Living in a metropolis like Lagos, Nigeria comes with its own challenges. Endless hours in traffic when you should have been in bed or sharing night stories with your kids, payment for epileptic power you rarely enjoy, school fees, job insecurity, fear of landlord throwing out your belongings in the presence of your neighbours while your wife and kids watch helplessly and several other vicissitudes of life. The list of worries is endless.
However my perception and approach to life changed when I came across two great personalities who helped shaped my sense of gratitude and reasoning in the last 10 years…
A former insurance guru who was hit by stroke (both left hand and leg paralysed). Six months later, he lost his wife, the only companion catering for his physical, material and emotional needs, to the cold hands of death. Dejected, frustrated and lonely, he has weathered (and still weathering in his wheel chair) the storm of life alone in the last two years.
I am always close to tears, every time we meet and hold hands at a quarterly meeting of career professionals we attend together. He is, perhaps, the most courageous man I have ever met in my life.
A young female professional I have developed so much respect for over the years. Lost her dad 10 years ago, mum followed two years later. Following the demise of both parents, her ‘beloved’ uncles, aunts and relatives who used to throng their home like a Mecca of sort dumped them to their fate.
* No scholarship
* No upkeep allowance
* No assistance of sort even for house rent
Rather than take to the world of begging or prostitution many feared, she and her little sister accepted their fate and relentlessly took up menial jobs to fend and pay their tuition fees. Both graduated from a prestigious varsity in Lagos three years ago and the younger one managed to get an appointment as a teacher (courtesy of NPower project). My young friend remained jobless for some time. To avoid prying eyes and chances of becoming a nuisance in the compound, she agreed to put up at a local government which pays a stipend of N10,000 (to a graduate o!!!).
One day, she went for a free health screening exercise two years ago and tested positive to the dreaded HIV / AIDS! We thought it was some kind of bad joke and counselled her to try the test again elsewhere. Three different clinics, same results reconfirmed what we were earlier told.
She was devastated!!!
‘How did this happen?’ she wept inconsolably. I was equally stunned.
Sometimes life is just cruel, I mused. How do you console this kind of persons. She was one of the closest beings to me and I don’t know or even perceived her to be the wayward type. Besides, she has a steady and healthy 3-year relationship with her fiance.
The development led to a chain reaction. The fiance panicked, got himself tested and from the moment the result confirmed him negative, he zoomed off and never look back. The only conclusion he could reached was that she probably got it from someone else.
While the world was waiting to see how she hoped to recover from the torrent of crisis plaguing her, the poor innocent thing picked up the broken piece of her life and started all over again. She pumped passion into her work (not minding the stipend and take her medication seriously)
Every time our path cross, I see a very confident woman. She is conscious about her environment, and to listen to watch or listen the latest inspirational musics or videos. Listening to her talks about her plans for the future, her outlook to challenges and vicissitudes of life, I am always wowed!
This is one heck of a courageous woman!!!
Thus any time I feel let down, weak or frustrated, all I need to do is to remember my two great friends and my inspiration instantly returns…