Musings · Story

My Encounter with an Agama 😣

There are times in life when we face seemingly impossible situations and a lot of courage is usually required to scale through. As difficult as it is to admit, sometimes we make it, sometimes we don’t. There simply is no single fix to all of life’s problems. Some people overcome challenges, some people don’t. Some people recover from illnesses, some people don’t.

It’s not a matter of lack of faith, enthusiasm or optimism – it’s simply life and fact remains that life happens.

Still, it does’t mean we are powerless; rather it emphasizes our humanity and its limitations which I should add, far exceed our imaginations.

Some may disagree and that’s fine – I’d love to hear your thoughts.

I was about 11 or 12 when my brother and I changed schools once again. This time, we were enrolled in a school on the border between Kaduna and Plateau States in the North-West of Nigeria.

It wasn’t our first time in a boarding school but it was certainly different. The school was located outside the town, the dinning hall was under construction, the hostels were not quite completely constructed, the language was different – the whole experience was different from anything I had experienced before. At the same time, it was an experience I wouldn’t want to trade because I believe it forms or at least contributes to who I am today – even if less than a quarter.

I have so many stories to tell of my experience in this school but I’ll just focus on one today.

The school had a water well where everyone generally got water from. There was also a well-functioning water system with water filters and hand pumps but this area had a fence around it and was mostly locked up and inaccessible.

Not this fancy but you get the idea 😉
Shadowy depths of a water well

We got water from the well for everything.

On a Saturday morning like any other, I strolled down to the well with my little white jerry-can (every student was mandated to have one). I didn’t especially like this task but seeing as water is essential for life 😎

After setting the jerry-can down, I picked up the buga, held tight to one end of the rope attached to it and dropped it into the well.

Now, dropping the buga into the well requires a lot of strategy and if done wrongly, it wouldn’t take any water and you’d have to do it again.

On this particular day, I dropped it skillfully and the low thud was a welcoming sound. As the buga began to sink indicating that it was getting filled, I began to pull it up by the rope. My feet were properly planted on the ground and my knees leaning against the edge of the concrete structure around the well hole supported my elbows as I heaved up the buga one pull at a time.

As I continued to pull, the buga rose up from the shadowy depths and slowly came into view… and then, I froze.

Right there, in the water I had skillfully gotten from the well was a red-headed lizard. I couldn’t tell if it was alive or dead, I couldn’t move and I could barely breath.

The menacing beast 😂

I stood there with the rope still held tightly in my hand and the buga hanging midway through the well tunnel. I stood there for what felt like hours, my eyes pleading with everyone who passed by. 

Somehow, many people didn’t pass by and as a new student, I only wanted to ask people I already knew for help. No need adding more light to the fact that I was new and spoke a different language.

My arms began to shake, my heart beat a steady, pounding staccato, my eyes bulged. Fear filled my mind.

Some people might find this silly but it was an actual fear and I remember the feeling – not exactly – but I remember all the same.

After what felt like hours and many failed ‘almost’ attempts to call out for help, I held my breath and pulled it out all the way.

The Agama was dead.

I spilled the water and the dead Agama on the ground next to the well and on shaky legs I made my way to my classroom. As it was a Saturday, there were a few students loitering around in their house wears. I looked around, eager to share my terrifying experience with someone when it occurred to me, just how do I go about telling a group of 12 yearolds my heartrending encounter with a dead Agama lizard.

An encounter that left me standing, stooped over a water well under the blistering sun for what felt like hours.

So I gingerly made my way to the first available seat, sat down, rested my head, shut my eyes and tried to calm my racing heart.

I don’t think I ever shared the experience with anyone in that school because while it was a terrifying experience, I also realised just how silly the whole thing was.

As funny and silly as it might seem, think of it as an analogy of all of life’s troubles. Those ones that keep us awake at night and leave us frozen at certain junctions, full of fear and uncertainty. Think of my experience as the many problems we are bound to face as we journey through life.

That Agama could have been alive and out of confusion could have hopped out and back into the water; someone could have noticed my predicament and stopped by to help; I could have missed the Agama and pulled the buga all the way up. The possibilities are endless and thinking about alternatives that could have occurred is quite pointless.

And so, what’s my point?

My point is that life happens and I consider it unfair to generalise people’s experiences or entirely lay the blame at their feet.

It’s still a mystery why lots of things happen but like some say, perhaps we’ll find out sometime in the future.

Pragmatically though, perhaps we’ll never find out and not as a result of any failure on our part.

But just because that’s life. Period.


*buga refers to the circular leather or plastic container used to fetch water from a water well. Buga is a word in Hausa Language

©Ọrẹolúwa Matemilola 2019 All Rights Reserved


2 thoughts on “My Encounter with an Agama 😣

  1. 😂😂😂This is hilarious.
    You’re definitely braver than I am because if it was me, everything including the buga would have ended up in the well.
    And you’re right, in the end, it’s only life and the best we can do is try to make the best decision in every situation.

    Liked by 1 person

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