I receive more than 1,000 letters and mails every month, at office.
All of these letters and mails pass through my own hands.
I stay up all nights reading and responding.
After my promotion.
I had to move into a new office and take over some special duties, coupled with the ones I have already.
I saw written letters that were dumped somewhere inside the new office which no one has opened nor touched.
I wondered how the letters got there.
The envelopes used for the letters were very dusty. About nineteen letters from the same person.
It has same name.
Same phone number.
And same handwriting.
When our cleaners wanted to dispose them, I told him to bring them for me.
I opened and read one.
It was a letter written to the accounts and finance department of our company by a labourer in November 2019.
The letter was a request.
The worker was humbly requesting the head of accounts department to pay him, that he is critically sick and needs the money for urgent treatment. In the letter, he stated that he had hepatitis which affected his liver.
I read the second letter. It was the same request. Looking at the letters, one will know that it was written with tears. The drops of tears were still visible on it, since the letters were inserted in an envelope.
I read the third letter and saw the same thing.
I read the fourth letter and it was still the same request.
He has been writing and sending in letters since November 2019 and the last letter there was written on 10 August 2020, which the writer stated that the accounts department should have mercy on him and his family and unblock his line and answer his calls.
It was confusing.
Who blocks people’s lines here?
I decided to call.
I used my phone and dialed the number on one of the letters I was holding, which was the last letter written on 10 August 2020.
No one picked.
I dialed it again.
It ranged again.
I spoke first.
“Hello,” I said, “Good afternoon.”
“Good afternoon.” a female voice answered. It was the voice of a middle aged woman.
I told her my name and where I was calling from.
She kept quiet.
I told her that I am calling to speak with the person who bears the name on the letters.
She started sobbing over the phone.
“He is lying down here.” She cried.
“Who?” I asked to reaffirm.
“The person you want to speak with.”
“Can I speak with him, please?”
“He can’t talk again. He is only breathing. He can’t move. He doesn’t even know that someone is sitting beside him. I am his wife. We have been writing letters and calling but you people said we should not disturb you people again. Our lines was blocked. His money was withheld. We sent people to you people’s office but they came back with nothing.” She cried, “We are just waiting for him to go and rest.”
I couldn’t say a word.
I was just dropping tears because of the way she spoke.
“He is dieing day by day. The person receiving our calls and letters threatened us not to write or call again. My husband have been a worker in you people’s company for more than seven years. He laboured there. He worked as if the work was his life. He didn’t miss any day even when he was sick. But see how he has been abandoned. What has he done to deserve this treat? God sees everything. We have been going around to ask for money but no one wants to help. We have to leave town and return to the village. No money to treat him. No money to eat. No money to pay rent. I spent my business money and nothing…” She sobbed.
I guess there was an error somewhere.
Maybe something I am not aware of was or is happening. The company I work for are not known for this.
I asked her their village and home address.
She told me.
I went there.
A village between Kano and Kaduna. I lost my way a number of times before getting to their house.
I saw the man.
He was lying down on a mat in front of their house. The wife was sitting next to him on the mat. She was chasing flies around him. She just finished cleaning him up in front of that place.
He was looking dried and tired.
He can’t talk.
He can’t hear.
His eyes were just open, as it gradually rotates.
A middle aged man.
At his early fifties.
The sickness have taken the greater part of him and has left him dropping tears bit by bit which his wife was constantly cleaning.
I guess he noticed that an external body was there. I don’t know him nor when he was working with us.
I don’t also think it was only the sickness the wife told me that brought him down to that state. What I saw was more than liver disease.
I and the wife spoke, as she cried, saying;
“Even if he dies today, I am already comforted. He needs to go and rest. He has suffered a lot. Maybe, I will join him later. I have nothing else. I just came to this world to bury people I love.”
I left there with tears.
When I got home, I sent foodstuffs and beverages from my house to them because I had no money with me.
I spoke to my own boss about the man.
I also met the head of accounts department who has been approving the man’s salary every month but the accountant in charge was not sending it down to him, since he noticed the man was not coming to ask for it. He was taking it. He was also close to the man, so the letters and calls were going directly to him. The man was using him as a middle man to reach the head of accounts. My pain arose more when I found out they were both from the same community.
He has been signing and collecting the man’s money for about two years now.
He was arrested and charged.
He payed off the money in a day from his life savings.
He was then suspended.
But I have made an enemy for myself.
An enemy that doesn’t know that he is an enemy to himself.
Two of our Directors visited the man and his wife. He was admitted into the hospital last weekend.
I received a call.
It was the man’s wife.
Her voice choked on the phone.
She was sobbing.
She then spoke.
“Thank you so much. Thank you so much for fighting for my husband. Thank you so much for your efforts. At least I heard his voice again. He smiled at me. He has gone to be with the Lord. God bless you, Sir.”
I wrote my previous post after the news came.
July 21, 2021.
Emmanuel Noble Okereke
My take: this speaks volumes about who we are as a Nation, the problem is not Buhari or Jonathan but us as a people. The change we want to see must begin from within.