It was the 10th of April, 2015, at my grandfather’s house, somewhere in Yaba, Lagos. A cottage with low fence and no gates; still standing as in the days of the colonial masters.I stepped out, and right into mamamia and Aunty Bunmi bargaining crab with Iya Alakan.
Iya Alakan was a regular at the house. I hadn’t seen her in over one year. I called at her quite loudly and joyfully, and went over to give her “crab-full” self a hug. She was so delighted to see me. She said in Yoruba: ah! Omo mi, oju e re, o to ojometa (ah! My child, is this your face? It’s being quite a while!). She said so smile-fully as she hugged me again and again. I replied, jokingly: Abi oh, Ma! O ye ke fun mi laakan ofe (truly Ma. You ought to give me free crabs for that). Everyone chuckled. She would respond (of course in Yoruba) by saying: I will surely give you; I ought to, without you asking; You deserve it, my daughter. Before blink one, she began to fetch crabs from her basket on-to her bowl. I immediately held her hands to stop her. She would say “rara o”. She soon handed me a bowl of few live crabs and fishes. I stood like… really?!!
It was one moment I felt like The Blessed. I felt like The Blessed because this woman, all she had- for sale, was a basket of crabs and fishes probably not up to N10,000; yet she found it somewhere in her heart to give me some as a gift- FREE. I was honoured. I would get on my knees to say Thank You; and asked for her to pose for the camera with me as I received the bowl- as though it were an award. (well, maybe it was, my award. LoL)
It meant a whole lot to me. The moment, The happening, and I would take some forever lessons from this:
-“People would kill for you if you treat them right; it’s common sense, not physics”. Henry Ford didn’t tell a lie. Maybe Iya Alakan didn’t even get a physical wound for me, but she chose to give me crabs and fishes for FREE. She could have chosen to sell them to the next customer instead- at least that would pay for breakfast.
I do not remember doing anything for Iya Alakan except to honour her. In all humility. I will greet her nicely whenever I saw her, encourage her when business was down or help her “find change” for her customers whenever I could. I learnt from this, that honour will open doors of access to you, be it with respect to your subordinates, contemporaries or superiors. It opened doors of fish and crabs for me today, but that fed me! And who knows? It could probably open the doors of Aso-rock tomorrow. The good thing is we’ve all got enough honour in us to go round. Let’s choose to be better people by using it. Honouring others equals zero cost and forever gain.
-Two, whoever said love and giving was only possible in the midst of plenty, unlike Henry Ford, is a liar. Love isn’t about how much you have, but about who you are. Love is in the big things, the little things, everything! Love, any way!
All she had was crabs and fishes, yet she loved me with that. All I had was a thankful heart + an iPhone 4s camera and a hug; yet I loved her with that. You should have felt her mood after we clicked a shot; she kept smiling at the photo and saying it was so beautiful…
I believe her heart was even more beautiful. -:)