I’m lurking around the corridors of my college building one day, it’s a few minutes before my class is going to start and I want to see whether some stifled breeze and earphones can soothe the pain the heat is causing. Suddenly a woman walks up to me and reprimands me for snubbing her.
She’s a huge woman, probably in her late 30s or early 40s. I apologise to her and explain the volume was turned up and there is no way I would have heard her. I can tell from her face that my apology is far from accepted and that wrath is also close by. To my surprise she politely requests that I follow her to her office and strikes up a conversation about the misuse of earphones by “your generation”.
As we enter into her office, I’m half scared because I don’t know who this woman is and I just followed her into a set of offices I’ve never been in. By default I glance around thinking of the fastest escape route should she charge me, I find it; behind me. She spins around quickly and I’m half ready to break into a sprint when she says “I need your help.”
“My son was admitted into the hospital” she says, “the bill is N24, 000.” “I took a loan before that and for the past 3 months my salary has been N3, 000 after removing the payment for the loan.” N3, 000 is not a lot of money in case you aren’t a Nigerian, I spend about N5, 000 on an average week in school on feeding alone. So at this point this woman has my undivided attention.
She goes on to tell me how she had to borrow money to offset the bills and could only come up with N17, 000 and anyone she knows that she hasn’t borrowed from is also heavily in debt. Because of that the hospital (not the university hospitality) took her laptop as collateral to let her son go home with her. In a few days she would have to present a very important document to her boss but that document is on her laptop and she’s scared that her job would be on the line because of N6, 000.
It’s really unfortunate the places life pushes humans to, here is a woman my mother’s age, begging me to assist her to raise N6,000. Life is unfair, annoying maybe even a little bit wicked. But it’s life and we’ve got to live it. I told myself as I left that woman’s office, greatful not to have gotten into trouble or even kidnapped but sad for the tale I witnessed, determined never to Find myself in that situation. All I could do was say a little prayer for her under my breath.