Life had always been difficult for him

He wondered what offence he committed from heaven

That of all places he could have been born into

He came into his country of origin

He didn’t ask for any of this

He didn’t even ask to be born

If God would be fair in any way

God would kill him

He had tried to kill himself several times

He always chickened out at the last minute

Of what point is living like this?

His parents were the grand commander of poverty

Amongst the row of shacks in their community

Their shack was the poorest

His father and mother were the harbinger of poverty

If any of their neighbours encountered his parents early in the morning

They knew the sun would not shine on their endeavors that day!

At the age of fifteen, he had worked almost ten thousand hours as a farm labourer

The little he earned was to offset the debt his parents owed long before he was born

His was a miserable life

In order to eat meat, they had to dredge swamps for frogs

They had to plant cassava in order to eat starch

He had never tasted rice before

The first time he drank a bottle of Coke

He wept like a baby

It was as if he was sipping heaven

That moment was still the greatest of his life

When he clocked 18, the debt was completely offset

He had worked for 13 years to clear a 200,000 debt

All that while, his poor father was drinking local gin

And lamenting the fact that his mother couldn’t conceive another baby

It was the same routine everyday

“He wakes up, lamenting about not having another baby, goes out to drink. He returns, lamenting that if he had married another woman his lot would have been better. He goes out to drink some more. He returns drunk to eat whatever he sees and sleeps off threatening to marry a second wife!'

He was the bread winner for the family since he was five years old. The little he made as a farmhand even at that age was all they lived on.

As he grew older, he worked other people's farm and still cultivated any available land nearby with cassava, maize, vegetables and legumes for his family

His mother helped tend the farm while he worked to offset the debt

He never even thought of getting an education or learning a craft/trade.

The period between his eighteenth birthday and the twentieth were better. He was able to keep some of the money he earned as a farm labourer and felling trees for firewood!

He wanted to travel to the city

Get a better job

He saved

But life wouldn’t let up

His mother fell ill

They tried all the local remedies they know

She was eventually rushed to the hospital

When he heard the amount of money it would take to cure her

He gave up

He packed his bags

Took his savings and left for the city

He didn’t say goodbye to anybody and he couldn’t bear to watch his mother die

Knowing she was going to die was enough

He didn’t want to die without seeing the city

He took a canoe from their shack to the other village

Walked for six hours until he got to the motor park

Took a bus to the city


The city was beautiful

People were many, there were lots of big cars and big houses

He didn’t know anybody

That first night, he slept in the city motor park

He was used to eating so little

And the cost of food in the city was just too much

He spent very sparingly and always asked around for a job

Eventually he was directed to an estate

Someone needed a gardener!

He jumped at it

The Family was very wealthy

The woman’s husband was not around but she had a daughter

The woman asked him several questions about his background

He answered truthfully

He was given the job

He was to come around three times a week to care for all the plants in the beautiful garden

It was a good day!

He did the work diligently

Trimming, weeding and watering

The woman would sometimes offer him lunch

At other times she would give him some change for transportation

At the end of the month, she paid promptly

He resumed work one day and met some new plants

Somebody had given his madam some new pots of flower

He started watering and caring for the plants as usual

It was about six months after he started the gardening job

Somebody came to the house and told the woman

‘These plants are dying” your gardener has over watered them

What kind of nonsensical talk it that

Can somebody die of too much food?

Can a plant die of too much water?

All these people are the same

They pay you so little and yet would be looking for faults in your work

He apologized

The woman, obviously fuming, didn’t say a word

At the end of the month

The woman paid her one-tenth of the agreed salary

She said she had deducted the rest to make up for his carelessness

He begged and cried!

The woman just wouldn’t hear

She told him to go away and never come back!

He trudged angrily to the changing room

Why had he been rewarded so harshly for his dedication?

Was it because he was not educated?

Was the woman saying his life and survival is inconsequential when compared with her plants?

Was his life considered to be so insignificance?

His anger boiled over

He walked back to the house, kicked the door down and bludgeoned the woman with a metal pipe he picked up in the compound

The woman’s little daughter screamed

He struck her too

He went into the woman’s bag and took all the money he could find

She had thousands and thousands

And she denied him so little!

Wicked woman!

He kicked her lifeless body

Spit on her

He left

He went to the motor park

Took a luxurious bus going far away

He was “free’’ at last

 He could start afresh but he had money now and that would make things easy

The journey took three days

He got to a bigger city

A man he met on the bus and became fast friends with had offered to accommodate him

He stayed with the man

The man was into used clothes business

He followed the man to his shop

Studied the trade

Invested his money in it

Started sharing a shop with the man

Started making money

Started making friends and visiting the city

He got to do the thing with a woman

Life was great!

Policemen came one morning, He didn’t know how they knew where he was

He committed the sin in another life

Almost 18 months ago

Far, far, away

And yet, they stood right in his shop at that moment!

He was taken away!

He was beaten!

He had nobody to bail him

He confessed

The police did a parade

He told the whole world what he did

He begged for forgiveness!

“It was the devil”

PS: This story was a major news in 2009

The writer was at the police parade in Lagos, Nigeria