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“Don’t Look Down on Anyone” — UNN graduate narrates how his classmate who called him poor got shocked months later

A University of Nigeria NSUKKA, UNN graduate, popularly known as Maazi Ogbonna, has shared his story how his classmate called him “poor boy” and later received the shock of his life.

Read his story below:

It was in Mbanefo Hostel that year in UNN. I put on this guy’s slippers to buy bread at the hostel canteen,owned by a certain old man we called Paapa. Paapa was known for his mischievous gbas gbos whenever students want to buy something. I always watched the direction of his mouth, the way he moved it simultaneously from one corner to the other.

I bought bread and returned to my room. This guy I shared same room with, whom I wore his slippers yelled at me:

“Never you insert your filthy legs into my slippers again. Am I the one who asked you to be poor?”

I didn’t see that as an insult as I was used to the bully not from him alone, but others who felt they were better than me because their parents sent them money while I didn’t boast ever collecting money from anyone. I apologised for making the mistake of wearing his slippers.

Those days, his father managed to send him 5k monthly, sometimes, once in 2 months. Then they saw themselves as the richest people on earth. They always called their parents for money. But Maazị was not calling anybody. Not that I didn’t have people to call and I wouldn’t see money but the stubborn Maazị decided to train himself. It was like a bet. You don’t want to study what we asked you to study, let’s see how you will do it. I took up the challenge and said to myself:

“Boy, if it’s biscuit, eat it. You don’t need anybody. You can do it”.

Secondly, I didn’t want anyone to take credit and glory, if eventually I find my feet. I didn’t want to be at the mercy of anyone and be toss around. I didn’t want anyone to say: “if not because of me, Maazị wouldn’t have been anything in life. I made him. I trained him in school”. I am that stubborn and my self confidence can be annoying. Broke boy with pride. Very arrogant boy. What else?

“Did your family disown you or are you that poor?”, the same boy would mock.

I was a very quiet boy who did his thing on low key. I started talking about myself recently after I have engraved my name in the world of Igbo literature.

Let me not digress….

Just that week, I traveled and returned with something. I was a very careless person. I could drop something anywhere and forget about it. That was the major worry of my mum when I went to school. Oh, she went for an ọmụgwọ; the next she could hear was that her son was already in Nsụka. Who is training him? Nobody. Nwatakịrị 18 years. He left home. Stubborn boy.

I returned with a cheque of ₦160,000 to the hostel. I had been returning with cheques but nobody in the hostel knew. I mistakenly dropped the cheque on the table and went to take my bath. The boy first entered the room and saw it.

It’s a lie. He had to wash his face to see clearly whose name was written on the cheque. Ọ fụnụgokwanụ that amount in his life when UNN school fees was around 30-31k and his father paid directly. He was telling others in the room that this boy they had been talking down on had a cheque worth 160k.

I returned from the bathroom when I saw them greeting me. This was bizarre. Something was wrong somewhere. The boy handed the cheque to me with two hands:

“Oh this.Thank you”, I said.

I collected the cheque and out I went to Fidelity Bank located adjacent Isa Kaita Hostel. I cashed it out, ran to Diamond bank and sent the money to a publisher to publish my other manuscript

These boys were addressing me as a poor boy even when I could train them in school because hustle don dey pay that time. With 160k I could pay his 4 years school fees and still have change. But mmadụ anọghị na competition. The boy hated me because he thought he was better than me. I can’t even say what I experienced from him. He always called me a poor boy.

I didn’t listen to any distraction. I struggled until I began to write for about 3 publishing companies. I met them myself and sold myself. I bragged before them about what I could do. They saw it. I could deliver. But you wouldn’t hear anything about me then. I was silently investing for the future.

I used the money I made to publish more books because I planned to retire at the age of 25. That conviction made me to double my hustle. Nigerians were still reading books then. So I invested heavily on books and publishing. I was making money then too unlike now nobody read books.

Fast forward to when I left the hostel. I remember buying a lady’s motorcycle which I used to cruise Nsụka and run my research everywhere. Just in a space of 2 months the boy said he wasn’t responsible for my poverty.

We had finished a lecture at Annex building. Someone was sitting on my bike and I needed to get to my department to meet Professor Nwadike over a book I was to co-write with him.

“Excuse me please”, I said to the guy sitting on my bike. It turned out to be the same guy who asked me if he was the one who asked me to be poor.

He turned and saw me, then shocked. From my dressing, ikuku ndụ ekuwela.

“Maazị! Is this you? Whose bike? You have bike?”

Then Yahoo boys never start to buy cars and there was nothing like Yahoo amongst university students. At least onye nwere bike ka sokwa n’ihe a na-arụ.

Keep asking question. Gbatuo ọsịsọ ka m buru ụgbọ m narie. Papa gị na-enye gị 5k ị bịa ịkọ m ọnụ. I said to myself.

He was standing, looking at me in confusion with his friends. I saddled on the motorcycle, put the key inside, turned it right-ways. Ọ kpọghego. M zọọ the machine, held the handle nyesie ya ọkụ ike:

Vuuuuuuuuuum! The sound now reduced to tịm tịm tịm because my mechanic rụsịrị ya ọrụ ike.

As the machine was vibrating in his presence, m kpọnye ụkwụ m na gear, o mee kpụm…. Maazị narie ooo….

As I left, he paused, I paused; both of us paused.

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