I set out to write something entirely different from what you will be reading now but I could not get this stuff out of my mind. It cut deep into the depths of my heart and almost ripped out the fundamentals of my beliefs. I have been through so many experiences since learning to be in charge of my life, but a few have helped to put my thoughts of life into perspective. I should not bother you with this but still I want to share it. You can look away and do something else or read on. I am absolutely sure your life does not depend on it.
If per chance the people affected by this piece get to read it, they should understand that this is nothing personal against them. I want to share as much of me that can help the other person learn a few things. That I am not giving away any names should help clear the air as to whether this was to take a dig at you. This is purely an act in good faith.
Two weeks ago, someone I had known for barely a few days came up to me and asked if he could stay with me for one or two days. When I asked him about where he stayed at the time, he told me his Landlady had wrongfully sent him packing. According to him, the only other place he could use was Sango Ota – a place not just too far away from Ikeja where he worked, but was well out of Lagos. This is besides the fact he’d spend about N1500.00 just for transportation. As it is always the case when people share their challenges with me, I was already engrossed in finding a way out. At that point, he had seized to be just another person; he had become a problem I needed to solve.
Solving this problem was not going to be easy. I lived with a married friend who at forty years of age is some sixteen years older than I am. I see him more like an uncle even though my ability to relate with much older people means I have them as friends. It is something I earned over the years. Even though his wife was in London, the house remained his matrimonial home. I told this dude point-blank that that was no option. This was a problem and it had become mine as soon as I started mapping out the options. There was another option. I had the keys to my friend’s uncle’s house. The uncle is in London and this friend of mine was writing his final exams. All I needed to do was ask him, then this dude would either get a place to stay or he’d completely lose out.
Then it occurred to me that, there was only one result I could work with. This guy needs a place for the short term. I have heard this one and I must do something about it. That is classic me. I have risked a lot just to make others survive or succeed. Some of the things I did, I still can not imagine what I was thinking doing them. I risked a lot to help people. I risked even my career and public disgrace. I take many dangerous risks for people and this was turning out to be one. I concluded there was only one way out – this guy had to sleep at my friend’s uncle’s house. If I call my friend to ask his opinion, two answers were possible – Yes or No. I needed a Yes at all costs so I decided not to call. I gave this dude the key and went ahead to describe the map and his movement. It was a risk but I felt since he was going to leave within three days max, then it wasn’t so bad. I’d tell my friend afterwards.
Everything went well and the dude later came to tell me how grateful he was and the fact that he had another temporary arrangement. I was so glad as I was never comfortable with the arrangement we had. He was bound to leave the house on Friday but he said he wanted to go to the new place on Saturday morning in order to familiarize himself with his hosts. That was not a problem with me. That meant that I’d get the key to my friend’s uncle’s house on Monday morning. I was absorbed in a project I was spearheading at work and a new plan for my site I did not realize I had not collected the key until my friend sent a text to say I should have told him about the person I granted a pass to stay in his uncle’s house. I was embarrassed. That was not the way it was suppose to pan.
Apparently, this dude continued staying there till the night my friend bumped in on him. When he told my friend I was the one who gave him the keys to the house, this brother-like friend of mine was nice to him, said his goodnight and headed for his room. When this happened, the boy who had not put me in the picture about his continued stay in the house called me at some minutes before 11pm. He told me to call him back. I told him I could not because I did not have enough credit to call. The line went dead and that was it for the day. The next day, I got my friend’s text message about allowing someone stay in the house and the need for the person to leave within two days as his uncle was Lagos bound. I replied to tell him the boy had since left the house – you’d remember he met the boy a day before he sent the message. What he knew and what I said about the boy having left the house simply showed one thing – I lied. I said what I said on the knowledge that the dude left the house days before the text but he actually continued to stay without my knowledge. He did not deem it necessary to tell me what happened the next day. He did not even bother to call me about the keys. As far as he was concerned his problem had been solved, there was no tomorrow!
I am left with the responsibility of making my friend understand the whole episode. It is a good thing – in fact a great thing –that I have a reputation with him. Issues like this are what make friends enemies and turn allies to foes.
Sometimes when you look at the result of being good to others, when you weigh-in what those who acted philanthropically in times past had suffered from their beneficiaries, one thing goes through your mind – What’s the point really?
I’d love to always find myself helping people and solving problems but I’d admit to you that it is a risk in itself. This last bit almost cost me a friendship I had spent time and resources to build. It portrayed me as a liar because I chose to believe another. It makes me wanna holler. Why is Life making me think twice about what I should not even think about? To help or not to help is not as much about the helping as it is about the cost of helping. Like Frederic Bastiat would say, some costs are known, some are hidden and unknown. The unknown is where the risk of being generous lies. Still, it is always better to err on the side of generosity – that is not to say this was not a dilemma for a while. It is no longer a dilemma because like water for my body and the word of God for my spirit – Doing Good makes me who I am. It is the essence of me.
The juice of kindness flows within me still, but I can’t but wish men would allow it be for a long time to come.