I had not seen my best friend for almost 30 years. When I saw him again, this time at a hotel lobby, he was looking very ordinary. He wore simple Ankara attire. I felt touched. He walked up to me and I was glad to see him again. But deep within me I was not impressed with his status compared to mine and poor me, I could not hide it. We exchanged contact details and I could see the joy in him as he collected mine.
I told him I will drop him home in my brand-new Range Rover and I pointed it out to him proudly. He declined and said he had already called for his car. It looked pretty old, a 2001 Honda Accord. I invited him the next day for lunch at my house. A part of me wanted to impress him and show off my success and affluence to him.
He drove to Parkview where I lived. He looked impressed with my home. I had taken a heavy mortgage. In fact, I was heavily in debt. We had lunch. He told me he was into small business and particularly real estate. I brought up more business discussions, but he did not sound too interested. I asked him how I could help him. He said he was fine. I even told him if he was interested, I could help him secure some loans. He looked at me and smiled. He told me he would invite me over soon to his place. His old car came for him. I was grateful to God for what I had. “Fingers are not all equal”, I thought to myself. I was lucky. I worked in a good place.
Two weeks later, we went to see him in Ikeja, my wife and I. She was reluctant to come with me because she was not impressed with the man’s status. I was able to convince her that we were close friends in college. We saw the Estate. It was named as ‘Wuraola Estate’. We asked for directions to his home. Those leading us spoke his name with respect.
It was a simple but lovely home. A 4-bedroom bungalow. I saw 4 cars parked in front. We entered his home. It was simply elegant with a touch of class inside. He welcomed us warmly. Lunch was well served. His wife called him Baba Wuraola. During lunch, he asked about my Managing Director. He said they were friends. I saw a company gift on one of his tables nearby. That company owned about 38% shares where I worked. I enquired from him about it. He smiled. He told me he owned the company. He also owned the estate.
I did not know when I called him Sir, I was in awe of him too. That day, I had learnt a lesson in humility. A big one. Appearances are deceptive. He noticed my discomfort. Driving back home, I was very quiet. My wife was humbled and extremely calm. I then looked at myself thoroughly for the first time. Living on loans, heavy loans and showing off while someone who pays my salary is quite modest and living a simple life. What if I was grateful for everything that was given to me and I would not judge people according to the clothes they wear or which vehicle they are using. Successful People always have Silence & Smile on their Lips.