Although I bought food stuff from just about any of the sellers in the local market where I shopped, over the last couple of months, I had established specific relationships with some particular vendors. That meant that rather than walk around seeking the best deals, I had built trust with these select few and would pretty much buy from just them.
One day, I shopped for groceries as usual. This time around, I did so in a hurry because I was already behind schedule with my chores.
I got home and realised that I had forgotten the bag of tomatoes and peppers that I had bought. Thankfully, I still had some that I had pureed in the freezer so I managed those. Due to the demands of my footwear business, I was unable to return to the market where I had bought the tomatoes until about a week after.
As I approached my customer, he ran towards me with a huge smile; quickly informing me of the tomatoes and peppers that I had forgotten. He apologized as he went on to repack some for me. He literally filled the bag with about three times the quantity of pepper he had sold to me earlier in the week. I was really happy for his kind gesture; especially because I understood that he was not duty-bound to do so. With a very wide grin on my face, I thanked him.
Just before I left his stand, another customer from whom I bought onions walked towards us and spoke to my customer in their local dialect. They both smiled at me and later I gathered that they were siblings. Coincidentally, I once assisted the onion seller to carry his goods with my car to the market. That day, I saw a man struggling to contain his onions as the sack had torn and the contents were all over the place. I offered to help him transport his goods to the market and we said our goodbyes. I would buy onions from only him after that day. Little did I know that the onion seller I had helped was a brother to the one who sold pepper.
A bond was formed that day and that relationship lasted several months.
One day, I visited the market and his stall was empty. That was odd. I had a funny feeling in my tummy but discarded it. A week passed and I went there again; the stall was as empty as the last time I visited. It felt desolate. I braced up myself and asked the neighbouring stall owner and then she gave the bad news. My customer was involved in an accident a day before schools were forced to close in light of the COVID-19 pandemic that was wreaking havoc on the world. That accident claimed his life. His younger brother who sold onions had returned to Kaduna after the incident. My heart sunk with sorrow and I haven’t stopped thinking about him since then.
Someone said the purpose of life is not happiness but usefulness. I agree.
Since happiness is essentially dependent on happenings, we may be chasing the wind in our quest to be happy. Being valuable on the other hand affords us the opportunity to be relevant in small, not-so-small, big and very big ways.
We must be intentional about the vibe we exude around people. After you’re gone, what will people say about you? We are who we choose to be.
Are you enjoyable to be around? Do you ooze optimism or negativity? Are you a cancer or do you enable positive actions in others? Do people seek you for counsel or would they rather leave the room when you come in? Some of us are worse than the Coronavirus in how we multiply pessimism and leave destructive trails behind.
In the wake of the lock-down, anxieties and uncertainties, we have opportunities to mend strained relationships and become better people.