“Worldly riches are like nuts; many a tooth is broke in cracking them, but never is the stomach filled with eating them.” The wise men once said. That is not far from the truth.
I came to realize, but rather in a bitter way. I finished my high school education and passed with flying colours. I thought I would get some sponsorship to enable me go to the university but no one surfaced.
I did my best to look around and wrote numerous letters to potential would be sponsors but all in vain.
My parents were living below poverty level and barely living from hand to mouth. I was lucky I got someone to pay for my high school but he passed away in my final year. My hope of ever going to university diminished when I spent two years at home after high school.
What I am calling home here was a room we had rented with friends who were casual labourers like me. A round shaped house made of cow dung with a grass thatched roof.
“When the music changes, so does the dance.” I gave up hope and started training my mind to be contented with life as it came. We would even go without food sometimes.
“Is there God out there really?” I used to ask myself. “And if there is, why is the world full of injustices?” My parents were religious. We used to pray every morning and evening.
They had hope all along that things would change some day. They called it faith. Whatever that is! Nothing changed though. At heart, I became an atheist.
Tears are best dried with your own hand.
I had to live and let live. It’s the world. Everybody for themselves. I’ll however never forget one day while still toiling as a casual labourer that the news reached me. It was the best news I had ever heard in my life.
“You are a millionaire! You are a millionaire!” A group of co-labourers came running and shouting towards me.
They whisked me and carried me on their shoulders shouting on top of their voices. They took me shoulder high around the village beckoning on others to join in. Work came to a standstill.
Everyone wanted to get a glimpse of the new millionaire in the village.
It took me a while before the truth dawned on me.
I had filled a lottery form two months earlier and had forgotten about it.
My workmates had heard the good news through their small mobile fm radios! I indeed got the fat cheque after a week. I never saw a horde of journalists in my whole life like I did on that day.
Throwing different questions at me at the same time and needing me to answer them all at the same time. I also had no idea that cameras could be that scary. They made me sweat and stammer!
“When making a fire people like to join you, when cleaning the ashes you are often alone,” said a wise African man. I never saw friends as I did. Everybody wanted to greet me with a handshake and of course get something small from me. I had never even dreamed of being rich let alone becoming a millionaire.
I had this feeling that I was on top of the world and could do all that I wanted since I had money.
I was used to coins but now I was handling bundles of cash!
“The problem with the rich young ruler was not that he had riches but rather that the riches had him,” a certain tale once mentioned. In this case, for sure, riches had me.
Friends and relatives were always hovering around my homestead like vultures do on carcasses.
Yeah! This time round I had a homestead though not mine as such! I stayed in one of the best apartments in town. I liked it and felt loved and adored. What a feeling! For the first time in life, I felt love and loved.
I loved many and many were willing to be loved by me. Everyday was a holiday. We made merry anytime all the times and everywhere!
I visited places of my wish locally and across the boundaries accompanied by the best lass I could get.
Did they not say ‘no romance without finance’? Ooh boy! Life can be sweet! From Ann, to Ruth to Sarah and the list went on and on and on. The kind of “Mac Muga.”
“There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart’s desire. The other is to gain it.” My father told me seated on his three legged traditional stool.
He, after quite a long struggle, had managed to track me down through my friends to his house. I had forgotten him and my mother as I lived lavishly in town.
“Son, listen and listen carefully. Who told you the money you have will remain forever? Why don’t you at least use some for your education? Or get yourself a house instead of renting?” Some truth started to sink in me.
“Nothing is so hard for those who abound in riches to conceive how others can be in want.” Those were the parting words from my father.
I felt condemned after that conversation with my dad. I went home in low spirits. “I think I’ve gone astray,” I thought to myself.
“Maybe with all the withdrawals I have made for the last four months since I got the cash, I have little or nothing left in my account.” I started to worry. I had not been checking balances all along.
I approached my bank early the following day on cold feet.
I didn’t know what to expect from that ATM machine. Sure enough, I had less than a hundred thousand. That was three times my house rent.
I had three months to live in that apartment minus the entire hullabaloo that went with it! After that?......I go back to my old friends and live with them in that round shaped house made of cow dung with a grass thatched roof again. “If only I can get a second chance.” I mattered as I traced my way back home.