Will of Steel
In this jet age, some harsh realities snuff out life out of great dreams, but only those with the Will of Steel have been able to surmount the cruelty of life and forge a great future for themselves. Such is the story of a friend I want to share with you.
Going through my Facebook account very early in the morning few days back- as my usual routine- a friend suggestion popped up (only God knows how these things know people you have met before) at first, the name Taiwo Twins did not ring any bell in my senses till her profile picture loaded completely, then I saw the face, Taiwo! My cleaner friend! I quickly added her while asking myself what might have happened to this hardworking friend.
As events will turn yesterday, I was in School (Unilag *University of Lagos Nigeria) after battling to submit a deferred assignment, I was to go home, and lo and behold, right in front of my department I saw my cleaner friend in flesh rather than on screen. I couldn’t believe it, I went to her cautiously and called her name, “Taiwo!”. She look at me and said ‘sorry, but I can’t place the face’. Then I introduced myself, especially the fact that I gave her free ride from her work place perpetually for over 3months some 4years ago, where she worked as an office cleaner. The next thing was that she screamed my name, gave me a big hug and she did apologize for not recognising me at first. I smiled in agreement, saying, ‘most people think I look a bit different now, probably because I have added some weight’.
After the pleasantries were exchanged, out of curiosity I asked her what she was doing in Unilag plus how it came to pass that she was looking nicer now compared to the last time I saw her. Then she offered that we find a seat because- as she judged- it was a long story; we got ourselves seats, and she started her story…
“I was in my first year in the polytechnic when I lost both parents in a ghastly car accident. My twin sister and I were so devastated. Fortunately, the family members rallied round for the burial ceremonies and many promises were made to us. In the way we were brought up, our parents raised us independent of our extended families, that is, we don’t visit uncles or aunts. So when we lost our parents, we tried moving closer to our extended families but none of them- in spite of their promises- was willing to accept us, we had no where to turn to, and the world seemed crashing upon us.
Kehinde and I decided to secure a small room for ourselves from the money we got during the burial ceremonies. Dropping out of school was the obvious thing to do, but we told ourselves that if not for anything, we had to prove to people who didn’t help us that they were wrong, for they thought we can’t amount to something. We decided to get a part-time job to finance our OND program. Kehinde started selling recharge cards plus rendering services of phone calling to patronizers, and I also got a job as an office cleaner. With these, we were able to manage through the OND program.
After the Diploma program, it seems we were hard up, cost of furthering studies wasn’t something our petty jobs could finance and help seemed to be faraway. Though many guys came along the way, the single guys that came often do not have the capacity to help, those that could don’t want to have anything to do with a cleaner girl. Then, lots of married men came too but all they wanted was someone to fulfill their sexual fantasies in exchange for cash, though it felt like I had nothing to loose, I couldn’t forget what my mum told me, saying ‘if you date another woman’s husband, someone would date yours too when you finally get married’, coupled with the fact that I had enough troubles in my life already, to invite more and become the central prayer point of one housewife would be self-defeating.
In all these, Kehinde decided to call it a quit with education, and she went into fashion designing but I was resolved to have at least first degree. One day in the office, I was cleaning the director’s office (she is Swedish, so you hardly hear what she is saying and also very mean especially to junior staff) when she was complaining that she needed to send a mail, however, the secretary was not around, then I offered to assist. She looked at me with disgust, saying ‘a cleaner? And you think you can do a graduate’s job?’ I smiled back at her to dissolve the look on her face and then told her thus ‘if it is important ma, I can try’. ‘Okay’ consented she, pointing me to the computer, then she started dictating her message. When she was through, we edited it together and I sent the mail for her. She was so pleased that she gave me #2,000, probably as gratitude recompense. I jumped at it, and then knelt down in reciprocal appreciation. She asked what my qualification was and I told her.
Two days later, the director called me and apprised me that WEMAbank was employing cashiers, the requirement was OND and that I don’t even need to write any test because she has recommended me, however, I would be interviewed. I couldn’t believe my ears, I was in tears; then she counted #10,000 for me, saying ‘go get yourself a sleek suit jacket and make sure you look good for the interview’, perhaps the exercise of her gratitude wasn’t over. As God would have it, I got the job, and from a pay of #12,000 per month, I was elevated to a pay of about #70,000 per month. Till today, it still feels like a dream.
So now, I am doing a part time program in Unilag, and I’m actually in my third year, studying Business Administration. I have been able to set up a small fashion house for Kehinde and she is really growing fast;
we have a 3 bedroom apartment to ourselves and more than ever, we have been able to prove people who felt we are up to no good wrong and those who believed in us right.
After she finished her story, I was dumbfounded, this young girl has gone through this much. I hugged her, so happy for her, we exchanged numbers and I saw her off to the park. On my way back to the department I started reminiscing on what she shared and here are the lessons I got:
1. You need a strong Will to stay focus
2. You need a much stronger Will for you not to be intimidated by life’s challenges.
3. People quickly change; from friends to enemies and from enemies to friends, bottom line don’t harbour hatred.
4. When you are down people will try to exploit you in the name of help but then if you refuse to be exploited a real helper will show up.
5. Intimidation will come, molestation will come but then moment of magic will eventually come, so be patient.
6. Opportunities only transform life when you are prepared.
7. If we are diligent, if we are prayerful, if we are resilient and if we are hard working, we will all tell the sweet story of victory.
I like sweet stories of victory, I like people walking from the face of defeat to the corridor of triumph, I like winners and I strongly believe winning is possible for all. If we never relent, we can be whatever we have chosen to be. I love you all and trust me, I believe in you.
Edited by Gbenga Kajopaiye