It was 3 A.M, and for me sleep was over with for the morning. Now, usually, when I am fully awake at such a time, I prep for a story or I continue with the developing ones. But before then, I would check some status updates, read my messages, and then view some Facebook videos.
That morning, I did all of that. Scrolling from one post to another. I didn’t know that I was burning much time. Finally, I did a time-check, Phew! And it was 4 AM. And I had not written anything yet. So I decided to quit surfing through. Suddenly, a message popped in, from a Christian brother, whom I was acquainted with, way back in my school days.
Now, I know he had an antecedent for what we call “corporate begging” in Nigeria; a bludgeoning franchise in Nigeria among some unemployed adults. They are everywhere, – in the cabs, on the streets, at the ATM stands, in religious houses- everywhere. I tell you.
They come in different shades of workmanship. Some have a refined standard of begging; as they speak impeccable English, and perhaps talk with its phonetics too.
For instance, this is what you are most likely to hear them say;
“Hello, my name is Gabriel Mason, I am a graduate of political science, from the university of Benin. Seriously, life has been unfair to me….”
At this point, I had always felt like telling them that life has been unfair to everyone, not precluding ‘life’ itself. But I usually restrain myself from saying that. I’ve often thought that whatever could make a full grown man or woman, with some education, stand on the streets to beg, must be some serious economic mishap, even if they had to often tell lies to enhance their craft.
Like I said earlier, they come in different shades of craftsmanship. While Gabriel belongs to a coterie of refined “demanders”, some are ruefully local.
These ones inspire pity and compassion from their looks or visible ailments. And their physique most times are not always beautiful to behold. Some are gory.
On a brighter note, some do collaborations. They team up to form some form of begging partnership and that’s all right. Since every Nigerian is entitled to freedom of association and partnership. So, gender affiliation and association, has no discrimination in this form of corporate begging trade.
However, there is this particular format, adopted by some beggars. They tend to strike an emotional connection with the prospective giver. For instance, one might say,
“Oh! it’s me Joromi, you used to be my senior back in school, Ojuelegba high school. Bro, you dealt with us o.” and then, he laughs out loud. Jokingly, sizing you and your reaction.
They’ll say all that to prime your affection; it is an emotional tactic. They’ll make you seem like the “baddest”, which in Nigeria is an irony which implies that someone is talented or good at something, either good or bad.
So these corporate niceties will goad your emotionality. And in no time, they’ll make you feel self-important. Like you really were the baddest when they knew you. At least, if you appear to be quite impressionable.
Sometimes, they cook up stories of your infamous childhood adventures. Such that even Fidel Castro’s revolutionary move in Cuba becomes a child play when compared to yours. But it’s all good. It’s just to make you part with something, no matter how small.
So, essentially, the business is not a lucrative one. It is just a side hustle, to meet some undercurrent needs.
So it was 4am.
And my notification had prompted a new message alert. A very odd time to chat with someone you’ve not physically spoken with in years. So this brother inboxed me on Facebook and WhatsApp. And I was like, I know how this would end. But I wasn’t expecting it that early.
For someone who wanted to establish connection of past experiences you both had shared together, wasn’t it quite commonsensical to get on with it anyway? For instance, you could start by saying “how are you, what do you do? And so on. But he was too conscious of his demands, that he wanted to hurry me.
This dude just casually introduced himself. “Hi” he started. “it is me Drey (not real name)”. For easy understanding, he added “Bro”, so it would appear kind of brotherly.
Actually, I was quite reluctant to respond, because I knew his antecedent. But you see, I expected that brother Drey had changed. Well, apparently he had not.
Of course, I felt I was spending much time on the media, hence, I exited the social media platforms in order to prep for my morning story. So I opened my virtual notebook, and I then shut my eyes. Funny, right? This is how I put myself into some thinking mode.
Almost immediately, an unnamed number popped up on my mobile screen. It was an incoming call. Strange, right? No name ID, just a number. Somehow, I guessed the caller. Apparently, it was the brother whose message I had not acknowledged, or maybe had ignored, if he chose to see it that way.
Brother Drey felt I shouldn’t have left him hanging the way I did. So he had to personally call me. At 4am! Well, that was really crazy.
So he called, and went straight to the point.
“Hello sir. Check your WhatsApp!”
So direct and authoritative. Well, I did.
The result of my checking is why you’re reading this.
Please, I am also begging. Not for myself, but for brother Drey. Who had intimated me that “nothing is too small.” It is only in Nigeria where a beggar begs another beggar. Things that we see when the economy is in shambles.
As he mentioned “nothing is too small”, my mind quickly went straight to my bank account. I recalled that I had some small figures in there. And then thought that if brother Drey would be appreciative, I needed only 20.34 kobo more to make a total of 200 naira. So if you could be of help. I might still transfer 100 naira to him, and allow my account breathe in peace. Because in reality, nothing is too small.(smiles)
However, I made myself clear. I hope he got the drift. I said to him. “this is a wrong time. But I’ll put you in mind”. Hope I tried?
The funniest part is he acknowledged that he had begged me in the past, which I passionately ignored. If he knew why I had ignored him the previous time, he would have felt so ashamed of his begging antics.
Now, I project that some of these motivational speakers are behind his begging histrionics. Perhaps he was only reacting to their catchy phrases of “Don’t give up. If anyone turns you down. Go again” or the “don’t take NO for an answer”
Well, I was not glad that I turned him down, but I was glad that I created my story anyways. And now, you are reading it.
It is so funny when you see someone buy a soft drink worth of 100 naira, right in your presence, and still comes to beg you for 50 naira to buy bottled water. Ridiculous right? Well, bro Drey exemplifies that incredible attitude, of spending large, living big, yet still begging deep.
Hello? Are you sure you are still reading this?
Please, don’t grow dumb on me.
Help brother Drey!
Oya, check your WhatsApp.