The Roadside

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Lagos – always ever busy, you will frequently observe a high concentration of people moving in different directions in attempt to meet up with their daily endeavours. During the rush hour between 7Am and 8AM, the bus stations are usually characterised by pandemonium with commuters struggling to get out of or into buses.

It was Monday morning. Funmi had set out for work since 6AM but the Monday traffic jam had caught up with the bus she boarded. It was really a slow journey. By 7:45AM, the bus had reached the popular CMS bus station; Funmi alighted and walked briskly towards Broad street where her office is located. Although she appeared composed and focused, her mind soared deep in thoughts – attempting to evaluate how to handle the day’s tasks and still make it for a business meeting later in the evening.

Funmi was barely fifty steps from her office building when her mind was brought to consciousness by a road side beggar. The beggar was in his 30s and looked so pale and sickly. He was dressed in dirty and undersized garments; his beards were unkempt and he smelt a little offensive even from a distance. Although not disabled in any manner, his present condition portrayed all sorts of physical and mental deformities that one could imagine.

The beggar took a step towards Funmi and faintly said: “Good morning Ma, please help me Ma, I am not feeling well and my body is hot Ma. I’ve not eaten anything since yesterday morning; please ma, nothing is too small, please, I need to buy medicine, please ma…”. He said these words as he staggered after Funmi.

The beggar’s words hit hard at Funmi’s heart; It stimulated her compassion. She thought aloud: “his English is not bad at all, I wonder why he is begging – let me just give him some naira notes”. Funmi slowed down her pace; she was about to halt and give alms to the beggar when she suddenly reasoned: “he is not physically deformed in any way, so why should I give this beggar my hard-earned money especially in this economic crunch.” She immediately increased her pace, ignored the beggar and walked to her office.

At 6:00PM, work was over for the day; Funmi left the office and walked towards CMS bus station to board a bus back home. As she walked-on, she noticed the same beggar; but this time, he sat and leaned against the pole of a street light on the roadside. When she was adjacent to the beggar, he stretched forth his hands towards Funmi with a gesture in plea for help and spoke inaudibly because he was just too weak. Funmi kept a straight face, ignored him and walked to the bus station.

The next day, by 7:15AM, Funmi was already on Broad street as the traffic was not as severe as that of the previous day. With her earphones affixed to her ears, she walked towards her office building, humming the melody of the song she was listening to. She was about crossing the road when she noticed an unusual gathering of people exactly where the beggar leaned the previous day.

She hurriedly moved towards the crowd to see the reason for the gathering. As she came closer, she heard words like “na wa oh”, “nobody knows tomorrow”, etc.

She made her way through the crowd until she got to the scene spot. Lo and behold, there laid the corpse of the beggar. Some of the people in the gathering said he must have died in the night; others observed that he must have been sick because his corpse looked pale. Very shortly afterwards, another beggar came by and said: “na hungry and sickness kill am; him never chop since yesterday morning and him get fever”. Different manner of sighs and commiserating hisses were heard from the crowd.

Funmi pulled back and continued her walk to the office. Her heart was heavy, tears rolled down her cheeks as she walked on. She wished she could turn back the hands of time and render alms to the dead beggar. The guilt of her insensitivity to the needy beggar plagued her mind the whole day. Her day was a sad and moody one as she kept recalling the whole scenario of the beggar’s plea for help. She also recalled the biblical contents of Gal 6:9-10, 1John 3:18 and 4:20 in deep and sober reflection.

As you go about your daily endeavour, do not place conditions or pre-requisites in good doing or rendering of alms especially to the poor and needy.

When faced with an opportunity to help, always ask the WWJD question: What Would Jesus Do?

Remember, God’s gift of Christ to us in John3:16 was a worthy and free gift.

Written by
Charles U. Ofoefule
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