Matilda was in her room brooding about her mother’s ill health back at home in Nigeria. She fixed her gaze on the lamp on the bed table beside her bed, when she was brought back from her wander by persistent knocks on her door. Bukayo did not wait for response before she turned the knob of the door and bumped into the room, uninvited.
“yippeeee! Hey babe! What’s up?” Bukayo leapt into the room, full of life. She greeted Matilda standing before her, as she looked blankly at the floor with her head hanging downwards like a butchered cattle.
Matilda: “hi” she replied casually.
Bukayo: “what is the problem Matilda?” you look so moody. Is anything the problem? Talk to me now” She raised her lower jaw up, looking into her face.
Matilda: “see, babe. Leave me alone. You are still a small girl you know nothing about life yet.
Bukayo: “I agree. You are older than I am. Fine. But I hope you know that problem shared is problem halved? What about that? Besides, you have just spent few weeks here and you are brooding.
Matilda: “hmmm, whetin this one know. Problem no dey follow person come from im village? Abi I tell you say I no carry problem come from Nigeria? I no kuku blame you, your parent rich them dey give you everything, so whetin you know?“ She grumbled.
Bukayo: “Never mind if you don’t want to share whatever it is that bothering your mind with me. But I want you to know that I understand every damn thing that you mumbled.
Matilda: “no o. I am not insulting you” she said, to make the girl whom she supposedly thought would not understand what she had murmured.
Bukayo: “never mind. It is well. All will be well. It is just a matter of time. Before you know it now, all this will be a thing of the past.
Matilda: “yes I know. Thank you” she grinned
Bukayo: “yes. That is what I want from you. Smile! It saves a thousand souls and heals a wounded soul as well. So are you ready to let the cat out of the bag?” she asked, squinting her eyes like a toddler.
Matilda: “you know what?”
Matilda: “I just like you naturally. You are such an amazing young lady full of life, so nice and you have a good heart coupled with listening ears.
Bukayo: “awwwn. That is a compliment I guess. Thanks so much, I am flattered. So, tell me, what is the problem?
Matilda: “hmmmmm” she breathed heavily. “I left Nigeria for the Gambia in search of a greener pasture. I left university three years ago, did my mandatory service to my fatherland. I went to the university in the midst of lack and wants. My mother struggled for me especially as the first child and daughter after my father’s death while I was in secondary school. My uncle connived with some people and forcefully collected all that we were supposed to inherit from my father. He did not only do this, he sent my mother and us the children away from the house our father built during his lifetime. He sold most of my father’s property and sent two of his kids to school abroad, while he sent us, his brother’s wards to public schools. My mother did all manner of odd jobs to put food on the table, send us to school. I was able to scale through university through thick and thin. I did all I could to support my mum and younger siblings when I left university. I searched for jobs. Submitted CVs in most companies. I went for interviews, but, most MDs always requested that I had an affair with, and if I refused I would not get the job. The one I got before I left Nigeria, I was implicated by the manager, simply because I refused to sacrifice my body to him as a reward for the job he helped me to secure in the company. So, I got fired. And you know it is difficult to get jobs in Nigeria. So, I became jobless ever since I left my first job. As if losing a job was not enough, my mother became so ill, that we thought she was going to die. It was later we discovered that all the hard labour she subjected herself to were telling on her and we have been managing her poor health ever since. And my sister called me again that her crisis had begun, I have thought of where I could get money to send home but no way out my dear. How many do I want to tell people? Too many ugly memories to recount?” She narrated as she wiped the years that trickled down her face washing the kohl she used to line her lower eye lid with the back of her palm.
Bukayo: “it is okay dear. I understand how you feel”
Matilda: “are you sure? I doubt you do. You were born with a silver spoon in your mouth. It is written all over your body that you have never tasted poverty before. So, what do you understand?”
Bukayo: “I hope you know you don’t have to be in other people’s shoes or go through what they go through in life before you feel their pain or have compassion for them or their predicaments?
Matilda: “hmmm, you think so? If so, tell me what you feel about the deadly HIV disease, when obviously you have not been infested with the virus?”
Bukayo: “what if I say, I feel their pains more than the carriers. You see them anguish in pain, emaciating and living with the virus all through their life without hope of getting cured except some miracles happen. And they feel rejected. See, Matilda, I may not have experienced poverty, nor hunger or what have you, but I have couple of friends back then in high school whose parents could not afford three square meals a day. I knew how and felt what they went through. So, I believe feeling other people’s pain is just a gift. Being compassionate, I will say is a gift. So, I can imagine what you are going through. That is by the way. What is the exact problem now?
Matilda: “My sister called me to tell me that our mother’s crisis had begun again and they need money to treat her. Here I am, still looking for job. My friend does not really have my time, she is such a busy woman, so, I don’t really blame her. I am just putting my eyes down to know few about here, before I begin to send my CV (Curriculum Vitae) out to companies.
Bukayo: “but, before then, you need to take care of family upkeep, send money to treat your ailing mother. Or isn’t it?
Matilda: “of course I know. But, from where do I get the money?”
Bukayo :”Ask your friend. Or won’t she help, after all she is a big lady”. She suggested.
Matilda: “wow! Imagine. I never for once thought about it. It never occurred to me to talk to Wendy about it. Thank you so much for this reawakening” she said, and hugged Bukayo tightly to herself.
Bukayo: “it’s my pleasure dear. And if she does not help let me know. I might be able to help with something” she shrugged her shoulders, smiling.
Matilda: “aawww, that is so sweet of you. Thanks a lot.
Wendy visited Matilda in the guest house she had arranged for her prior to the time of her arrival.
Wendy: “I have spoken with the lady that I discussed with you to help with someone that will help with a job.
Matilda: “okay, thank you so much my friend, I really appreciate all your efforts and support for me so far. Only heaven can reward you. Words alone cannot express my gratitude and how happy I am.
Wendy: ‘hmmm, madam. E don do. What are friends for?”
Matilda: “that is even by the way. Something has been bothering my mind for some days now, but I have been wondering how I will talk to you about it.
Wendy: “what is that? Spit it out now
Matilda: “it is home, and I don’t want to disturb you for anything, despite all you have done for me. I don’t want to put my burden upon you.
Wendy: “Matti, will you go to the point and stop beating about the bush? And besides, have I ever complained to you that I am tired?
Wendy: “good, so why all this story? Tell me what the problem is now.
Matilda: it is about my mum. My sister called that she is sick and I remember she used to have her crisis before I left Nigeria. And I know how much we used to borrow from people to treat her whenever she fell ill.
Wendy: “if I understand you now, all these your plenty stories boil down to; you need money? Isn’t it?”
Matilda: “yes”. She replied, childishly, twisting her fingers.
Wendy: “is that what you find difficult to tell me? See, Matilda, we are more than friends now. We are sisters, so feel free to tell me whatever it is that is bothering your mind. I now you are yet to get a job, so, apparently, you can’t have money on you. Biko, feel free to tell me what you need o, pending the time you will start making your own money.
Matilda: “okay. I will be free to tell you my mind henceforth.
Wendy: “it is left to you. It is already late. How much is the money you need sef?
Matilda: I think hundred thousand naira will do.
Wendy: “okay no problem. We will go to bank tomorrow on Kairaba Avenue for the transaction.
Matilda: “awwwn, thanks so much. God bless you, and all that you do” she began to rain words of prayers, while her friend looked at her in amazement, mumbling A-men.
Wendy: “before I forget, we will go to see the lady that has a job for you tomorrow after the bank transaction. Her house is not even far from here, she stays close to the British medical research centre here. So, we will just drive from bank straight to Mariama’s house.
Matilda: “you are just too much. I love you girl’. She hugged her tightly, blowing her kisses in air.
Question: What happens next at Mariama’s house? Will Matilda’s worries be subdued?
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