Monday, August 30, 2010

Photos from Nigeria

For nearly a week Rudy had debated whether or not to answer the email from the Nigerian man.  On one hand, he had tried to scam her, and she’d almost fallen for it by giving him the Daddy’s information.  That was bad.  On the other hand, he wrote that he was desperately poor and trying to support both his and his dead brother’s family.  As a cat, she could appreciate his predicament.  Cats helped each other out.  If Peep had kittens and something happened to her, Rudy would do her best to take care of them and protect them from harm. 

“Should I, shouldn’t I, should I, shouldn’t I?”  It went around in her head like a song that you just can’t get off your mind.  She didn’t want to encourage him if he was going to try to get money from her in some other way, but if he really was as poor as he said he might need someone to encourage him.  It couldn’t HURT to write to him, could it? 

Rudy logged on to the computer after Daddy left for work in the morning and checked her email.  She had only twelve messages.  Very nice.  None for pharmaceuticals or internet degrees, even better.  There was one from Tatum telling how he’d snuck outside one night for a few minutes, but that the yarn lady and the noisy girl lured him back inside with the laser pointer.  Rudy felt bad that Tatum wasn’t allowed to go outside, as there were so many interesting things in the outside world.  She did understand why the yarn lady didn’t want him to go out, though.  She lived about twenty-five feet from a very busy road, and she didn’t want the cats to get run over.  She composed a reply to Tatum, telling him that he was probably better off indoors with all the cars and trucks around his house. 

There were two email messages from the Nigerian gentleman.  The older one told a bit about his family.  It gave the ages of his children (all under five) and his brother’s children (six under age ten), and mentioned about his wife who had some mysterious problem that kept her in bed much of the time.  He couldn’t afford a doctor to find out what was wrong with her, and some days he couldn’t even afford three meals for the children.  They had to skip the mid-day meal and often the children went to bed hungry.  It was a very sad story.  The Nigerian man wrote that they didn’t have any electricity in his part of the village, and even if they did, he wouldn’t be able to afford it.  He ended his message by saying that he’d take pictures of his family and send them to her, so she could know them better. 

The newer message was shorter, asking why he hadn’t heard from her.  It also had a number of attachments, which he mentioned were the photos of his family and village.  Rudy eagerly opened them.  The photos were of small children with big bellies, but skinny arms and legs.  Rudy knew what that meant – starvation.  The village was interesting looking.  It was all dirt with round little buildings that looked like they couldn’t be more than ten feet across.  As Rudy continued to open photos she became more upset.  So many people!  They couldn’t all be his family, some must be other villagers.  Oddly enough the last two files wouldn’t open correctly.  She thought they were pictures, but no image came up.  She noticed they weren’t .jpg files, and decided he must have sent these by accident. 

She began to compose an email to him, but was too upset to write anything that wasn’t completely banal.  She logged off of the account, figuring that she’d write to him later when she’d put a little distance between herself and those photos.  She was so disturbed by them she even forgot to turn off the monitor or computer. 

Rudy walked outside and looked around her.  She lived in a beautiful house and had plenty to eat, as did all of her friends.  How could humans allow each other to starve?  Rudy sat in her favorite spot and considered if there was anything she could do.  Obviously she couldn’t send the man any of Daddy’s money.  He had enough for what he needed, but not enough to support another eleven people in another country.  She knew that there were aid organizations, perhaps she could let them know of this man’s dilemma and they could help?  That was an idea.  She began to relax now that she had a tentative plan, and drifted off to sleep as she considered to could best help this destitute man who lived halfway around the world.  

Photo courtesy of Jeff Attaway -

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