What is little? Grammar books say “insignificant and unimportant.” Grammar isn’t life. It is an insignificant part of life. A huge chunk of humanity has no affinity with it and still does importantly significant things. Grammar’s opinion is wrong in the context of existentialism. Little things do matter. They could define milestones and kick-start legends.
Big things are becoming huge-for-huff, everywhere, including dear Nigeria. Dominant players on public space huff for nothing, their news and views; hollow, the feeling they bring; retching. None conveys genuine hope. Buharinomics? Sheriffmania? PDPinging? APConning? House of Representment? Forexempt? Ricevolution? All big things around are hope-snuffing. So, I turned to little things with big encouraging lessons. You will be amazed how much your immediate environment is filled with them. You possibly don’t know because the media-space fills your consciousness with those big-for-nothing hollers.
In recent time, I have seen enough to be hopeful. The land isn’t green right now and things that make all the news; very forlorn. So, my optimism could not have been founded on them, though I am not giving up on them. The corn-roasters on CMD road, Magodo, the fruit-hawker of Shangisha and the mama-put operator on Association Avenue are my hope-fillers. I have seen them do extra-ordinary things in this extra-ordinary time when even the rich are pinching every kobo. That is why I celebrate them today.
The first time it happened to me at where I will call Corn-Lane on CMD road, it stayed with me for a few days, maybe because I ended up paying. I parked for a corn-brunch and after digging my teeth into the invitingly hot stuff, the seller who should be in excess of 50 years suddenly realised there was no lower currency notes for my balance. My disappointment was palpable because I had started with the corn and even if I hadn’t, there was no way I would let it go. The stalemate was brief. She just offered the N100 corn free, instead of holding my N1, 000 and I to ransom. I protested, “Mama, it should be the other way round.” She would have none of it, “Oga, we no get but no be N100. You fit give me if you pass here again”. I objected again, “but you don’t know me.” She answered, “Ih no matter. Only God dey feed person.”
I would have none of it. I was bowled. I was ready to forfeit my N900 than go away with her N100. Seeing how adamant I was, she asked me to park well and be patient while she got “change.” She did.
The Shangisha fruit-seller became a “friend” for an uncommon act of “customership.” The night he, do I stress the fact that he is not of my tongue just like the corn-seller, elected to have me owe him instead of holding on to my balance, I am certain he would not recognise me the morning after, if I sit beside him. There was also no assurance for both that I would return to pay them. They just trusted ‘this customer in Toyota car.’
Hasn’t this nation trusted so many with our common patrimony to her unending misery, simply because they looked like ‘those who would not do what others did.’ Is her current journey with certain drivers not turning out to be a misplaced trust? Isn’t a blank cheque, given albeit blindly, turning out a bland act? I return to little things that matter.
As an emergency bachelor in Lagos, I have done both the classy and brassy in meal patronage depending mainly on my mood. There are times the classy isn’t just tasty for me. This affords me the opportunity of direct comparative analysis. There is a high-octane eatery in Magodo, the proprietress would rather hold your N950 balance for her N50 balance. She must have noticed that leaving my balance with her every time immediately she talks about “change” was due more to her perceived extreme “shrewdness” than having too much to care.
So, she told a story one day. A church member, (well, we are of same RCCG denomination), bought food and claimed to have left wallet at home. She allowed diner take food home, only to end with an unfulfilled promise of paying the next day. “It is months now and we see in church and she behaves as if nothing happened,” she ended her story.
I smiled, mumbled stuff I couldn’t recollect and left. She hasn’t changed and doubt if she would ever change. Her trust cistern is broken. Who do we blame? The fraudulent diner or she who is not letting go.
The mama-put operator in this story, does better food. Her cooked beans can last its lifetime when well-stored. Even when my face wasn’t known to the seller, he (yes, the husband dishes the food, the wife cooks. Don’t ask which ethnic grouping) refused flatly that my balance sleep in their pouch. Impressed, I dashed the kids the balance. They also became a family friend. These are people that should be mongering for money. These are the supposed broke, the poor who should hold on to every kobo, legitimately or otherwise. Ironically, it is the so-called “haves” that deliberately keep contracting kleptomania and disgustingly stepping down the virus to their offspring. May the Lord be merciful to them.
Argh. I gotta get out of her now. I write this on Fridays, but there is greater commitment this Friday. I must not allow her cistern of trust to break. Every other thing must stop for her. She is another corn-seller on CMD Road. On Thursday, I decided to snack on corn. Somehow, I branched in front of this “old” woman (likely 60 years). Yesterday was our first interaction and I’m once-in-a-season customer around there. I had not even dipped my teeth in when “balance” issue came up. She gave me no chance. “You go gi me anytime you dey pass,” she quipped and returned to her stall from where I parked.
She never left my heart. Her act of trust, which only the ungrateful would consider insignificant, simply glued to my spirit. She and her ilk inspired today’s “celebration”. They may never get to read this, but someone somewhere will read and may want to encourage such act wherever it is found. It could be the beginning of our national revival. My role is simple. It is to keep encouraging them, starting with running off now to pay Mama Alagbado her N100 and possibly more. I pray I locate her!