When I heard about the demise of Professor Gbemisola Agbelusi, a few weeks back I was very unhappy. I don’t expect people I know or knew not to die, seeing that death is a fact of life and even younger people die and have died, but just going through the tributes many have written for her alone will tell you that the world really lost a rare gem.
I didn’t come across her till my PART IV in Dental School. Her lectures were one of the few I understood in class back in the day. She was our ORAL MEDICINE lecturer as well as the HEAD OF DEPARTMENT OF PREVENTIVE DENTISTRY. She didn’t use “big vocabulary” like some other lecturers I knew and taught in such a way that a primary school student will grasp a few things from the vast world of work that’s Oral Medicine. She was one of those few Nigerian teachers who didn’t look at students as “failures before proven otherwise”.
No one passed through her without enjoying her slide sessions. Those sessions got my attention most times, seeing that I had (maybe still have) short attention span, as I was easily carried away in thoughts and daydreams during lecture classes. Dull students like me would draw those pictures shown on her slides, especially the histologic and microscopic one, sometimes the macroscopic especially of the tongue where several lesions were described with varying colourations, and patches, ulcers and the likes. I would then go ahead to name them according to things I saw on a daily basis like pieces of fabrics, artwork, and the likes just so I’d remember what each looked like during exams.
I wasn’t close to her during the two years we had cause to pass through her department on one academic occasion or the other, but those close assured us that besides her unassuming nature in class, she operated an open door policy. My encounter with her on a personal note was one which I didn’t emerge from without been touched, infact it left me with a MANTRA that guides me till date, so much so that once, out of the joy I had gained by living off that mantra, I posted an update on Facebook (months before her death), calling out her name by way of showing my gratitude for her advice, for which TOYIN ADETUBERU puzzled, asked me if anything had happened to her. I assured her that there was nothing of such (atleast none that I was aware of), hadn’t even seen her since we graduated, but that she gave me the words to live by, which today had become my mantra. I however did not tell her the story behind my mantra.
It was in my final year, PART V of Dental School, when we were assigned FULL CARE PATIENTS (that will have to pass through all the units of DENTISTRY/DENTAL SCHOOL) that I had the life-altering encounter with Dr. Agbelusi. Naturally, all patients will pass through her unit via ORAL DIAGNOSIS, and though I didn’t make my presentations to her initially, my indiscretion landed me in her office.
I had become disenchanted with the prospect of becoming a dentist in my penultimate year, and all I just wanted to do was to graduate and get my hands on other things. By my final year it was becoming almost impossible to graduate because my spirit was willing but my body was weak. I couldn’t meet up with deadlines because I was preoccupied with distractions. It was even miraculous that I’d done most of what I needed to do by the time final exams were just a matter of days.
I started work with my Full Care Patient (a female Septuagenarian) quite late, hence I had very little time to finish with her, less than two weeks (if memory serves right) to clerk her, make diagnosis, and manage her. Her management involved, EXTRACTION of two or three mobile teeth left in her mouth, then the fabrication of FULL DENTURES to replace the teeth in her now EDENTULOUS MOUTH. I had factored the time the extraction socket would take to heal, time to take an impression and all the procedures involved including the back and forth involving the dental laboratories, and jaw measurements and alignments before the denture would be eventually delivered and I would be signed off.
In my haste I hadn’t bothered to take her medical history, and it turned out that not only was she hypersensitive, she was also diabetic, unfortunately the Senior Registrar supervising my work was the sort that arse-kissed to authority for favours, and promptly reported me to Dr. Agbelusi, rather than reprimand me, which was within his power to do. I wondered what he expected Dr. Agbelusi to do to my unserious butt.
I expected the worst from her when I presented my sorry self to her office, but rather than insult the life out of me, or ensured that I didn’t graduate like one lecturer had once threatened me, and as was norm with many others who had the power, for which many dental students paid with extra years in school, she schooled me on what I’d done wrong and the possible implications and consequences that could’ve been the outcome of my treatment plan had I continued on my improperly set-out objectives.
She left me with a phrase to ponder upon that day, after softly speaking to me, and that was the fact that, “THERE IS NO HURRY IN LIFE”. I was more shocked that she didn’t reprimand me or satisfy the longing of the boot-licking Senior-Reg, to bother as to whether one should hastily career through life or do otherwise.
I graduated eventually after reseating a course (not in her department, a story for another day) in final year, then ran life for three years without acting on her advice to my great regret, before deciding to run by the principle she had handed me. Twas last year close to a decade after I graduated that I measured my achievements since I made her advice my Mantra, that I put up that post in gratitude to her, that jolted Toyin and DICKSON IYOBOSA AIYUDU.
You can imagine my shock then when I learnt that she had died months later, and I hadn’t had the opportunity to thank her for what she did to my life in a few minutes of that encounter with her. She is not dead to me. She couldn’t be.
May YAHWEH grant her family the Fortitude to bear this huge loss.
Picture Credits: BUKKY OLATOSI’S FACEBOOK WALL