Lean on me: The parable of the sunflower

Case scenario:
Yetunde was going through an especially torrid time at work where the management has recently given them a six months’ probation notice, following which they will downsize and release some staff.

Considering that her husband lost his banking job the preceding year and she is now the breadwinner of the family, she shuddered at what would become of them, if she also lost her job. Superimposed on this job strain is the increasing pressure from her mother-in-law, Alhaja Bisi, to give them a grandchild.

Yetunde always knew that Alhaja never really liked her, because she is not from Ibadan, unlike the girl she had wanted to matchmake for her only son. Her resentment, which was previously discreet and subtle is now full blown, and she is not pulling her punches at all. It didn’t help that they are living in Ibadan and in the same compound with her in a block of four flats.

Alhaja laments to everyone’s hearing that things started going downhill for her son, Tunde, from the moment he married Yetunde. And her conclusion is that Yetunde portends bad luck; since her husband lost his job within a year of their marriage and she has not yet become pregnant.

Her son should consider marrying another wife soon, because she will not be alive and watch another woman hold her son’s destiny to ransom, she would declare. Yetunde would quietly retreat into her bedroom to cry, but she was consoled by her husband’s unfailing support.

Tunde was also upset at the downturn of events and had been visiting and calling upon everyone in his network that he felt could be of assistance to help him get back on his feet.

Unfortunately, some of his erstwhile friends and colleagues derided him to his face, while others mocked him behind his back. He was at his wits ends, when he ran into Kola, a former secondary school classmate.

Kola is now the Head of Human Resources at a Consulting Firm and he listened to Tunde’s situation over lunch and then promised to send him some job openings. He also recommended Tunde to his boss, who took his recommendation strongly and gave him a job on a contract basis.

Tunde excelled and was soon hired on a permanent basis and things suddenly took an upward trajectory for his family. Yetunde eventually lost her job but Tunde was now earning enough to set her up in business and she was happy to be master of her own destiny. They still had not achieved pregnancy yet but the doctors had assured them that there was nothing wrong with them.

That evening as they were snuggling together after dinner, they reflected on the good luck of having kind-hearted people like Kola, who had made the difference by coming to their aid. Things would have been much worse if they were both unemployed.

Tunde was already becoming depressed and irritable at the time from the frustrations. God forbid, he had actually contemplated suicide, at his lowest ebb. He sighed and was grateful that such dark days were over for him now.

We won’t take imported rice ― Oshiomhole


I recently came across the parable of the sunflower which turn to face the direction of the sun and derive their energy from its warmth. However, what then happens when the day is cloudy or dark? The sunflower do not wilt away, but rather turn to each other.

That way, they all get through the dark and cloudy days until the sun reappears again to invigorate them all. While some dispute this account (and the jury is still out), it makes for a nice moral lesson.

In the case of Yetunde and Tunde above, they would have started wilting away under the burden of life’s challenges and the uncertainty of losing their jobs and becoming helpless. Indeed, the challenges were beginning to negatively affect their emotional wellbeing and relationship.

Imagine what would have happened down the line if Kola had not shown up to give them a helping hand with his network? The reality is that in life’s ups and downs, we all need a helping hand, a shoulder to lean on, from time to time.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful, if we all take a cue from the sunflower and share our warmth and resources with people in our network when they are down on their luck? In the case of Kola, it didn’t cost him anything financially; and his boss wisely hedged his bet, by placing Tunde on a short-term contract initially.

Until he proved himself worthy and deserving. Can we all act like a sunflower to people in our network? Starting from our families and friends? Let’s make the world a better place for us all…..one person at a time. A smile here, kind word there e.t.c. It may mean a lot for someone’s emotional wellbeing. Will you?

Nigerian Tribune

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