Never Lose Hope

"The people who matter most in your life may not be those flocking around you. When things are going well for you, all your imperfections are forgiven. Everyone will identify with you. When your life nosedive, you are on your own"

He looks at the time. It was 11 past 11 in the night of April. He has been still for hours, looking at the ceiling of his one room apartment. He was weak and at that instance, he remembers he is  yet to eat anything that day. His tummy stirred as he swallows his saliva as if it will satisfy the empty stomach.

Suddenly, a noise erupted from nowhere: "UP NEPA!!!" He needs one to tell him what that was. Though he hated the noise. It is the tradition that is as old as Nigeria itself. He made to switch on the light and... "clacks" damn!" The bulb is burnt. He remembers he'd lost it earlier. Now this is double problems. Hunger on one hand, darkness on the other. He has seen it before; but tonight, he needed this more than anything else.

Not knowing what to do, he glanced at the watch. It is getting near the midnight. He slowly went to his cooking pot, as if checking whether he can find some miraculous food. Disappointed, he looked at the fridge to see if he left something there. Again, no luck. He went out of his room. Everyone is retiring to bed. He paced to and fro and scanned the kitchen for leftover. Seeing nothing, he returned to his dark room.

Phone rang. He checked the identity of the caller, A creditor!  He owed him 5, 000 naira and he will be collecting back in three days time. He ignored the call and let it ring. It stopped. The second phone also buzzes. Same person; same trouble. He ignored that too. The last time he spoke to him on phone, it was humiliation and treat. He eventually gave him Friday noon to repay or face the music.

Music? He chuckled, sardonically. Wondering how the greedy man would punish him. "It is not his fault,” He soliloquised. “When ‘scorpion,’ as he nicknamed him, ‘’needed money, he ran to him for help and he emptied his account to help him. He demanded neither gratitude nor refund. Now he is breathing down his neck over 5, 000 naira despite knowing his situation. 5, 000 naira!?” he shook his head sadly. Tear streaming down his cheek.

He sat down on the edge of his bed and pondered on how he got here. A bad business in the office led to his dismissal and his accounts and belongings confiscated. He was framed but he had no witness and no proof. He tried securing a new job after that but he soon develops an unfortunate illness which drained the last cash at hand. His only functional account has been confiscated pending the outcome of further investigation to the failed transaction.

He has moved to this single room in a family house after his rent at the other house expired and he sold his belonging. His girlfriend had jumped ship and terminated their engagement on flimsy excuse to hook up with another man.

Life looks like a hell on earth. Everything looks like trap, but he didn’t know how he landed in it or who pushed him. "Is this not the same me everyone ran to when in difficulty?" He asked, shaking his head. Friends, strangers and all came to him in drove for one assist or the other. He'd never turn away anyone even if it means spending his last coin. Life is teacher. He philosophise.

As he sat on his bed, he recalled his recent humiliation in hands of "friends" who used to flock around him. All of a sudden, they started “travelling.” “Not available.” “Line busy.” “Please call me back later.” “Network problem.” “Sorry, my mother is sick and need my attention.” “My business is not going as before and I need to borrow to replenish my stock.” “My child school fee has not been paid.” “I am also sick.”

And of course there are those who are blunt and told him they don't have money. You caused your own problem and I can't share with you. After all you spent the “loot” alone. Some even said they are not ATM or Bank.

In the end, he stopped asking for help. A help came from the unexpected quarters. One Baba Eleran (old Butcher) who he'd never really gotten close to until he landed in trouble though he'd knew him for years and a Suya seller were his major friends and comforters together with an old woman who grinds pepper at the other end of the street. These, apart from the Suya man, are old and the people he didn't associate with when things were going well for him. They found time to talk to him when he was down. Even Baba Eleran as old as he is, found time to visit him at home. He once joked that, "I am doing this so that you don't commit suicide". He laughed, but to him, it wasn't a laughing matter as he would have done so if not the companionship of the aged he kept.

"In life," Baba Eleran told him in one of his visits, "the people who matter most in your life may not be those flocking around you. When things are going well for you, all your imperfections are forgiven. Everyone will identify with you. When your life nosedive, you are on your own"

"Never think that all those who rejected you are bad. They are not bad. They are only practising what the society foisted on them and which they are too eager to be active participants"

"Look at you," he paused. And Tayo looked at himself. For once he noticed he has been weeping. Hot streaking tears pouring down freely. The old man didn't try to stop him. He watched, understandingly. And then continued.

"Son, you are a real man! I won't ask you not to cry, because your tears are natural and normal. I was once in your shoe. I went to school and graduated. This experience will make you a better man in future. You have a kind heart and the world needs your type. This is why I cannot afford to leave you alone because you will one day be a blessing to your generation."

"Blessing?" Tayo spoke, still weeping and uncontrollably. "Blessing? Of what use is wristwatch to a prisoner on death row?"

The old man chuckled.

"At least he can keep a date with his execution hour" he laughs and for the first time in a week, Tayo smiled, albeit for a short while.

"Tayo, life is a teacher. Even if you have been condemned to die, you won't leave this world without giving it your best shot. Never lose hope!"

The message hit him in face. And at 10pm, Baba Eleran made to leave and the tucked N200 in his palm. Tayo was just more than grateful. He prostrated and Baba left. “Always remember you are special.” He said as he took his leave.

That was days ago. It was Suya man later. He offered to give him free roasted meat but he declined since he is a vegetarian.They joked and talked and both were lively. He even helped the Suya man in a couple of business advice.

Mama as she fondly calls the pepper grinder was soft and quite inspiring. She spoke of her life when she first married and how she had nothing. And he late husband was in financial mess. She spoke of her challenges and how she overcame them and how she has survived raising her kids from the business of grinding pepper and at times selling roasted corns, or cherry depending on the time of the season.

"I have been in this business for over 30 years, I can tell you something about life; 'it is for living and everything comes while you may not notice. Good and bad!' Learn to live a day at a time and be focused on your mission. Hard times come just as the good times. You will have to decide how you receive both without losing your identity. You are man."

"Many of you think all you need is money and money and more money. The more you get, the more you wants. You worked so hard and chase money so fast. They came. And along with your rich csme its peculiar challenges. Friends, foes, traitors... You become the centre of their attention. Everyone wants to be with you. In so doing, you got carried away and forgot to see what lies ahead and what was behind. You are in a fast moving train. All your attention was focused on what was immediately before you. Your destination. You friends. Your family. Fame. Etc. Beyond these are the unseen which you can only see if you have clearer vision and live with wisdom. It is only when trouble comes knocking that most of you bother to see clearly.

"Many of you will even relocated from your immediate environment as soon as you make it big. You will move to Lekki, and other big estate while thinking the ghetto you grew up in and the villages are for the lowly. One of my sons even vowed never to let his children live in such places. You know what I told him? "You could as well tell your children never to visit your parent as if you were born with silver spoon 'oponu' (idiot)! I had to talk sense into his head and I am glad he listened to me.

"Look at that boy" mama pointed at a boy playing football not far away from them "that is his son and he is here to stay with me for a while.”

“You 'alakowes' always do things in ways that sometimes hurt you. You earn N100,000 per month and you still have no peace of mind despite living inside expensive house. You fenced your house and prevented free air and enclosed yourself in air-conditioned room while giving your children expensive education and forgot to impact them wisdom. You give them tv and computer games while in our days, it is folklores. And those folklores among others gave equipped us to handle the world challenges. Some are funny, entertaining but they always come with lessons.

“You invested so heavily in junks from America and that is where your money are going. Look at me, my first child is older than you just as my second child. I sent all of them to university from this house (pointing at the house) and from this business (grinding pepper). Only their last brother did not complete his school and that was because he was dull. We decided it is wise not to waste money on him.

“Your life is what you make of it, Tayo. I know your mother to be a good woman. And I understand how she feels about you because I am also a mother. Salami (her first son) spends 4 years looking for job. It was a tough time but I did not pressure him. I knew by the grace of God he will find his calling. And my God did it.

“Your situation is temporary. It is a test which you must never flounder and you must never allow anything derails your life. When God wants to elevate you, he will test you by taking you to higher platform and then drop you. You are on your own. Friends, family may not share with you because not all of them are real. Some are other there when things are going well for you. It is your duty to pass your test.

Then she look up. The cloud was covering the sun. “Look at the sky, Tayo. You will notice that the cloud is covering the sun. And casting a shadow across the world.” Tayo nodded. “That is the same with your problems. All human problems. The cloud covers your sun. No matter how long it stays there, it will eventually vanish. The sun will patiently stay in her position and focus on her mission which is to radiate light. When the cloud vanishes, the world will see the light.

“In the same manner, those below, on earth see the darkness when the cloud cast her shadow on them. Some will be patience, while some will start scampering, looking for light, others will look for shelter because they will be expecting rain and still others will prepare to receive the rain. Others will just wait there and wait till rain descend and beat them all in the head.

“After every exam, there will be result. When your trying moment is over, you will receive your report card in proportion to your faith, determination and your ability to wither the storm. No problem ever leaves you the way it found you. It will either leave you in better or worse condition. The choice is yours.

Tayo nodded approvingly at the recollection of mama's talk. He was moved. Though still hungry. He resolved in his mind. I will not die yesterday! It is well with me.

He looked at the bulb again. He ignored it. He picked up a candle and lit it. And then a pen and paper. He wrote his memo and then drafted a job application letter. Hunger vanished and he slept soundly with smile on his face but the tear still flowing. And his heart still singing slowly “It is well with me”!

To be concluded.

Isqil Najim @isqilnajim


  1. Hope truly never dies.. Thank you sir sharing this amazing story. More wisdom to pen down more, sir.

  2. Inspiring������������


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