As I was walking right out of my grandmother’s house, he stopped me, calling for help above the din of his motorbike. Unsure of what to do next, I tried to continue walking, but he directly addressed me, and in my confusion, I turned to listen.

The man was about mid 30-40 years of age, and his eyes had that weird unfocused quality to them, like he had a problem with his cataracts or something. He began to sort of plead me for help, telling me of his life’s problems.

A wife who already had four little ones and one more on the way who refused to be separated from him; a landlord who had shut him out of the house due to late rent; family who had cut ties off with him and no institution willing to help.

I was slightly confused. Shouldn’t the church (which I referred him to, but he told me he was rejected from for help) have contacts to which could house a family for a few weeks? I stated that that should be, as the church was supposedly a sanctuary for ALL. But he hit me with a hard truth.

“You say the one thing, but over there, it’s another.”

He asked me for help. But for what kind of help, I couldn’t see. For he had already mentioned someone offering to give him food, but he told me that was not enough. So what did he see in me? A young-ish girl walking out of a rather old house have to spare him? I had my own problems; money, though not as dire, was hard for me to come by too.

It occurred to me that he could be scamming me, to earn a quick buck with a roundabout story, as my mother had warned me later when I got back from buying lunch; bringing her fears to life – her precious daughter being approached by bad intentions. But what made me sad was not the dawning knowledge that I looked gullible. No, it was the fact that the man’s story could very possibly be true. And the only thing I could offer him, a man who claimed to be of the same religion, was a prayer as I walked away.

Over the next few days, my company of old ladies fussed over me, worried for my safety should something like this ever occur again and God-forbid, take a turn for the feared. I don’t know if I would have helped him, even if I had the resources at hand. The sadness of stories like this is that the realness of experiences like the man claimed to have is sometimes only that, a claim. Would I rather spare the man some cash, putting myself at ease, or condemn myself to have fallen for a trick? The easiest thing was to walk away, but me being me, the thought lingers around in my mind, until another takes its place.

On another note, I did quite well for the short story competition, earning a place in the longlist for top 10 out of a selection of 22 other stories for a compilation for an anthology coming out in March 2016 😀 look forward to an update on that! 🙂 Thanks for reading ❤

-Sarah A.