I walked past a television set that was tuned to AIT (Africa Independent Television) and some expected fall-outs from the current economic situation were being displayed. Among them was the increased spate in armed robbery. Then a house on my street got robbed in broad day light (I think), and the security company handling our house (which also handled the house that got robbed) were told to be more vigilant.
So imagine my dismay when this particular guard was posted to our house. Now this guard was all shades of incompetent. He left the gate permanently opened and I had to lock it repeatedly because he was nowhere to be found. Or when he was to be found, he was sleeping soundly, while people pounded repeatedly for several minutes on the gate. Or was it when the mechanic fixing my neighbour’s car became the ad hoc security guard, opening the gate without asking who it was. Or when some group of guys (who later turned out to be plumbers) just walked in without any “Ehello. Who is you find come?” question from him.
Then my neighbour returned from a trip. He gave the usual number of unhurried piiiiim piiiiim, but no one was forthcoming. He then leaned on the horn until his son came down from two flights up to open the gate.
I did not know when I carried my fever-razed body, wrapped the duvet round my neck, my hair looking for all the world like Ayawa in Sugar Girl; and went to look for the guard.
“Oga, where were you when the car was horning?” (Nigerian English)
“I went to buy shaving stick.”
The conversation from there, as with such things, did not go well.
Later that day, I ran into my neighbor who said, “I didn’t like what I was hearing this afternoon”.
I batted innocent lashes at her and asked what she was talking about. Then she said, “You have demeaned yourself by talking to an ordinary security man. You should know your status in life and not interact with such people of low status. They don’t have anything upstairs that is why they are security men.”
It’s easy to take umbrage at such a statement, and vilify the utterer with self-righteous indignation. But hasn’t she spoken what most of us feel, but don’t say? For those of us whose acts of generosity readily sprung to mind (like mine did), I have discovered that it is so easy to be condescending and be kind at the same time.
I remember once I overheard a security guard ask for money to eat, from someone who responded that he did not have. Immediately, resentment grew in my spirit for all these begi begi people who don’t know better than to beg. Still, I got up, feeling very gba jekin simi-ish (take and let me rest) which is quite funny as he did not ask me, and went to give him some money. As I returned and shut the door to my flat, I heard this fifty-something year old man crying and thanking God in gratitude for me.
I stood still as I heard prayers that only a mother would think of praying for her child. I sank slowly to the sofa and I wept. For the pride in my heart, for the need in his life, and for the man who was bold enough to say to God, “Because I am your friend, and You said anything I ask you would give me, bless her”.
One asked my neighbour for pure water; she said she did not have. Yet, you have bottled water or dispenser water. Are security guards above the grade of people that drink such? I sat there in my living room momentarily stunned but without a thought of doing anything to help. I heard a knock on my door, and he stood there asking if he could carry the bag I had left outside for days. Shame clouded my face, for myself and for my neighbour as I, mumbling, told him that I wasn’t sure it was still “pure”. He said he would take it anyway.
I have learnt to see unfulfilled needs in anyone, not as burdens but as cleverly disguised opportunities to be blessed and to learn to sow in discomfort and pain. Such that when food was requested for and the response I heard was something along the lines of this food is only meant for me; I quickly jumped up, brought out the food that I had gotten for dinner, shared it into two, and gave them half.
So permit me to celebrate the following security guards, cleaners and helps with more brains than some professors I know; who have with more heart than any degree can confer.
I celebrate you Mr. E., formerly Chief Technician at Nuel Ojei Holdings; owner of a duplex and boys quarters, whose son recently graduated from Landmark University, Omu Aran. May our friendship grow and may your love and care for me be rewarded. We would find a good teaching job for your daughter very soon.
I celebrate you Mr. T., formerly an accountant at Berger Paints, Head Usher and President, Council of Foursquare Men (CFM), Foursquare Gospel Church, at his local branch. You don’t look a day over thirty-five. No one would ever believe you are over sixty.
I celebrate you Mr. C., father of Valentina (so named because she was born on February 14th), currently pursuing his HND at a polytechnic. Your bespectacled face is always a joy to see at the gates.
I celebrate you Mr. I., newly married. I still owe you a gift and a visit.
I celebrate you Mr. AK., even though you started to fall in love with me, I hope someday we can be friends again.
I celebrate you Mr. K., who washes my car and runs away every time I try I try to pay him.
I celebrate you Daddy P., security with swag, who had to get a bit high on his wedding day because he was so nervous. As your daughter turns two, may God add more bundles of joy to your family.
I remember you, Aunty Ruka, from Togo and Aunty Zainab, our maids in the 90’s. I don’t know where you both are. But we miss you very dearly. We still speak of you often.
My pretty, pretty, Iya M., who cleans my office, whose dark beauty and pretty smile could light up a room. Stop trekking everywhere, o. It’s not healthy.
To Mrs. O. my washerwoman, another beauty whose sons would make any mama proud. Kayode would definitely go for his HND.
I know you all may never get to read this, but I pray most earnestly, that God who sees this anonymous “thank you” page, will bless you most particularly. You all, are part of my history. Your lives have given me so many
opportunities to be a better person and be blessed. I hope to continue to make you all proud of me.
I love you all.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime