Close to my house, an earth road dove-tailed into a path leading to a bar where the boys normally gather. When those on the other side of the city come to this bar to drink, perhaps get acquainted with one of us, he goes about to say ‘I am a friend of them’.
I don’t take my rickety car there; I like people to count me among the opulence in whose compound I live. So, I park at the terminal of the tar road and walk to the bush path leading to the bar to cool off. The very opulence boys know this and they avoid me like plague.
I was on this path walking quietly behind a tattered man. Perhaps, he was one of the drainage cleaners or whatever. I was piqued by the way he talked to himself. So I listen while I walked behind him as he was oblivious of me.
‘What kind of life is this?’ He said rather as a statement than question.
“Why is life so harsh and unfair? He continued.
“I called you before I left my house, I even sent you a text message with the only
N20 in my pocket that I was coming to
see you. You were there inside talking joyfully; yet you sent your men to tell
me that you travelled. I even saw you looking at me from your window; you did not
bother to call me in, at least for a glass of water. You call yourself my
friend, my classmate. It’s not fair”. The tattered man continue in his
“You can imagine the distance I trekked to your house, where do I go from here, what do I do?
Last time you came to campaign, you gave me your phone number and address that if I needed anything I should come. We crawled on our knees to get you elected. Ever since, this is my first time to try to see you, Chief Cain, why are you this wicked? Well, that is how life is.
“What do I tell my landlord? Six months I have not paid rent for the one room I occupy. ”My landlord has been patient with me. He is a pensioner and he needs the rent to feed his family and buy his medication.
“My wife and children are starving. They will not understand that I don’t have money, I don’t have a job. The wheelbarrow I push in the market can hardly buy our daily needs. Even at that, some useless boys are spoiling the wheelbarrow business for us. How can the market people be given loads to people who carry it on their back instead of wheelbarrow? Well, I don’t blame them, the market is too messy and we hardly have a place to meander with wheelbarrows.
“Yesterday, nobody hired me at all. It’s like the whole human race is against me. What I am going to ………? As he was trying to sidestep a puddle of water, at that point, the bath room slipper he wore got cut. He picked it up with a cry of “oooh oooh! Why, why, why? he said as he used the slipper to beat the air.
“I am going to kill this cobbler, I paid you
to fix this slipper yesterday because I have an important person to visit today
and the slippers could not even serve me one day. This is a bad job. I am going
to look for you everywhere. You must return my money, he said cursing the
cobbler that was not there.
N15.00 just like that! No, if I
had added it to the N 20.00 I used in
sending text messages to Chief Cain, that would have been two cups of garri and
groundnut. Do you know what that means to my family? You must return that
money, unless you don’t come around to work in my area again. I will surely see
What’s in slipper I could not fix myself? I could have saved that money if I knew how to fix things. But, I can’t do everything myself. I can’t even use my hard earned Polytechnic Certificate. Anywhere I go, nobody wants to employ somebody who major in secretariat study. Company prefer road side typist to me, why?
“How can I return home now? The landlord threatened to throw us out if his rent was not ready to day. Where do I get
(Three Thousand Naira) to pay 6 months’ rent? I have nothing to sell in the
house. Even if I sell our cooking stove, the pots and our only foam, I will not
realize up to N 1,000 (one Thousand
Naira) from it. Who will buy my dead foam anyway?
We were now getting close to the intersection leading to the bar and the one leading to the main road. So, I cleared my throat to draw his attention, and he jumped to a path of the road looking at me sheepishly. I greeted as I walked passed him and, while in front of him, I intentionally pulled the handkerchief in my trouser pocket and in the process dropping
N3000.00 (Three Thousand Naira) of N 1000 bill on the ground. At least, that would pay his rent.
“Oga” I heard the man called. I pretended not to hear him. He ran to me said “oga sir, your money, It fell from your pocket when you passed me.”
I turned reluctantly in amazement, so he could not take the “God given money” that could put him out of misery? In spite of his condition, a slipper in one hand and the money on the other hand.
“It’s not my money. I replied.
“I saw it dropped from your pocket. I thought it’s yours. Search yourself please.”
I pretended to search myself and I finally exclaimed, “Oh yes; it’s mine, thank you.
Why didn’t you take it, don’t you need money?” I asked him.
“Yes! I do need money so badly, but, not like this, that may be stealing”.
“Hmmm! You need a job?
He looked at me if to say don’t you know I need a job badly. So, I took him to my quarter and asked him to help me clear round it.