If You Don't Believe Me, Just Know That They See You



Forget!
For one moment, forget the yellow buses and the exhaust pipes that sigh painfully for their lost youths. Forget the woman standing motionless at the bus stop, staring blankly at nothing. Forget the man preaching in the bus; he might not even practice what he teaches. Forget the agbero that drags bus conductors by their trousers. The one problem God gave him is tickets, so let him distribute them. Forget the noise, the traffic, and the man claiming rights after bashing his neighbour's car. Forget everything bad you currently harbour in your mind about the city of Lagos, for it is the ONLY Place in Nigeria where every Nigerian HAS THE RIGHT to MAKE IT.

If you don't believe me, just know that they see you!

They see you and they know you!

They see that you are a student and they know your big boy depends on the stipends your parents give you. They know you need to buy recharge card to call your girlfriend, so they smile, even though you walk past them with a straight face. They see that you are a policeman and they know how stingy drivers have become these days. They know you must have exhausted all the spit in your mouth before you could gather enough money to buy that Bigi Apple and gala, so they bear no grudge against you when you shout and tell them to move aside. They see that you are a banker, a rich man, maybe a wannabe, and they know how complex and confusing the signatures of customers who have nothing in their accounts can be. They know you have imprisoned yourself long enough in that tie, so they feed your ego by calling you "oga."

But you don't know them. You see them but you don't really SEE them. So I'm going to tell you about one of them.

When he was three years old, he lost the use of his limbs to polio. At fifteen, his parents and family abandoned him to his fate, so he had to hit the streets to fend for himself. That was what brought him to Lagos in the first place, and no sooner than he arrived that he linked up with some Hausa men who taught him the supreme code for getting rich. Begging.

After five years of being pushed around the streets of Lagos, he had gathered enough money to buy a second-hand bus which he gave someone to use for commercial purpose. This, my dear friend, is how the narrative changed.

Now, he has twenty buses, a sachet water company, five houses, four wives, eighteen children and he's gone for hajj about three times. And guess what? He's still in Lagos, now the Sarkin Maroka (King of Beggars) in his locality.

Please don't mind my manners. All this while, I've been ranting about ALHAJI Umar Dikko, that man you scoffed at in the streets of Ajegunle.



By now, I'm sure you think you already know where I am headed. But you are wrong, my dear friend ... again. You think you see, but you still can't SEE.

THE IRONY OF IT ALL

This isn't about Dikko; it never has been. It isn't about painting Lagos with "THE COMMERCIAL CITY" graffiti. No. It is about YOU! Just you and the way you perceive humanity.

We live in a world where people have to define their worth before we show them basic courtesy. There is nothing left of humanity save INTERPRETATION.

An Hausa man is labelled "aboki" or "mala" until we know he is the son of Dangote in disguise. Then our interpretations of him change, and, suddenly, we know that the correct spelling of "mala" is "Mallam" and that "aboki" actually means "friend." In no time, we might even change the title to "Alhaji."

A man may speak rudely to a fellow man just because he rides okada. But when he realises that the okada man owns the house, in which he just rented an apartment, then he starts to greet him.

A teacher pets the kid he coaches at home. He works tirelessly and patiently to make sure this kid understands every bit of what he's being taught. At home, he spanks his nephew just because he writes 3 without showing the curves properly. Where is that patience with which he taught the first kid? INTERPRETATION. He interpreted the two kids differently and he thought the former deserves a better treatment. Keep the reasons to yourself.

The same thing applies to Alhaji Umar Dikko. Don't tell me the next time you see him, your attitude towards him won't change. Even if your ego won't let you tell him, "Baba, give your boy something!" You probably will give him the best grin your mouth can produce. INTERPRETATION. Look at how a piece of story changes the way you look at him, the way you treat the beggar you would ordinarily not look at. Did you even notice I added Alhaji to the name of this beggar?

If you think I am going to start a long lecture on how to stop these INTERPRETATIONS, then you still can't SEE my dear friend. You are wrong.

It is true that everybody deserves to be treated with humanity, BUT NOT EVERYBODY'S GONNA GET IT, at least not on the same level. This is how the world works my dear friend. It is part of being human. The way we interpret people determines the level of humanity with which we relate with them.

But that doesn't mean we should make our interpretations obvious to the one being interpreted, especially if he belongs in the lower levels. Even if you are still going to treat someone with a higher interpretation better, at least don't make the other man feel less human.

And if you are still not convinced that these interpretations are inherent in the human nature, then I won't judge you. I will let you judge yourself when next you come across a beggar and you are faced with the decision of whether to help him or not.

But remember, my dear friend: If you don't believe me, just know that they see you.

PS Inside Life (ninu aye) is new on this blog's menu. It is where we explore topics that make you wonder: Wetin Musa No Go See For Gate. We feature it at the beginning of every week (Sunday/Monday). Thank you for sticking around. We love you.

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2 comments

  1. Replies
    1. Awwnnn. This is sweet. Thank you Dean. Please stick around for more.

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