As the sun rose up in morning sky, 26-year-old Yahaya Aliyu hurried from his hostel room to the main entrance of Modibbo Adama University, along Girei Road in Nigeria’s Adamawa State. A corps member, Aliyu resided temporarily at the student hostel of the university.
Dressed in his khaki trousers, Aliyu stood by the busy roadway, trying in vain to flag down a tricycle that plied his route. A good few of the tricycles that rode past were filled with passengers. Once or twice, Aliyu found a free vehicle, but the rider wouldn’t give him a ride because Aliyu’s money was less than the standard fare.
“The experience was the same with the few other riders who stopped after the first one. They said that I needed to pay N200 to reach the destination I was heading to, but I could only afford N100 at that moment,” Aliyu recounted.
So he lingered patiently at the roadside. Soon another tricycle rode past, and like the others before it, its rider insisted on the N200 trip fare even as Aliyu pleaded for N100. A woman who had been sitting in the back of the tricycle chimed in and agreed to complete Aliyu’s payment.
As they journeyed down to Jimeta, Aliyu showered his thanks on the woman. She clearly understood the situation people like Aliyu could sometimes be embroiled in. “Looking at the current economic turmoil in the country, it’s difficult for one to pay all his bills with the stipend being paid to him as a corps member while being far away from the warmth of their home,” Aliyu recalled the woman saying.
The two strangers drifted into a conversation about Aliyu’s educational portfolio. She was impressed with his qualifications in English education and asked if Aliyu would be interested in coaching her 7-year-old ward. Aliyu promptly agreed, and they swapped contact numbers.
“When she told me that she would like to hire me to offer English lessons to her child during the weekends, I felt surprised, how could someone just believe in me through a chance encounter inside a tricycle,” Aliyu told Prime Progress.
Reaching her destination, she paid the N200 fare for Aliyu and promised to call him later in the day.
Aliyu could not contain his excitement as he spoke to the woman later that evening. She invited him over to her house at the weekend to introduce Aliyu to her son. Thus began Aliyu’s weekend extramural teaching gig, with a modest pay to augment his NYSC allowance.
Looking back at his life through the years, the 26-year-old graduate acknowledges that sole encounter of kindness on a tricycle as his most delightful memory during his service year.
“Sometimes, a chance meeting can lead to unexpected opportunities. I can’t forget that it was that ordinary morning inside a tricycle that brought up about this blessing,” he said.