When the churning noise in my stomach became unbearable, I knew it was time to stop work and hit mama Nkechi’s canteen for lunch. I yawned, stretched, reluctantly turned off my laptop and got up from my desk.
At the bus stop while waiting to board one of the town’s shuttle minibuses, an unkempt lady carrying a child whose age should be between 2 -3 years, approached me to solicit for alms. She gesticulated in a pleading manner by half kneeling while pointing to her mouth to express they were hungry and needed food. Looking at the child she was carrying, I knew it was hers. The resemblance was striking. I’m aware there’s a racket for using babies for street begging. This didn’t cut across as such.
I opened my wallet and from the few notes in it I handed her a hundred naira. She thanked me for like eternity and continued on her journey, in search of the next giver.
Then, that tiny voice spoke to me: “Aren’t you going to have lunch now; can N100 be enough for you alone, let alone a mother and child?”
I immediately looked around and called out to her to come back, since she hadn’t gone too far. I told her I was going to add something to what I’d given her initially so they could get enough food to eat. I checked my wallet again and saw that I could still manage to spare about N500 from what I had in it.
Across the road was Mama Valentine’s canteen. We crossed over. I handed the N500 to the food seller and instructed her to sell food and meat worth the money to the woman and her child. I was about to turn to take my leave for my own eatery when I noticed the woman calling and beckoning at another woman who was about 20 metres away from us. The invited guest hurriedly trotted down to meet us. She was a beggar too. They started exchanging some tete a tete. And, just when I was beginning to think she was trying to be smart by inviting her colleague to come and beg me for her own share as well, they both came closer to thank me again only for the money I had ‘dropped’ already. No new request.
Then, she did what amazed me. She appealed to the food seller to sell the food in two equal portions with the money, so that her friend, who may not have been lucky to get such an amount, could have something to eat too. At that point, I wished I had more in my wallet to spare to them.
They trolled me as I left, praying and thanking me effusively.
As l sat in the bus on my way, it dawned on me that nothing could be more sacrificial than the kindness of that beggarly woman with a child, who invited her friend to share in her ‘windfall’ despite not having enough herself. God used her act of kindness to pass across a deeper message to me. Who could have ever imagined the magnanimity of her generosity to share equally with another in the midst of personal lack herself?
It’s a small story with big lesson. Life isn’t a stage for competition. It is not about who comes first or who has the most in possessions. It is about finishing. And, how well we finish is measured by how well we help others win. We must do away with our obsession with self and become an encourager with a goal to help others excel.
Heb. 13 v 16, says: “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
By Tayo Faloye. (2016)