Around August 2005, we were home on long vacation and that day was free for me, so I strolled to my classmate’s house and met him chilling at his mother’s pepper soup joint.
“Madam Gold” as she was fondly called was a jolly good fellow. Madam Gold had other friends who I didn’t know their real names. “Diamond lady”, “Essential Mummy” and the most jovial of them all, “Foreign policy”. They called her “Foreign Policy” because her husband was an importer who spent more time in China because of his business. Whenever he was around, he visited Madam Gold’s pepper soup joint to enjoy himself.
That day, the Son of Nebu watched as the husband of Foreign Policy entered the joint. I was excited because he often dropped some Naira notes for my friend and I. We spent the money at the nearest game house on PlayStation. But something was off that day. He looked sad and dejected.
As he sat at his favourite position that gives him the best view of Madam Gold’s backside, he shouted that it was over for him.
Few customers there asked what was wrong. Everyone knew him as a jolly fellow like his wife and quite generous. But that day, he said he was going to end it all. He didn’t want to be alive again.
When my friend’s mother pressed him for details, he told her that his container had issues on the sea and he lost his goods. If I still remember, he had goods worth over ₦200M which he said got damaged. In 2005, you can imagine what that meant for a business man.
He said he came there to eat his last pepper soup before going to end it all. Everyone begged him to take it easy while I sat at a corner with my friend without uttering a word.
When Madam Gold served him a plate of pepper soup that afternoon, she observed as he relished it and drank the water. She told him the pepper soup was poisoned.
The man became enraged and asked Madam Gold why she wanted to finish him. She said since he wanted to do it, she decided to take away the moral burden for him and end it quickly.
The man switched gears and said he wasn’t serious about those statements. He was just sad and never planned to harm himself. Just that he was feeling down as he borrowed money to import those goods. He was almost crying, but I noticed he still admired Madam Gold’s backside with one eye.
She told him she was joking and didn’t poison his meat. It was just a joke, though an expensive one to shake him up.
He heaved a sigh of relief and said it will be difficult for him to recover from the setback.
Sometimes in life, you get to a point where you have to make peace with your reality. You realize that it is okay to dream and wish, but certain things may not happen exactly as you want it and that is okay.
It hurts. I won’t lie to you but you just have to find a way to stay alive one more day and the day after that.
That was what this man did. His life changed and he was not the rich man we used to know. Gradually, he stopped coming to eat pepper soup and I stopped seeing him in the Mitsubishi jeep he drove his family to church with every Sunday.
I met his daughter recently at a small get together. I lost contact with his son, my friend after he relocated to Australia.
She called Son of Nebu and tapped my shoulder. They have same type of nose in their family and I couldn’t mistake her for anybody. She was always crying back then and never allowed anybody to touch her.
We kept in touch after the event and after a while she told me;
“Beck, you know back in the days, my father used to be a very rich man. I really didn’t know what happened. I was too small but I think we had plenty money from the way other kids and my teachers treated me. That suddenly changed at some point and I never got to ask my father why till his death.”
A man never tells everything to his family, especially his struggles and hard times. I don’t know if this is good or bad, but I know it takes a lot to be strong for one’s family.
She told me he was sick for many years and suffered partial stroke.
The stress of life and travails of living.
I hope life will be kind to all of us.
Till we get to the Promised Land, I shall be waiting for when you will pass me a glass of water and thank God for the gift of grace for the race.
A True Story by Martin Beck Nworah