Rae of hope
August 12, 2019. The city I love.
It was no ordinary journey. During those 12 hours spent in the company of my rich father and helpless mother, I asked myself, “If I do make a filthy amount of money ever, would I ever think about how to spend it for my family?” I saw my mom, seated to my right, looking outside the window, staring hopelessly at the trees being dried to dust by the fiery Sun. My father, in the passenger seat, was staring intently at his watch, perhaps counting the money he would make on his next big business deal. “Time is money,” I told myself, with an intent to mock my fate.
But there was this young man driving us to our next destination. We’ve lived in this city for as far as my memory can remember. I was born here, raised here, and was sent to probably the best school in the country. But that matters to none, for where I am now depends on the state of my mind, my ability, and my will to face the ruthless market. Our next destination, thanks to my father’s businesses, is where I hope to find my first buck.
I didn’t know this man’s name; my father did. I eavesdropped on him last night while he was on the phone, asking his network of businessmen for an affordable driver. “No, I only want him to drive me till there. One way only. I can buy him a train ticket back here,” he told his partner on the other side. “I would never imagine my father having friends. They perhaps are like ‘a businessman in need is profit indeed’,” I laughed to myself.
And then we got into my father’s car. I managed to smile at the young man. “Is he the driver?” I asked myself. My father ordered my mom to take the rear seat and nap until we've arrived. “Ten or eleven hours. And then you can be on your own,” he said to me before he turned around to the man and said, “OK. You’ll be paid at the end of the journey.” The man smiled and acknowledged, “Sure, sir.”
I couldn’t stop staring at him. Not that I was enchanted by his personality. He was an enigma that I fail to understand. He was dressed in a black tee and a pair of army-green jeans. He had a lean, pale face and wore dark green glasses. He was tall and slim, and had a goatee that didn’t complement his frame. His hair grayed and had various shades of the stress he’d probably been through.
He had a smartphone in his left hand and his right gripped the wheel firm enough to maneuver the car. He didn’t nod an inch and looked straight onto the road that took us on our silent journey.
Somewhere between the two cities.
“I think I need food,” my father said. He ordered the man to pull over and park the car at a safe place until we came back. I barely touched my mom to wake her up before she helped herself out of the car. “Why don’t you eat something?” she asked. “I’m not hungry,” I told her with a smile. I stayed back in the car and watched the man unlock his phone. “Yes, honey. I’ll be back the day after tomorrow,” he said.
“May I ask you something?” I tried to strike a conversation. “Sure,” he replied.
“What do you do for a living?” I asked.
“I work,” he smiled and said.
“Work where and do what…if you could let me know…”
“Oh, I work as a manager for a small company.”
“Oh, that’s great. So you must love driving.”
“Yes, I do.” He turned his head away with a faint smile.
Confused and curious.
Take the plunge.
“How much is my father paying you for this trip?” I asked him. I had to know. For a man who looked that composed and sophisticated, I wanted to know. And learn about him.
“Three thousand,” he smiled and said.
His moist-eyed expression poured high emotion; that enigma clearing itself from the cloud of sentiment.
“Are you in need of money,” I asked.
“A little, yes.” He kept his face away while I tried to decipher what that expression reflecting in the rear-view mirror meant.
“I live from paycheck to paycheck and save next-to-nothing,” he said. “And I love driving. I heard of this trip from an uncle and grabbed at it instantly.”
I fell silent and asked myself, “Is 3,000 enough money for a driver who drives for more than 500 kilometres and who is only doing this for some additional money?”
“Nope. Give him more. A lot more,” answered my conscience.
“Do you mind sharing your bank account number with me? You see, I would pay for this trip,” I asked the man.
“Oh BTW, I am so so sorry, I never asked your name,” I continued.
“Ray with a ‘y,’ mam,” he replied.
“So you do know my name?” I asked.
“Yes, I heard about your new business from my uncle,” he said.
“I’m famous already?” I laughed it off.
“But mam, your father said he would pay at the end of this trip.”
“He just texted me that he doesn’t have enough cash in his pocket, if you know what I mean.”
He passed on his details and I fished my phone out to transfer his fee. “You should be receiving the money in some time.”
My father and mom came back after their meal and we resumed our journey.
The city I barely know.
“Here’s the money,” said my father, pulling some money from his wallet.
“But I’ve been paid for it already, sir,” Ray said.
“You did? That’s great!” replied my father. He then ordered Ray to help him with his bags.
“Hey, that’s OK. They aren’t heavy,” I told him.
“You may leave now,” said my father to Ray.
I smiled at Ray and waved him goodbye.
August 14, 2019.
I woke up to the message — “Hello mam. My fee for the service was 3,000 only. I received 10,000. Could you please let me know how I can send this money back to you?”
“Ten thousand is nothing. You’ve driven us to this new place safely and you have to go back to your family as well,” I replied.
“You need it more than I do, mam. I insist,” he replied again.
August 21, 2019.
I received a text from my bank that an amount of 10,000 was credited in my account. I knew from where!
The need we are in.
As I think of Ray who instantly refused to take the money my father offered, who never asked if I had indeed transferred the 3,000, who offered to return the rest of it for my benefit, and who indeed returned the 10,000, I can’t help but think about the needs we have in our lives. And to think of it, my father to this day never asked my why I’d paid Ray beforehand nor how.
Here I am with an amount of 10,000 in my bank which belongs to Ray for his exceptional service and kindness. I guess…this is my first funding.
I owe him.