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A Boy's Tale:
A Stitch in Time Saves Nine

By Joseph Wanshe (Nigeria)

Written in 1994


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I have been privileged to witness what smoking and drinking can cost a man from a neighbor that lived just opposite our house. Mr. Jay was a heavy drinker and a chain smoker. He had a beautiful wife, two children, an expensive car and a well furnished home. Everybody living around admired Mr. Jay when he came newly from England. If only Mr. Jay would realize that a stitch in time saves nine…

It wasn’t two months yet and Mr. Jay started showing his bad colors. Every evening he dizzily drove home in such a way that people were afraid he might kill himself one day. The moment he stepped into his house, the first thing he did was to beat up his wife like a snake. Sometimes he left her naked and unconscious.
On a particular occasion, he was fighting with his wife after drinking too much that night. They were throwing furniture and kitchen utensils at each other. Mrs. Jay happened to throw a bottle which mistakenly went for the forehead of one of their kids that was asleep on a nearby chair. Since they were mad with rage, none stopped to take care of the wounded child who bled until he fell unconscious.

It was minutes later before neighbors rushed in to stop the fight. Mr. Bain spotted the child and at once rushed him to the hospital. The child recovered but the doctor said that the wound was surely going to leave a big scar after healing.

Three months after this incident, Mr. Jay lost his car to thieves at an inn. He was sleeping at a table after taking too much beer when thieves rushed in and took his keys. He didn’t know his car was stolen until when he woke up the next morning.

Mr. Jay was fired at work for being irresponsible and lateness to work. That same day, he came home to find that his wife and children had vanished.
Now Mr. Jay was staying alone, begging for money from friends who came to see him out of sympathy. His only source of survival was the food that was offered him by merciful neighbors. From dawn to dusk, he stayed at home idle; sleeping and thinking how he could get money to bring back his wife and children to start a new life. One of the most frequent resolutions that came to his mind was to go stealing or robbing.

The landlord got angry with Mr. Jay for owing two months’ rent and gave him a two weeks’ notice. This was when Mr. Jay began thinking of suicide. Sometimes out of annoyance he kicked and overturned chairs and tables and then fell back on his bed and slept. There was just nothing he could do, but to make plans for a totally new beginning.

Mr. Jay who was admired by all living around speedily moved from grace to grass through several events. His wife ran away with the children because they were badly treated. He was sacked at work for lateness which was due to heavy drinking at night. When the landlord saw that Mr. Jay was an irresponsible person and could not pay his rent, he gave him only a short notice.

If only Mr. Jay had realized that the earlier he stopped smoking and drinking the lesser it would cost him; if only he had realized that a stitch in time saves nine, he wouldn’t have lost wife, children, job, respect, friends, happiness, personality, a bright future, and finally a meaningful life.


- From Nigeria.

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