I had a classmate who was always brought out of school assembly for late payment of fees or no fees at all. Canned. Beaten. Made jest of. I would feel so sorry for her and worry about her parents. I was never close to her and couldn’t ask about them. I had my own struggles and just concentrated on my studies.
Few years later, I met her in my University. We became close. She looked frailer than we were in secondary school. She could hardly afford to pay her fees. Ours was a Federal university and our fees were relatively cheap, but she struggled year in, year out.
Sometimes, she would come perch in my room for a few weeks before she could sort out accommodation the University provided. She also did some side jobs; frying akara, selling extension weaves, laundry for her hostel mates and lecturers, running errands, cooking and all sorts.
While staying with me, she confessed that things had been tough for her parents since her father lost all his savings. Her mum had never been working as her father was responsible for all their financial needs.
They lost their house, they lost all they had, but for her father’s decision not to take she and her younger brother to a public secondary school, they’d have been forced to withdraw. They lived from hand to mouth and where I could help, I assisted her with money and foodstuff.
In our third year in school, after we returned from ASUU break, I never heard from her. All attempts to reach her on the number I had failed. I moved on and prayed for her anytime her thoughts came to mind.
Fast forward to few years later. Somebody messages me on Facebook asking if I remember her. She introduces herself and voila, it’s my old friend. We shared and talked. She told me how she eventually had to drop out of school because her father died and her mum followed shortly after.
Few months after her parent’s death, she received a call from one of her father’s old friend and classmate. He had been searching for her and her younger brother a long time upon hearing the death of his friend and wife. Her father had paid his fees when he was wealthy and was looking for them to say thank you, and help where he could. In his words, her father had been helped offset all his debts and it was only recipocatory to extend same help to his children, especially at a time they needed it.
This man sponsored she and her brother to study in the UK for their first and second degree. Afterwards, she got a job with a UK startup company and runs the Nigerian office. Her brother graduated tops in his class and he’s currently a basketballer.
When I was studying in the UK, we hooked up to meet and she had changed. She looked better. Everything she had gone through was in the past. The difference was really clear. Fresh. Sweet. Beautiful. She was oozing the good life.
I also visited her in Nigeria and she has done so well for herself. She drives her own car, lives in her own house in one of the highbrow estates in Abuja and runs a business on the side. She told me this is even a fragment of what she has. I was happy and amazed.
She shared a lot about the maltreatment she received from her parents’ relatives, the sufferings she and her brother went through and all sorts. Admist tears she said, “Omoby. Look at me. Remember when I used to come and beg you for garri and cubes of maggi. This is my house. I’m comfortable. I’m living my dreams. I’m happy. I’m content.”
We both cried and shared. She shared with me of how she was mocked and looked down upon, how people didn’t want to be her friend. How she was almost harassed by some of her dad’s friends when she went to them for help.
One thing I’m grateful for is that; I never looked down on her when she was at the bottom. I offered help where I could. I’m really happy to see how far she’s come. It’s almost unbelievable to realise that somebody in need yesterday is in plenty today.
My friend’s words were, “Omoby, if you ever need anything and I mean anything, please do not hesitate to tell me. You were there when we had nothing. I’d do my best to help wherever you need it”.
There’s one thing I would never do; to look down on anyone. The popular saying that no condition is permanent is really true.
A person who’s poor today may be in a better place tomorrow.
At that time, I didn’t help her because I wanted to get anything from her, I helped her because it was in my capacity to do. I had more and I could share. I lived in my own apartment in school and this was somebody who needed a place to stay. I’ve known too well not to look down on anyone; these are values my siblings and I grew up with.
In life, don’t you ever look down on anyone. The one who has nothing today could be in bounty tomorrow. And vice versa. Do not mock anyone of today’s lack. Tables could turn. That it’s a lack today doesn’t mean it would be same tomorrow or next. Or next year.
Please don’t look down on yourself either. If you have nothing today, this doesn’t mean you’ll not have it tomorrow. You shouldn’t give up on yourself. All it takes is God’s hand of favour to turn things around for you. And this could happen in a twinkle of an eye.
If you’re that person who makes jest of people’s lack because you have in bounty, you’ll be shocked when tables turn. If you think that it’s okay to mock a person’s sufferings or think that’s the end of their life, you’re very unwise.
What is it you have that the Lord hasn’t given you? Why would you make jest of another because they lack what you have? What would you take away from this world when you go? Nothing. Not your houses. Not your money. Not your gold. Not your investments. Not your accessories. Not your children. Nothing. You’ll leave empty.
Anytime I remember how life turned for my friend, I stand in awe of God and it has further reinforced my belief not to mock anyone for whatever they lack today.
Life is very unpredictable.