At a particular point in my life I considered stealing as an option.
Yes. I do not blame people who go into crime. Really it is not their fault. If only you know the number of people suffering every single day, you will give glory to God for your life.
Just two weeks back, I was passing through a local restaurant when I sighted this little girl at the back of a restaurant here in Jos, eating from the left over’s of food which had already been eaten by customers.
This girl had to survive by all means. She had to feed. Hunger is no respecter of persons.
I watched as the owner of the restaurant ran out with a stick like a Fulani man, and chased the girl off like she was a cow. She rained curses on her and warned her not to come back.
The girl ran off licking her fingers. I stopped and starred at the restaurant, and then looked at the helpless girl who kept running.
At that moment, I remembered my life’s experience years back.
I walked the streets of Jos as a hungry little lad too. No food, nothing. Life was so hard for me. I had no money. This was immediately after my two bags of pure water which I sold to survive was smashed by a truck.
I would never forget how I walked pass Mallam Gobir table with my hands in my pocket. I turned left and turned right, and when no one was looking, I picked one Gala and swooped it into my pocket.
Unknown to me, Mallam Gobir was looking at me from the opposite shop. It was the first time I ever stole. I thought it was successful and so I ran as fast as my legs could carry me.
God knows I needed that Gala to survive. I had no other option.
When I had gotten to a safe ground, I sat down and loosened the wrapper. I ate the gala like it was a competition. It took just 3 seconds to finish a full Gala.
I was not satisfied. I began to regret why I took so much risk all for a mere Gala when I could have picked the big bread in his shop.
The next day, Mallam Gobir called me when he saw me passing. You will say I have so much boldness to have passed his shop again.
Yes I did. The truth is that when you know you are not a suspect, you will walk freely.
He asked me why I had stollen from him the previous day. I tried to deny but he stopped me.
“Eh eh. Zont Lie to me. Why you still my Gala and run away” he spoke in his Hausa intonation.
I had to confess. I broke down in tears and cried like the child I was. I told Mallam Gobir how hungry I was. I told him what had happened to my bag of water I sold.
I told him how I did not have money to buy yet another water.
He warned me and gave me a word of advise. He said stealing was bad. And I should never contemplate stealing anybody Item again in my life.
After he had finished, he held my right hands firmly, he picked up a wooden ruler and landed it five times on my knuckles.
I winced in pain and let out a wild cry.
He told me to shut up. He said sending me away without punishing me for my crime will only make me think what I did was okay.
Mallam Gobir did not let me leave his shop like that. No he didn’t.
He didn’t send me away like a piece of rubbish. He gave me three bags of pure water to start up my pure water business again.
I remember carrying it on my head and going to the road side to sell.
Did he know me? Probably he did, I do not know.
Was I his family member? No.
Was I related to him in any way? No.
I only knew his name after that encounter with him.
I was not going to contemplate stealing anymore. If he had not given me the Job, I probably would have contemplated stealing again, considering the fact that all I had to eat last night was just a piece of Gala.
But here was I working for my own money again. I was hustling to feed.
This is a system Nigerian government do not practice. They set a criminal free from prison after so many years, and then let him roam the street a Jobless person.
He goes round with an intention to change and be a better person, only to face the reality of a hard economy and a struggling society. When he can’t cope he goes back to his former life of crime. Months or years later he is caught and sent to Jail again.
I was once in that girls shoes. I did even worse things than she did. I couldn’t let her go.
I beckoned on her to come. She was reluctant. Probably thinking I was a police man. I pulled out three hundred naira note and stretched it towards her.
I watched as she slowly walked towards me knowing my full intention was to help her.
“Are you hungry?” I asked.
“Yes uncle.” She replied bending her head to the floor and fidgeting with her hands.
“What of your mummy? She didn’t cook food?”
“My mummy say food no dey house. She say make I go find where I go chop my chop.”
I heaved a sigh. No wonder this little girl had to eat from the left over of food from a customer’s plate. She was simply helping herself out.
Take this money, go back into that restaurant, sit down, oder for a plate of food and eat.
“Uncle the woman go beat me.” She cried out.
I understood with her. I walked into the restaurant with her. Sat her down. Ordered the woman who had sent her away to serve her a plate of rice. And she did. She kept starring at the girl and I.
I stood up, handed the money to the little girl and walked away.
While I was walking back home. I stopped. I did not know what made me stop. But I did. I was just a few distance away from the restaurant.
I turned and headed back for the restaurant.
On getting there, the little girl was no where to be found. The plate of food was left on the table.
I turned round the back of the restaurant in search of her, only to find the little girl washing the restaurant plate with tears in her eyes.
That day, I found out that the girl was being sent from the village to leave with her aunty. This was to enable her attend a good school.
Yes she attended a school as promised. But it was a government school. She lives with a wicked Aunty who maltreats her and beats her daily.
This same aunty was the one who made her work in her restaurant, starve her and chased her off that very day I saw her.
Even after buying food for the little girl and my money collected, the girl was not allowed to eat the food. That was something a real mother would never do to her own child.
That day I made a promise to myself.
No matter how poor I be. No matter what happens. My children will grow under my watch. We shall eat the little we have together, we shall drink together, and share the little together. We would not die.
No uncle or aunty is worth having my child. Some of these people are devil under sheep’s clothing.
Try to train your child yourself.
MY LIFE’S EXPERIENCE BY PRAISES OBIORA.