I am not the kindest person you will ever meet, and I have no idea how my friends put up with me. My instinctive answer to every question is a rude one, and I rarely apologise for it.
Last year, during the strike that closed down all public Nigerian universities, I was home with my family when I heard a knock at the gate. I went to attend to the visitor albeit reluctantly, and found that it was my old primary school mate who I had been out of touch with, and who had come to seek assistance. She asked to borrow some money, and I told her I did not have it(I lied). In retrospect I wish I had given her the money tucked in my back pocket, the last of the holiday’s savings and somebody else’s random act of kindness. By the time I got back into the house and told my mum, she was so mad at me and scolded me for not doing the right thing by her. I went back out to look for her, but by then, she had disappeared and it was too late.
It did not end there, when my dad got wind of it, he ordered me to find out where she lived and to get her to come over to our house for lunch. I did find her house and went there a couple of times to check up on her but I never met her at home. If I got a second chance to do things differently; for starters. I would invite her into the house, and offer her a glass of water, and listen to her challenges and problems as a single mother of two. I wonder sometimes what she thinks of me, and if she still holds that incident against me, or if the fact that I tried so hard to reach her made any difference at all.
My roommate and I do not speak to each other, apart from polite and slightly forced ‘Good mornings’ and ‘hi’s’. You would think that after that incident, I would have learned my lesson and offered people the littlest act of kindness, the kind I wanted for myself. I cannot really say it is totally my fault though, it does take two to tango. The odds were not in our favour right from the beginning, but in our defence, we are two very different people with separate interests. I am not the conversational type, especially not with people I am not friends with, and I could stay for hours or days without speaking if I had to. She is the exact opposite and is quite bubbly. She was always eager to give unsolicited advice about my personal life and tried to get me to talk about myself. Random seeds of unkind acts were sown, and bitter fruits were reaped. I tried to make peace by speaking out about a particular incident that wounded my ego a bit, but it did not really work and now we are at an impasse, one that we are both unwilling to break.
So it is going to be just ‘hi’s’ and ‘hello’s’ until we switch rooms and this time around I am going to work extra-hard to change friendless greetings to warmer and much kinder ones even if that is all I can manage.
I am inspired daily by people who live their lives in the service of others and put others before themselves and gradually I am allowing the Potter’s hands to mold me, break me, and mold me again until all that’s left of me is a broken spirit and a contrite heart.