Turning the other cheek

Turning the other cheek is a teaching by Jesus Christ. See Matthew 5: 39. It is a doctrine that discourages one from retaliation when offended by someone in a world where everyone is someone’s enemy. In other words, if a

man/woman slaps you on the right cheek, rather responding with a Tyson-like punch, you are admonished to offer the left cheek and walk away.

It is this tit-for-tat disposition that has left the entire world in tatters. For instance, if the followers of Mohammed Yusuf were Christians who subjected themselves to the teaching of Jesus Christ by not retaliating for his killing, there would have been no Boko Haram madness to afflict us since 2009. Unfortunately, they are not!

But then, how many Christians are ready to offer the other cheek as decreed by their Role Model? Rather than turn the other cheek, most Christians would decree “fall down and die” for any real or imagined foes that afflict them, physically, spiritually and even emotionally!

What informed this piece was a story I stumbled on while surfing through the social media last week. It all happened in Agbado community of Ogun state. A transport union member named Jelili Jimoh or JJ reported slumped after slapping a commercial motorcyclist  or okada rider called Ezekiel Amosu. The rider did not lift a finger in retaliation in keeping to the Biblical injunction of turning the other cheek and the obedience paid off.

JJ had confronted Ezekiel who had gone to drop a passenger at the Ibeshi Bus Stop in Agbado, an area outside the location he was registered to operate, insisting he must be issued with a ticket. Ezekiel laboured to explain that he had paid the levy for the day in his area of operation but JJ would not listen. For peace to reign, Ezekiel reluctantly offered a hundred naira. JJ was not impressed even though he did not tell Ezekiel what to pay.

A tug-of-war then ensued as JJ attempted to impound the motorcycle. He then followed up with a slap for Ezekiel’s audacity not to let go of the okada. Eventually, JJ cornered the machine to his side and used the metal lock to secure it. Ezekiel’s plea for his motorcycle to be released earned him another slap. Then, the slapper retired to a spot and began to fidgeting and shivering. Moments later, pandemonium broke out when JJ slumped and gave up the ghost. A mob soon gathered ready to pounce on Ezekiel but those who witnessed the encounter tried to save his life.

The police were quickly alerted and the Divisional Police Officer in charge of Agbado Division, SP Yero Kuranga, led his men to the scene. JJ was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was confirmed dead on arrival. The Ogun state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Abimbola Oyeyemi, who confirmed the incident said JJ’s death was a case of sudden and natural death. The wife of the deceased later confirmed that her spouse was hypertensive and too temperamental.

What actually came to my mind when JJ kicked the bucket was that Ezekiel was loaded with a charm known as “return to sender”. The talisman worked in such a way that if someone hits any part of your body, it is attacker that will feel the pains. So, you don’t have to lift a finger in retaliation! As it turned out, Ezekiel merely turned the other cheek by not slapping JJ back.

 I also came to that “return-to-sender” conclusion because of the encounter I had with a boy during my sojourn in Abeokuta in the same Ogun state. I saw the boy molesting a small girl I was paid to protect in the neighbourhood. I had constituted myself to a one-boy army because of my zero tolerance to oppression of innocent kids. So, some parents engaged me to look after their kids after school hours in the neighbourhood. Payments came in cash and in kind.

On that day, the girl let out an SMS or save my soul! I raced to the spot and met the boy girlhandling the poor kid. I pounced on the boy and unleashed a knockout punch that caught his left chin. It was a kind of blow that you would see in American cowboy movies in those days. I wanted to deliver a second punch meant to send him reeling to the floor… to teach him a bitter lesson but I felt some sharp pain. I expected him to fight back boy to boy. But to my greatest shock, he did not even wince let alone hit back. Rather, I was the one feeling the pain in my right fist. The assailant retreated. I lifted girl from the floor and led her away, trying to hide my pain that made me wondering whether the boy’s jaws were of steel! Or could it be that he possessed the “return-to-sender” talisman? But it was my right fist and not my left chin that was aching!

For about two weeks, I could not write with my right hand. I was lucky not to have fractured by hand. The mother of the girl I rescued placed me on a pain killer after a local bonesetter assured us that I did not crack any bones. Then, I remembered my old man who was good with his hands and wished I inherited the ambidexterity from him. The boy heard about my predicament and whenever saw me in the neighbourhood, he would mock me, “saying ntooor”.

Looking back now, I cannot but thank God that the boy did not have any health challenges. If he were a walking corpse like JJ, I would have been charged to court for boyslaughter! There are many people like JJ out there. So, when next you are provoked to a fight, you are well advised to restrain yourself or rein you anger. If Ezekiel had not been obedient to the Biblical teachings of turning the other cheek, he would have landed JJ with dirty slaps in retaliation. By now, he would be cooling his feet in the Agbado police cell or in a correctional centre somewhere in Ogun state, accused of manslaughter if he had practised Moses or Hammurabi’s Law of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth!

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