Flo was doing her second favorite thing apart from reading when her phone rang and interrupted her precious sleep. The time was eleven thirty in the night which was a weird time for a call. She looked at the caller I D to discover that the caller was Eno. That was even stranger.
“Hello and why are you calling me?” She said matter of factly.
“Hello Flo… I can’t seem to sleep.”
“I’m not Paul, or Stephen, or Jeffery…” Flo teased her friend.
Eno laughed dryly. Flower could tell that something was really bothering Eno for her to call so late at night. She heard pain in her friend’s voice. “What’s wrong? Eno boo boo. Are you alright?” Flo tried to cheer her up.
Eno laughed again. “Please can you stop making me laugh? I’m not really in a good mood.”
Flo sat up. Even though she and Eno had their differences, Eno was still her friend. They had known each other since school and she knew that whatever was bothering her friend was really hurting her right now. Eno was the happy-go-lucky type. She was the act first, think later type. Flo was usually the temperamental one who thought deep thoughts about life and brooded for no reason. “Wetin happen nah.” Flo asked. She was sincerely concerned.
“You remember my big uncle right, Bridget’s father. Uncle Akpan. He came over today because mumsie was having a little money trouble and I overheard them talking. Mumsie was asking for a loan to pay Okon’s school fees. You know how it is in this recession nah. Before I knew it, this man started running his mouth, that mumsie is lazy and her children are lazy. That we, the children are the ones to support the house since my father is dead. He started talking about Bridget and her masters and how she works so hard and have achieved so much. How I don’t even have a job because of my low grades. How I’m unserious and how all I know how to do is to post selfies on facebook.” Eno sighed. Her voice shook as she spoke. “I don’t even know why she went to ask him for money. That man is so pompous. If not for the fact that Bridget went to a private University, you know that She would not have passed anything. That her coconut head.” She laughed at her own joke. “The worst thing is the way he looks at you. As if you are worth nothing. As if you are just a little cockroach and your life is in his hands. How can he even compare me to that stupid girl. I just feel so bad Flo. If my father was alive, Uncle Akpan wouldn’t have been able to talk about us like that. It’s because daddy is not alive anymore that all these things are happening sef.”
Flo listened as her friend vented out. Her uncle was a really wealthy man. Apart from the title he held in the village he was a Director in the Ministry of Health. He lived in town in a massive house, his children went to the best schools. He rolled with the creme de la creme of society. His wife had a huge supermarket to her name. They were the wealthy ones. They were truly high class. It was usual for people like them to derive joy from making others feel small and insignificant. Flo and Eno were not exactly ‘poor’, they were able to meet all their needs, they had food and clothes and had spare change to hang out at Jabi Lake Mall in the weekends. They were middle class and Flo was always satisfied at being middle class. But the truth was that there was a gaping divide between people like Uncle Akpan and people like Flo’s father. In some strange way, when the upper class saw the lower class, they expected them to grovel. They expected to be called ‘sir’ by ‘boys’ who would wipe their shoes with their faces. They intimidated them with all their qualifications, cars, clothes and money and that intimidation made one to feel quite small. Microscopic in fact. It could trample on one’s confidence. Flo knew that Eno must be feeling terrible because of her uncle’s words. The haughty man must have felt that people like Eno were ‘poor’ because they were lazy or were unfortunate unlike him. He lived on a pedestal. He didn’t care if he crushed her self-worth as he judged and analysed Eno’s family. And carried himself like a solution to everything.
“He is a jerk.” Flo said. “And so is his entire family. Tell your mum that I will write her a check. How much does she need.”
Eno laughed hysterically. “Are you sure they are all jerks? Max is his son you know?”
“Max who? I don’t know any Max.” Flo said.
“Max, Bridgets older bro. He is always asking about you.” Eno said teasing Flo.
“You serious? I never knew that he was related to Bridget. Anyway, if so, Max is a jerk too. I don’t care. We only spoke once by the way. And please, please, unfriend your uncle from Facebook. Please do that.”
“Yes ma.” Eno said. From Eno’s voice, Flo could tell that her friend felt better. Flo was glad that she had contributed to help.
“Don’t mind your Uncle. Money isn’t everything. He might go galavanting everywhere as if he’s the bee’s knees but he ain’t nothin.” Flo emphasised ‘Ain’t nothin’ jokingly.
“He ain’t nothin yo!” Eno repeated and then said goodnight. They teased each other for the last time and then ended the call.
Flo lay awake for a while thinking about everything. Yes, life placed people in classes. The divide between fortunate and unfortunate was like a sea and a desert. And yes, the rich knew it. They rubbed it in the faces of the average people everyday. That was how the world worked. Another established truth that Flo realised was that all life ended. Both rich and poor were subject to death. Though rich and poor were different, death was the likeness between the two species. Eno’s father was pretty rich when he was alive, but death took it all away one day. It was the weakness in man’s nature. No matter the pride or attention one got, it was corruptible. With time, it all faded away. It was a morbid thought but it made her satisfied with being in the middle class. In death, all men were equal, why did she or anyone have to embark on a pointless struggle to catch up with those whose treasures just happened to be more than her own when time would either take the treasures away or take the people away soon enough. Nothing lasted forever. Even the great divide that was the segregation between rich and poor did not eradicate that fact. Flo realised that death was the truth that destroyed the line of the great in between. It was the point where the sea and the desert met.