by Hope Olowo
It was a lone, dark night.
For the umpteenth time, I shook my money bag, expecting a miracle. But like it was for all other times, nothing fell. Gently, I rose, with pity for my poor stomach that would once again go through the night with nothing to sustain it. For hours, all through the day, I had played my drum hoping that little, if not abundant, would fall from their pockets but nothing came. A poor orphan with nothing to feed on, nothing to live for.
I bit my lip in frustration and muttered under my breath, “It would have been better if I hadn’t been born!”
I dragged my dusty feet and my drum loosely down the street, in search of a place to lay my head for the night, but halted at the sound that suddenly filled the night.
Horses?! I reasoned. What could possibly be happening?!
My hunger soon surrendered to curiosity and worry as I hurried to a corner of the street, hoping to find refuge from what was coming. Swiftly, three fine horses ran past me and my eyes followed in wonder.
Three well-built men in fancy robes, on fine horses. THIS IS NOBLE!
Quickly, I fastened my drum around my waist and followed, running as fast as my bruised feet could carry me after the horses. The horses doubled their speed as the Masters’ whips landed on their body. There was this seriousness that surrounded the Masters, their narrowed eyes speaking business.
“Give it up!” Whispers filled my ears. “They are no good; the Nobles and their pride.”
My feet began to slow down as tears welled up in my eyes. Frustrated, I flung my drum down the street.
Would our God watch me die in hunger on the streets of Jerusalem?!
Tears rolled in large beads as I lifted my head to the sky, hoping the God of Israel would look upon my distress. My mouth opened wide to utter once again, my same old wish, “It indeed would have been better.”
“The star. It’s moving!” My eyes widened as it fell upon a bright star travelling through the sky.
Could this have been the source of their attraction?
I got up hurriedly, picked up my drum and began to run, no longer in search of what to eat but to find meaning in what was happening. I came to a halt few feet away from a manger in accordance with the star that hung over the manger. Briskly, the masters dismounted the horse, studied the environment, and nodded to one another like assassins on a mission.
“What business do they have with a manger and a moving star?” I wondered.
I crept after them, though the whispers kept telling me to retreat. But something else other than curiosity seemed to be pushing me in. I peeped into the room to find a newborn babe, obviously kept warm by the presence of its parents for the low-quality clothes did no good. I looked on as the men, not minding the filth, fell upon their knees and worshipped. My eyes widened, even more in wonder as they spoke.
They were noblemen from the East, out to find a babe, whose star they have seen and read, one who is to rule the nations on the throne of his father, David. Led by the star, they have come to worship. Quietly, I pulled my body into the room, surprised at the wonderful gifts laid before Him, The King of Israel.
I knew that I should worship too, but what would a poor boy like me offer to the one who has been handed the Sceptre to rule?
All my life, I have crawled around the table of the rich, living off crumbs that fell from it. The drum was all that I had and never have I played it without expecting something in return.
“Maybe I could play it as a gift, taking nothing in return!” My heart bubbled with joy.
Excitedly, I turned to the mother. “Can I play for him? The drum is all I have”.
A sweet smile from her and a nod from the father got me to work. I fell to my knees as I played on, tears rolling down my cheeks.
Who would have thought that a poor boy like me would play before a king?!
No, it wasn’t an expensive gift befitting a king, but a deep look in his innocent eyes told me I brought the perfect gift, a worshipper’s heart.
He smiled, and I knew all would be well.
Hope Olowo is a Nigerian currently studying at the University of Ilorin, Kwara state, Nigeria.