By Sharon Olanrewaju
You know, often times when I hear or read people give testimonies like:
“I was depressed and tired of life, I wanted to commit suicide. No one cared about me, I was an insignificant part of everyone’s life. Even my family never cared for me. The day I decided I was going to put an end to it all, an end to my life, I was walking down the road and saw this lady who smiled at me. I was so surprised I wasn’t even sure if I was supposed to smile back. I felt so special, at least one person noticed me and gave me a smile; that smile changed my life and because of that I decided against commiting suicide”
And when I read such or hear of it, I’m usually like ‘duuuuh‘…’Mtcheew‘ …ase (rubbish) ...Iwo jebi (I don’t know the English interpretation for that☺).
I would say, “If no one smiled, you would have killed yourself right?…Taaah!”
Well, one day, something happened and it made me start to have a rethink.
I wasn’t in a good mood as I left the house, I was glad I didn’t meet anyone on the road because I wouldn’t have given nor would I have responded to any form of greeting. On getting to the road, I flagged down a cab and told him my destination. I had opened the door when I heard him say “hundred naira”. I paused and snapped “fifty naira”.
He hissed, mumbled something about the fuel hike and then shouted that I should close the door.
Aha! He came at the wrong time. I replied, “What’s my business? It’s fifty naira or nothing”. I said it in Yoruba, It’s weightier that way. The tone of irritation was just perfect and the intended insult was passed across. (God bless the Yoruba language).
I could almost see hatred in his eyes.
I hissed, he hissed. He cursed, I hissed. He zoomed off, I moved on. C’est finis! or so I thought, but when I settled in another cab, I started to think:
“Perhaps a hundred naira would not have been too high a price…”
“…perhaps I shouldn’t have been so harsh on the man”
“…maybe I was the one who did wrong…”
“No! He was grumpy!” I said to myself in defence.
Then my ever over-active imagination came to play. I started to play an aftermath of my actions in my head and this is how it went:
That cab driver got home that evening. He still had not forgotten his encounter with that ‘saucy useless girl’ who insulted him. He felt really bad. A girl he could father insulted him all because he is a cab driver… He is still feeling bad, there is a lot on his mind – there just isn’t enough money, his daughter is sick, he has no money to pay his son’s school fees. His wife meets him at the door, she doesn’t even greet him. The poor woman is tired. She complains and nags about him not being responsible enough- he didn’t leave enough money for food. He yells back at her or should I make him beat her? *pensivemood*…Nah…let me leave it at ‘the shout’. He walks out on her. She is so frustrated, tears roll down her eyes. I’m trying to be as realistic as possible, that’s why she won’t commit suicide… What if she commits suicide…
But she cried because of me. A woman, a mother somewhere, somehow cried because I made her husband feel bad. Maybe he still would have been grumpy without my actions but, he wouldn’t have had to feel bad because someone chose to be grumpy, because someone who is me chose to flow with the tide.
I have come to realize that people are grumpy, rude, impolite, saucy, proud, but I don’t have to be what people are. I don’t have to be the reason the grumpiness circulates throughout the entire nation.
My actions matter. I am important to every stranger. The world needs me, people need me. I am the reason someone on the road would smile on a very stressful day, the reason that woman whose husband has been making life terrible for would not give up, the reason that cab driver would just for one moment forget the fuel hike and poverty, all because he had a happy girl in his ride; a girl who chose not to flow with the tide. So when a trader is rude and shouts at me just because I ask for a reduction in the price of the goods I want to buy (at least it’s not my fault the economy is bad), when a friend is grumpy or a passerby steps on my foot and doesn’t deem it fit to apologize to me (all those proud cocks…humph!), I now always remind myself that I do not know what has taken place behind the scenes and what would yet take place after my encounter with that person. I do not know what has made the person grumpy so it’s my responsibility to fix it, with a smile or a little, tiny bit of patience.
I like when I’m able to achieve that. It makes me feel matured or something, like I’m on top of others.That’s not my aim though, I just want to make the world a better place for someone as I hope when I’m also in my down moments, all grumpy and angry, someone would choose to make the world a better place for me too and put a smile on my face.
Always remember that without you giving the very best of yourself to the world, someone’s day, or life, just might be ruined.
Maybe all those testimonies about smiles changing the lives of people and making them not commit suicide are not so unrealistic after all.