How Helping Another Brought Me Closer to the Mahanta
– Peri Okonny
The phone rang one day as I was on my way to work in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Normally I do not answer the phone while driving, especially if the call is from an unknown number. But on this occasion I felt compelled to pick it up.
The voice at the other end said, “Is this the correct number?
A white man gave me this number in a dream last night and said I should call it this morning. Is this the correct number?” “Yes,” I said, sensing the white man he mentioned must be the Mahanta. Then he began telling me his story, but I had to stop him. “I am driving,” I said. “I’ll call you back in two hours.”
Upon my reaching destination, I returned his call. What happened, I asked, and why was my mobile phone number given to him? “Life has been very hard for me, “After graduating from trade school, I could not get a job.
I was advised to train as a construction-equipment operator, so I did that but still couldn’t find a job. Following further advice, I qualified as an overheadcrane operator. Still I remained unemployed, no matter how hard I tried. I was getting very tired of acquiring new skills that could not secure me a job.
“I am an orphan, alone in this world. The house my parents left behind is almost collapsed because I couldn’t maintain it. I thought to myself, There’s no point in continuing to suffer and making no headway in life. Last night, I made up my mind to take my own life by hanging myself.
I planned to get what I needed today and go into the forest tonight to execute my plan. “As I slept last night, I had a dream where I saw myself in the forest where I had planned to go. I had set up everything and was about to put the rope over my head, when I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder.
When I looked, I saw a white man standing behind me. I asked him what he was doing there-a white man in a lonely African forest at night. “Don’t do it. What is your problem?” the white man said to me. “I told him life was not worth living if I couldn’t get a job. At that point the white man gave me a telephone number and told me to call first thing in the morning.
I told him, “I do not want a lot of talk. All I want is a job so I can live normal life. I do not want to talk to anyone who cannot give me a job.” “The white man said, “Call the number, and your problems will be solved.”
“So that is why I called your number. Is it the right number? Can you give me a job?” “OK,” I told him. “Come to my office, and let’s talk.” “I have no money to travel into town. It is almost a two-hour bus ride,” he said.
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