One of my grandmother’s tenants is a young man named George. At 26 years of age he’s a tall, humble, very slim guy, and possibly one of the most gentle men I’ve ever met. Although he has a keen interest in martial arts movies, this guy would not harm a fly.
George loves God. I forget now what church he goes to, but you could tell that his religion is a very important part of his life, and it directed everything he did. I have a cousin who lives with my grandmother whose job it is to help around the house but he was never to be found when there was work to be done. However, George was: from fetching water, to washing dishes, to running errands, if George saw my grandmother in need of assistance, he was there for her. With my mother, sister, and I, it was the same thing: a true gentleman, George would gently take the water fetcher from our hands and help us fill our buckets with water and carry them to where they needed to be. I think it’s fair to say the three of us fell a little in love with George because he was the perfect son, brother, cousin, and friend. He had this gentleness that attracts people to him, and an innocent charm that made you feel protective toward him.
If you were ever looking for George, you could find him surrounded by the children of the other tenants. It was he that they would go to after school, and he’d patiently help them with their homework, explaining things to them as if he had all the time in the world. He was firm but kind in his instruction. George seriously helped everyone that crossed his path.
During our stay, it soon became clear that George knew a little bit about everything. There were few topics that would come up on those evenings that we’d sit on my grandmother’s verandah that he couldn’t educate us on. He loved that I could speak Yoruba (somewhat) and happily helped me improve my vocabulary. He asked me constantly to help my sister master Yoruba to the same level that I had.
One interest that he and I have in common is an interest in computers. I don’t think I told him that I blog, but he was taking a course to learn the basics of computer operation, and when he’d come back at the end of the day he’d show me what he learned and we’d discuss it. He told me he’d soon get an email address so we could keep in touch that way.
About a week before we left, he asked me when we’d be leaving because he would be going home to visit his own parents in a neighbouring city in a few weeks’ time and he didn’t think we’d still be around by the time he returned. When I told him that we’d be gone before he left to visit his parents, he was sad, and he told me that he would miss us so much. He had two ways of calling me, either “Sister GNG” or “Sis GNG” so cheerfully that even if I was irritated by the constant heat, or tired, I’d instantly find a smile for him. Once he knew that we’d be leaving Nigeria soon, he tried to spend as much time as possible with us, and brought me close to tears every time he told me how much he would miss us.
Anything you gave George, big or small, he responded with genuine appreciation. I loved the way he would say “I am very grateful”, so solemnly, that you knew he really appreciated what you gave him. That humbleness of course just made you want to do more, and give more to him.
The morning we left my grandmother’s house for Lagos, he was among the people there to say goodbye. Although we cried for the family members that we would miss, I also cried because I knew I’d miss George, who had a tear or two in his eyes. George, who did not have a lot, yet shared what he had so freely. My mom loves Nigerian gospel music and George loaned her a few of his tapes to listen to. Unfortunately there wasn’t a tape player handy, so he let her borrow his, which he brought from his own room to my grandmother’s sitting area. When we saw his poor tape player, dented, broken, and decrepit, it seemed doubtful that it would actually work, but it did. My heart sort of broke because if we had known sooner that his player was in such rough shape, we would have tried to get him a replacement. It would have been a gift he’d use well since you could often hear him blaring gospel music in the morning as he cleaned his room or did some chores to help out our grandmother or other tenants.
George’s disposable income is next to nil. He lives very modestly, works very hard, and lives within his means. So imagine my shock when I received a package from him yesterday! He spent 500 naira to mail us two audio gospel cds (he must have paid for an expedited service because it arrived here in 2 days!). He also sent us a letter that yup, brought me to tears. It was just so…him to give though he has so little. I said a prayer for him through my tears and feel so blessed to have met him. Like he said in his letter, Ipade wa bi oyin (literally, “May our next meeting be like honey”). I hope it is.
I gave him a call to thank him, but unfortunately he was en route somewhere, so he couldn’t really hear me. I didn’t even get to thank him for his gift but I will as soon as I can reach him again. Like my sister said, he’s the kind of person that after spending time with, you want to be a better person yourself. I thank God for George.