This piece invokes such nostalgic memories. It is dedicated to someone who was used of God to make my life comfortable.
It happened many years ago. I moved into a certain area in Lagos. There was no water in the neighbourhood. I was unhappy about the situation because I had been used to opening a tap and seeing water flow. Having to go around fetching water was not funny.
There were two major places where the people in that neighbourhood fetched water. One of them was on the major road while the other was inside a house. I preferred using the one inside the house for obvious reasons.
That was where I met her.
She was called Iya Alashe. I don’t know if I got the spelling right.
She was an old woman. Slim, tall with kind eyes. Eyes that lit up whenever she saw me. For some reason, that woman loved me. To the extent that whenever I came around, the people in the compound will chorus,
‘IYA ALASHE, OREYI TIDE OH!’ This means (in the Yoruba language) Iya Alashe, your friend has come.
And she was my friend indeed.
She always looked out for me. In that compound, there was an unwritten rule that people who came to fetch water had to remove their pairs of slippers and walk barefooted to where the tap was. I just could not imagine doing that because the place looked ‘very nice’ if you know what I mean. I did not go barefooted in my house so how can I do so outside?
Iya Alashe came to my rescue and allowed me wear my slippers. She silenced anyone who tried to harass me. Anytime there was no light, water was not sold but if I came around, Iya Alashe would make sure I fetched water. Then she would gently explain that I shouldn’t come back since they had to manage what was left for the use of the household.
She was a gem!
She had gone into arguments with people in the compound because of me. I remember a particular day when I came into the compound and one of the ladies there told me point blank to remove my slippers or I will not fetch water. She added that Iya Alashe was not there to save me because she was sick and asleep. I don’t know how it happened. Whether God woke her up himself but Iya Alashe suddenly appeared at the foot of the stairs. The lady who was harassing me was so shocked to see her.
Of course Iya Alashe made sure I fetched all the water I wanted to fetch before she went back inside.
Another time, someone in the compound said I did not put money in the container where the money paid for water sales was kept and Iya Alashe attacked her, asking if she had checked the container. When the lady checked, she discovered that I had put money there. Then Iya Alashe said she knew I will not do something like that.
At that point, everyone in the compound choroused, ‘Iya Alashe, you and this your friend!’
Iya Alashe was a wonderful woman. An angel in disguise.
As I write about her, I wonder if she still walks this earth. It has been years since I moved out of that house. I don’t even know if I will remember where it is. But I have not forgotten that kind-hearted woman who helped me through a not-too-pleasant period of my life.
There are many people like Iya Alashe all over the world. People that God places in strategic positions to assist us when we are in need. Someone called them Helpers of Destiny. They help to fulfil your dreams. They take you to your next phase of life.
I remember at this time a certain Alhaji I met years ago. My car stopped on my way back from church and he stopped to offer assistance. He checked the car and discovered that it was a battery problem. He offered to give me a battery from one of his cars which I could return later. A male friend who was with me that day offered to go with him and take the battery. He actually gave the battery to my friend, we fixed it in the car and he let me go with the battery, saying I could return it at any time.
He did not collect my phone number, my office address or residential address. He gave the battery to me and let me go.
A total stranger!
God places such people along the pathways of our lives. It is important that we appreciate them and not take them for granted. Of course I returned that battery and was in touch with the Alhaji for a while.
Today I celebrate IYA ALASHE. I don’t know if I will ever see her again but I have never forgotten her kind deed. And I pray for her that her descendants will reap the rewards of her kindness.
And to the IYA ALSAHES of this world. May you continue to spread love and may you never lack your own helpers.