The first day I met Bella, I immediately knew I had to be friends with her. She was everything I was not, everything I wanted to be. That cute dimple on her face made her look like she was smiling all the time and she had an attractive personality. Everybody wanted to be friends with her. She was not only beautiful but intelligent. She was always at the top of the class. Her parents were rich, u know, there was always a chauffeur driven car that brought her to school and back home at a time when me and all the other kids walked home, slinging our school bags over our heads. Whenever Bella and I walked together she was the one that got noticed. I can’t count how many times I heard the words, ‘this is Bella and her friend’ (nobody knew my own name or so I thought). So u can understand why I resented Bella though she was my friend.
An only child of her parents, Bella was constantly showered with gifts from even her rich aunties and uncles. I can remember when she told me that her uncle bought her a computer which she kept in her room. She showed me a polaroid picture of her sitting in front of the computer (polaroid cameras were in vogue then). In the picture, I could see the numerous barbies and teddy bears on her big bed. I thought about the small bed I shared with my two sisters and three brothers and sighed inwardly. Suffice it to say I always wished we could exchange our lives one day. She could become me and I her.
It was years after we graduated that I met Bella again. She was so excited to see me and invited me to her house. She was driving a nice car while I was walking home on my way back from d market. I told her I just had to drop the bag of foodstuff at home before going with her. She offered to take me home. At first, I didn’t want her to see our humble flat but I said ok. When we got to the house, I introduced her to my mother as my childhood friend. Mother in her usual cheerful manner convinced her to stay and eat first before going home. My siblings were all nice to her. She naturally became part of our cheery quibbles and laughed all through. I could tell she thoroughly enjoyed her stay.
When we got to her house, she honked her horn a few times before someone opened the gate. It was a very big mansion with large grounds. I could feel an eiery chill as though the temperature was different from that of the rest of the town. She even spoke in low tunes as if she was afraid someone would hear her voice. We walked quietly into the house and we entered her room. There was a dead silence in the house. She was about to close the door when I heard a deep male voice call out her name. She answered, ‘yes father’ and looked at me, a quiet plea in her eyes. Then she told me her father didn’t like strangers in the house and might shout if he saw me but I should please not feel bad. I went with her to the palour where her father sat in a big settee watching a life sized tv. We greeted her father and she told him I was her very good friend in primary school. He looked at me with disdain and told her that he hoped I wouldn’t stay long. She seemed so happy at that statement as we went back to her room. Then she told me that her father probably liked me. Ordinarily he would have sent me out of the house immediately. He was afraid of strangers because he was afraid someone would kill him. I asked about her mother and she seemed surprised at my question. Her mother had been bedridden for most of the years since she was six. She thought I already knew that. They had cooks and servants who took care of the house and nurses that cared for her mother.
Bella was silent for a while and then she sighed and said to me, “Why do you think I always envied you and wanted to be you? You have brothers and sisters, loving parents who listen to you, a wonderful family, friends that genuinely like you, people who care about you not because they want access to your father’s wealth but I’m all alone. My house feels like a prison and my father is the jailer. Trust me, Mary, you wouldn’t want to take a walk in my shoes.”
The point is your shoes are perfect for you. Stop wishing to be someone else. You don’t really know what her life is like and you can’t wear her shoes. God will never give you a burden that is too heavy for you to bear.