highlights one of the many situations a lot of Nigerians find themselves in,where they live in poverty and at such are subjected to a harsh life…however with the right choices made and a great deal of determination,a change always comes.
I was walking down a boulevard in london on my first visit,just enjoying the scenery as cool breeze carried me in a rush of excitement,when suddenly it seemed like I stumbled on a stone,it took me a few seconds to come to the realisation that I was dreaming and that what felt like a stone was actually my friend and room mate,Emeka who had kicked my feet in a bid to wake me up.
”o boy resurrect” emeka finally called out as he stumbled in the darkness to find a matchbox,mistakenly he had kicked the kerosene lantern and I could hear him curse underneath his breath,something I was now used to.
Emeka was a childhood friend of mine who had lived in the suburb of lagos for the past five years and at such had picked up among other things a couple of foul language,I on the other hand could be described as a village boy who just arrived at the ‘big’Lagos city two days ago.
I was still on the bed lost in thoughts of how I would be regarded as a ‘bigboy’ whenever I go back to my village,my thoughts trailed a bit and I remembered how everyone somehow held the notion that Lagos was a big cake-I was not here to dispute that,just to get my own share of it.
”guy shake body!” Emeka called out again,as he walked into the one room apartment we shared”i don put our container for bafroom door,na we dey number nine”he informed me as he grabbed a bucket to fetch some water,it was traditional for the tenants to wake up early to place their individual empty tins at the entrance of the bathroom and toilet as that was used to determine who used the facility next.
I stood up,grabbed the other bucket and followed Emeka’s trail,but I sincerely was disappointed with the living conditions we were subjected to,where well over twentyfive tenants were forced to share a single toilet and bathroom.
”where your mind dey?” Emeka asked,noticing my lack of response to all he had been saying.
”I was just thinking about this place” I replied in english hoping that he would stop speaking pidgin.
It seemed to work”all i’d say’ is get used to it or forget it”emeka replied with a distasteful look and I definitely got the message.
The rest of the morning we spent in silence and i could tell that he was unhappy with the fact that I complained alot,about waking up so early,about the type of job or should i say jobs we did and all but I could not help it,it did not seem like the kind of life I had signed up for.
In the morning Emeka and I were vendors,but unlike other vendors we sold our newspapers on the busy road,taking advantage of the many vehicles that plied that route,expectedly we had experienced so many close calls where we were almost knocked over,occasionally escaping with a bruise here and there.
It was a hard life but this was six months down the line and I was through complaining,either I had gotten used to it all or I simply comforted myself with one of Emeka’s numerous quotes like;”this is the evidence of a real man” or ”the road to success is rough and we have got to have tales to tell ours children of how we struggled to make it”.
In the afternoon however,we switched over to selling handkerchiefs and face towels on that same ever busy road,again Emeka had something to say,he called it being business smart and versatile.
”do you know how many people pass here everyday?” he once asked me
”so many i guess”
”exactly”he replied with the chuckle of a genius”and we know that this weather is very hot,coupled with the bad traffic that tends to build up in the afternoon ,what do we have?”
”sales?”I replied not sure if he spoke rhetorically.”
”that’s my boy”he replied in mimmick of a lecturer”lesson 101 in hard knocks of life” he added as we stood up from the shade were we sat to rest a bit.
Every evening after a hard day,we would go to a nearby drinking spot to unwind,this sacred act according to my best friend was what kept body and soul together,he always reiterated that it was essential to relieve stress and keep up with friends so much so I finally agreed with him.
I however still remember till this day the look on Emeka’s face a week after we returned from a visit to the village,when a doctor told us he would not touch Emeka who was seriously ill unless we first paid the sum of ten thousand naira,the reaction Emeka gave made it sound as though the doctor had asked us to empty our bank accounts.
”so na so private hospital be,abi?!”Emeka shouted in a voice that revealed both disguist and surprise.”never mind”he swop to english as if to show the doctor he too was educated”i’ll wait till general hospital opens again”emeka added abrasively before storming out of the doctor’s office defiant to his illness.
As I followed my friend out of the doctor’s office,apologizing on his behave,I thought about his situation and it was clear we did not have an ailternative since the public health workers had embarked on yet another indefinite strike.
After gathering all we had we were only able to raise half of the money,not surprising as we had lavished so much money on our trip to the village,desperately I sought assistance from all those friends we had been keeping up with but none came through.After hours of furtile efforts,I finally decided to ask my uncle who was a trader in the village for assistance and to my outmost surprise he agreed.
That was it,my mind was made up,three weeks later with Emeka convalescing I was back in my home town,as I now choose to call it.The past few months had indeed taught me great lessons,I stretched my legs and sipped from the drink I was holding ”Look at me now”I soliloquized”happy,stressfree and living good.”
My phone beeped and I saw it was a text message from Emeka,thanking me for all that I did for him including the money I sent,a smile formed at the corner of my mouth as I reflected some more,if my uncle was doing well here,in the village then the challenge was not with the place but the mindset.
It dawned on me more than ever before that the grass is never greener on the other side,but that merely the effect of the sun-ray decieved many to think it so.