigable, be sure to lose this argument my dear.’ I turned suddenly and gave her a furtive look, displeased at what she told me.
With that aggressive authority I said, ‘let’s all sit down under that tree and see how this shall end.’ I looked at Aquino straight to his eyes and said, ‘Aquino, every tree for example has its purpose. They either end up as charcoal, timber, paper or as furniture. The same is applicable to animals. Most of which we rear and eat. The trees cannot become men neither do the animals become men, for their purposes are determined and distinct from each other.’ ‘There you are my guy!’ Aquino interrupted with a surge of vigour. I immediately continued with my argument, ‘But Aquino, I have a little problem here, if all things were to have a purposeful end which have their source from an intelligent agent how then would you rationally justify the existence of hell and purgatory? This intelligent agent surely must have had these two kept purposefully for man. Indeed the intelligent agent seems here to be the Cause of all things. Now Aquino, what purpose can we see in the events surrounding us? What about the era of slave trade across the Atlantic, the World Wars, the Nigerian Civil War, the Rwandan genocide and today the menace of Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen? What purpose can we hold to, Aquino?’ I felt at this time a smoothing of my palms and a feathery gentleness. How could I have forgotten that Atim’s soft palms were still buried in mine?
‘Aquino, were these actions not determined as the tree is determined to become ash or charcoal? Or does this intelligent agent not know about these purposeful ends? Isn’t he the director of all things toward their ends?’ Aquino straightened his feet and belched disgustfully. I continued, ‘The pain of it all is when I hear preachers say in a hopeful tone, “God knows what you are passing through; let us be grateful that we did not perish on so and so bomb blast yesterday because he loves us.” Didn’t he love the massacred victims too? And some other Preachers would say, “Nothing happened to the religious leaders because God knows how to protect his own.” Since when did religious inclination become a pre-requisite to attract God’s favor and protection? Aquino, indeed your fifth way is too reasonable to be reasonable in these circumstances.’ I was still speaking when Aquino stood up unceremoniously, looking like a sea of flickering flames as if he was touched at the wrong side of this body. There was this scornful resentment I noticed in the endless silence that ensued. ‘I’ll see you two later,’ he murmured as though encoded with meaning. There was an emotional rioting when Atim searched my eyes. I had imagined glimpses of her moving towards me. Confused of what to do or say I mumbled, “All I want to know is Christ and the power of his resurrection.” She gave a fawning smile and said, ‘well I think you’ll agree with me now. We mustn’t seek to give rational explanations to sublime mysteries, for in so doing we falter even the more.’ Her smile was so attractive and her grip seemed like a magnet when she leaned upon me. I only remembered saying, ‘I am hungry, Atim, let’s go home.’
Find not reason for everything,
Though it hurts and destroys,
To see our limitations in the story of life,
Seek not to ask questions beyond you,
For in so much knowledge,
Comes in time the kiss of death,
Run to contentment and sleep with her!
O wisdom enshrined,
Within the men’s walls and heart;
When the ‘why’ questions seem so unending,
When hope seem betrayed and lost in itself,
Giving reasons to worry about life,
Run to contentment like the child she says,
This is my Clarion call!