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Ahmad Adedimeji Amobi: Respect, Malice & Other Stories

I just got back from Ilorin, the sun licking the back of my neck and an empty bottle of water in my head. I was walking because I wanted to drop the bottle into a refuse before I took the bus home. Ahead, there’s a small market around the roundabout and a garage for buses travelling to the neighbouring towns in Osogbo. When I reached the packed park, aiming to cross to the other side where I spotted a refuse, I saw people matching on a wrapped paper on the floor. No one saw it. Or they saw it, but did not bother to check out what it was. When I reached it, it was money. Five N1,000 notes and a N100 note.

I wondered why no one picked it up, especially during this period when inflation and the high cost of living grapple people on their necks. No matter how little the money was worth, no one would reject that amount. It was when I picked up the money that some people saw me. I could feel their eyes on me. Regrets drawn on their faces, screaming, “Why didn’t I see the money?” Everyone kept staring at me, wondering what next I’d do with the money. I was not interested in taking the money, but I also did not want to give it to any random person. What would I do, I asked myself. 

I saw a police officer manning his post up front and decided to approach him. I was going to take the money to the police station because I didn’t know where else to take it. It’s a public space where anyone can claim it. I wanted the real owner to have it. I approached the police officer and narrated what I found. He asked for the total amount and promised to do justice to the money. He called on one of the bike men around and gave him the money to keep. They thanked me and I walked away.

As I was departing them, I started wondering why a police officer, whom I trusted, would entrust the money to a bike man. I then realised that a police officer manning that kind of area would have gotten accustomed to everyone around. He’s one of them. So what would happen to the money? I started regretting giving him the money but I was stuck with what else would I have done since I was not interested in taking the money. 

What would you have done?


I entered the mosque and met an elderly man inside. I was across the mosque to enter the other side and the man called unto me, “Alfa, salam alykum,” bowing his head. I responded and went to perform ablution. His gesture nudged a realisation I encountered recently: Elderly people are so respectful.

I was at the park one day and I was the last passenger to enter. But the only remaining space, beside the door, was too small. I’d be squeezed into the door till we get to our destination. When I declined to sit, an old woman from the backseat said she would give up her seat for me so we could get going. She said, “A little discomfort for someone shouldn’t hinder us from moving forward.” I wrote that statement in my notes app.

I have observed recently that elderly people respect the old and the young. I have seen my mother almost kneeling to greet someone my age several times. I have been greeted in the same manner by some elderly people too. I wonder if the years and days of many experiences shape what they become. Maybe they realise that respecting others doesn’t take away anything from them. If they bow to greet anyone of any age range, it doesn’t reduce their age or the years they have experienced on earth. Have you noticed this too?


My neighbour requested my portable wifi some weeks ago. He promised to return it once he fixed his own on Monday. It was a Friday, but many Fridays and Mondays rolled over, yet he didn’t seem like he was going to return it. So I asked. He promised another day. When another day came, I asked again, he promised another day. It was taking too long a stretch and I getting embarrassed for requesting what belonged to me. Until I lied that someone close to me needed it.

Days after he returned it, I noticed he became hostile. I thought I was overthinking his reactions but if you’ve lived long enough with someone, you would notice what has changed about them. He barely responds to my greetings now. 

He would not be the first person to switch attitude after I requested what belonged to me. Some years ago, a friend stopped talking to me because I requested the money I lent them. Another stopped talking to me because I demanded to be respected. I am always asking myself, why are they pissed at me for requesting what belongs to me? Do they not wish to return it? Am I wrong to ask? Has this ever happened to you? What would you have done?

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