In life, you come across a lot of people, some who leave a significant mark in your heart and others whom you forget along with time. I generally like to sit quietly and observe people around me, try to imagine what kind of lives they lead, what they must be thinking or how they justify their actions. I have been doing this since I was a young child, and I have learnt a lot just from observing and listening to people.
Last week, I was at the office when a young man passed by the office. His demeanour was suspicious, he kept on looking around the office, taking a few steps backwards and forwards as if he was weighing the odds of entering the office. I was a little hesitant to attend to him but I did not want to appear rude and so I politely asked how I could help him.
“I really don’t know how to explain it to you. I am a bit confused” he responded. This was a surprise for me. His reluctance to explain what’s going on with him and the confusion made me feel a little awkward. He wore a pink long-sleeved shirt with creases around the shoulders, blue pants and a black backpack on his shoulder. He might have been 23 or 24 years old. He avoided eye contact which many would regard as a sign of lying but something about him forced me to try talking to him, to see if he genuinely needed assistance.
“Well, you will have to explain what exactly you need otherwise I will not be able to assist you.”
“My name is Michael and I am from Uganda,” he began explaining. “I am looking for my father whom I last saw when I was four years old. My belongings – my phone, clothes, money and passport were stolen. I need a lawyer’s assistance to help me in locating the whereabouts of my father. I could not decide whether he was saying the truth or lying at that point so I informed him that we are a corporate consulting firm and generally do not deal with immigration or criminal issues. However, to ensure he does not lose heart I asked him to leave his contact details so I can share his situation with the directors and lawyers, and inform him if they decide to represent him in his case.
“I do not have a phone. I told you all my belongings were stolen.” I sensed his frustration but I told him I will speak to the Manager but I cannot guarantee that they will be able to help him out since they already have lots of cases to handle. I directed him to a nearby law firm which generally deals with such cases.
He thanked me and just opened the door when a thought struck me and I called him back. I inquired if he had visited the Ugandan embassy and asked for their help. “I spoke to them but they said they can’t help me since my issue is personal. If it was a state or governmental issue they would have helped me out.
My curiosity took hold of me and I asked him why he was looking for his father in Tanzania when he was born in Uganda. He calmly explained that his father worked for the military and was posted to Uganda during the war eras. He met his mother there and a year later he was born. When he was four years old, his father came beck to Tanzania and never returned. He took a photograph out of his bag and showed me an old faded photograph of a middle-aged tall man sitting on a wooden chair with a young boy on his lap. I could not see any resemblance between the child in the photo and the boy standing in front of me, but children change as they grow older so I did not pay much attention to it.
I asked him whether he had been to the military headquarters. If he was in the army they might know where he is residing or any related information. He said the military could not locate his father based on a photograph and he did not have any other identification related to his father. I felt sorry for the young boy but I could not really do anything on my own. I was not even sure if he was saying the truth or was just lying to me.
Another question popped into my head and I inquired why he was looking for his father after so many years.He sadly said he lost his mother recently passed away and gave him his father’s name urging him to find the man so he could help him. He had no one else besides his mother to look and care for him.
I was very affected by his story and asked if he had reported to the police. Maybe they could help him file a missing person report and commence an enquiry. He said he had contacted them and proceeded to show me a loss report of all his stolen belongings. I suggested that he should take help from the media – newspapers, radio. They had a wider reach and could be a great help to him. He said the radio station asked him for 15,000 shillings to air his story and to help announce that he is looking for his father.
I am a Daddy’s girl and being miles away from him is a daily struggle for me. I love him so much, I can happily give my life to save his. Maybe it was that father angle that induced me so I gave him 10,000 shillings to help him out. He thanked me profoundly and left the office.
As he was leaving, one of my colleagues saw him and asked, “How much did he con from you?” I was puzzled thinking he could be joking. I explained the story he had narrated to me and how I had wanted to help him. He smiled and told me, “the guy is totally fake person and liar. He goes around offices and shops asking for help so he can get some money. He presented the same story a few days earlier to the nearby shops and offices as well.”
I honestly do not know if he was lying or saying the truth. I do not know which version is the accurate one. I rest in peace knowing I did a good deed. Whether he lied or not, let God be the judge.
We can lie to the world but not to ourselves. I want to start the day with a clear and not guilty conscience.