Tag Archives: Begging

The Begging Child

Tell me please…how is it that you speak so well but move in the suburbs?

Well, I go to school and sit by the window listening to people speak.

What exactly is your story little one?

If I start to speak out the words describing exactly how I feel, how we feel, how it feels, we may spend the week here and perhaps the weekend too. However I am obliged by my mates here to give you just a sneak peek of how we survive here daily, how we live just for the day with no hopes of a tomorrow because truthfully, our tomorrow never comes — we only have today.

We come from diverse neighborhoods and estranged homes but somehow we all found a family in each other. I am here with my elder sister — who is autistic and my kid brother. Our poor parents died a very long time ago of some strange illness and our villagers sent us away saying we were possessed. My siblings and I found our way to the big city after several weeks of trekking and eating raw plants in a bid to survive.

I thought that after coming to the big city, my elder sister will become normal once we saw the ‘Man that God sent to Earth’ so that she can take care of my brother and I, but I think my sister’s faith was not strong enough and because she did not believe, she remained as she was. And so I was left with the responsibility of taking care of us.

I cannot start to tell you how many people tried to sell us when I approached them for food and shelter for myself and my siblings and how we always kept running every single day to avoid their angry-money wanting hands but I can tell you how we finally found a home, a home where we all understand each other — this home where you are now looking at all of us.

It was one heavy raining night — when the city of Lagos had gone to bed and people like my siblings and I had been chased out from under the bridges for a cleaner Lagos without nowhere to go. I was very cold but more so, I felt pity for my sister who did not understand what was happening and was crooning behind my brother for warmth, constantly tugging at his shirt. In that swift moment of desperation, I cut my long skirt in half and wrapped her with the half of it hoping she would leave our brother alone but she kept clinging to him. I looked at them with tears unshed as I prayed silently for the heavy rain to stop. There was no way we could find a shelter with the kind of rain that was blowing sand and dirts into our mouth and faces. We ran around looking for shelter in abandoned stowaways and market sheds but at every turn we made, someone else was already occupying it. My kid brother must have seen something because he started running and I grabbed my sister’s arm and ran with him wondering what must have triggered him. Suddenly he stopped, looked at me and shifted back. I knew what that meant, so I stepped forward and walked into the shabby uncompleted building and created a shelter for us all. It was not a covered shelter but it was a place where we could hide by the corners and rest our heads till the morning with the rain still falling on us.

I must have slept off for too long because I felt someone jab me by the stomach, quite intrusively. My first instinct was to fight back but as I opened my eyes, I suddenly closed them because the light shining down at me was too much. I realized it was morning already as I looked up at the young lad who had jabbed at me. I quickly stood up and smoothed my skirt saying ‘I’m sorry, we will leave now,’ as I bent back to wake my siblings.

“Let them be.” I heard him say to me. “Who are you?”

“Nobody,” was my instant reply… “we are not meaning to intrude. We will go now.”

He kept quiet as he watched me wake up my siblings, telling them that we had to leave. I didn’t realize that he had two others standing with him way up in the opposite direction until one spoke out… “they are clearing the streets because of the elections and locking up people like us. Stay for a day before you set out with your people, it is not safe out there today.”

I turned to face who had spoke and saw a young girl just like me looking at us. Suddenly, I realized there were so many peeping eyes from several corners of the building looking at us. I held my siblings closer not sure what next to do. “Please, let us go. We meant no harm.”

We mean no harm too. We are just like you but we have made a home here, and you are welcome to join us after today. Stay and join us for the morning food. The younger boys have gone out very early to get the scraps that the Akara women and the buns seller at the junction feeds to them. It is usually enough for us all to manage till the evening when we all get back from the daily hustle, only that today’s hustle will be different because of the elections, so the girls may go out in the afternoon with some of the boys to see what food they can hustle and I and the older ones will go out later tonight to help with the night meal till we resume work tomorrow, hopefully.”

I looked at them in pity wishing that I could help them all, and then realizing that I was also in the situation, I offered to help. “Can I join the girls in the afternoon…I am sure I will learn from there.”

Take today off and rest. You will need it for tomorrow, hopefully when we start work proper. Get used to the system here. What should we call you?”

Oma.”

And the people with you?”

My sister, Blessing and my brother, Osas.”

Welcome home, Oma.”

That was how I made a home and we grew together in friendship, making sure that we took care of each other at every turn while on the streets hustling and begging and making sure that the 35 of us all returned home safely. That was two years ago.

We used the money from our begging spree to start the business of buying and selling but only three weeks ago, the police arrested Stanley, the head of the house because he was hawking at odd hours. I tried to go with the second eldest to beg the police to release Stanley but they would not listen to us. We pray for him everyday hoping that one day, he will come back to us. We are trying to raise money now to get him out and so we are more merciless with our begging.

Just in case you see me running towards you or towards your car, please remember to put some money in my bowl, it is for Stanley’s bail.

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Lagos Hustle 3 – Forgetfulness

So then, it does not depend on human desire, nor of human effort but of God who shows mercy – Romans 9: 16″

This life is all just but a fallacy.

So last week, the Practice manager and myself had been discussing about how much I spent on the road and what would have happened if I had to beg. I remember myself clearly saying “my God will not allow such”, to which she replied “You think all those people that find themselves begging on the road want that? It can happen to anybody, even inside a bus.”

I could not understand why somebody who was able-bodied would have any reason to beg inside a bus. She then proceeded to tell me the story of her friend who was going to work from Lekki to Obalende. Her friend had been dropped off by a neighbor at the bus park. She boarded a moving bus towards her destination and half-way through the journey, the conductor started demanding his payment. Her friend having ransacked her entire bag found out that she forgot her wallet at home. Just then, she began to fidget, shake and tremble [I know my expressions mean same, leave me].

The impatient Lagos conductor started screaming, “Madam, abeg pay me my money naa. E da mi lohun oo, me I no get change”. 

She looked at the conductor with teary eyes and begged him to stop her but the impatient conductor started screaming,

Abeg madam pay me jhoor, after we don reach half way, you come dey say you no get money. All this weyrey people…” and he continued ranting and raining abuses on her.

Luckily for her, a man inside the bus agreed to pay for her after realizing that they were heading the same direction but she declined still crying and sobbing uncontrollably. To her, she had been embarrassed in the most ugly manner possible and she needed some fresh air. After all begging and pleading, the bus stopped and she got down still crying. Just because God is amazing, her friend happened to drive by and saw her crying as if she had been robbed [don’t forget, it was early in the morning at about 5.40am].

He stopped and reversed to where she was standing still crying profusely. After she had explained what happened, he could not help but laugh and offered to take her to the office. She protested saying she needed to get back home to pick her wallet so that she could have enough money for lunch and her journey back home after work. He refused to take her back asking her to be reasonable and gave her some money before dropping her at the office. As I heard, she cried at the office all day claiming she had been ridiculed and embarrassed by a mere conductor just because she looked like she was begging.

I clearly remember laughing at the story thinking how ridiculous it sounded to have to forget your wallet at home when you were about to hit the road in a public transport and the Practice manager told me, “don’t ever pray to be in such situation where you are torn between what to do and the only choice you have is to beg the next passenger” and I had rolled my eyes at that statement because I was a very careful person and never did I ever leave a place without my wallet or enough cash in my pocket to render me helpless that I had to beg. #Scoffs

You know the saying that goes…this life works in mysterious ways and you don’t know just what it has in store for you? Well, yes, something similar happened to me.

So I was just returning from my friend’s house and I was heading home. They had dropped me off at Lekki Phase 1 so that I could board a bus going home. After I said my goodbyes and I’ll miss you’s, I stood a while and waited for a moving bus. In few minutes, I got on the bus and sat still looking out the window, hoping to get home on time and catch some healthy dose of sleep before Monday shenenigans. After a while, I heard the familiar “Your money?”

I dug my hands into my bag and searched for my wallet, eyes still upfront. When my hands could not feel the presence of my wallet, I opened my bag fully and looked in. Side by side, corner by corner, alas, my wallet was nowhere to be found. I heard my heart jump a bit and let myself laugh just a little before I looked into my bag again. Still, no wallet!

Hian, Jesu christi! Did I forget my wallet? When last did I see my wallet? Yes, I was holding it when my friends and I went to church. Yes, I held it when I was talking to Zika and Kachi. Yes, I had given Oliver some change to buy coke. Of course, I had taken out Monica’s business card to give Oliver so he could call Monica and wish her a happy mother’s day. Yes, I was holding it when Ezinne was talking to me on the bed and eating fresh fish soup. No, I did not hold it when I was in the car, it should have been in my bag…this were the entire thoughts going on in my head.

I retraced my thoughts and realized I had forgotten my dear wallet under the pillow on the bed I was on before I left the house. This is a tragedy, I thought. Before, I could think of even losing hope or having to cry like some baby, I quietly took my phone and dialed my friend’s number. He picked on the second ring, “Hello Oliver, Please ehn, come and pick me up at New road. I forgot my wallet. Save me any shame and just turn around. Thank you” to which he quickly responded “Okay“.

I looked at the guy seated next to me, he looked reasonable and I was sure he already knew my predicament. So I did what I had never ever done before in a bus, I begged. “Please dear, can you pay for me, I’ll pay you when my friends come. I’ll come down where you are coming down.”

He looked at me and said strangely, “are you sure you will not just go to Ajah? I’ll pay.” I was too embarrassed to allow that so I quickly responded with a no. The conductor looked at us both and looked the other way again, what was his business, as long as his money was complete, no yawa!

I came down and waited earnestly for my friends after the guy had left me. I was so shaken and I thought, what would I have done if my friends were not just around the corner or if I had no airtime on my phone? My goodness!

About 15 minutes later, my friends drove by and stopped. As I got in the car, they all looked at me with pity and started laughing. I rolled my eyes and begged them to give me money to go home since they did not want to deal with Ajah traffic. My friends suggested we call Preye to verify that my wallet was actually in the house. So we called, she confirmed that it was exactly under the pillow and after she had called me stupid, we ended the call, I got some money, alighted at the nearest bus-stop, took a bus and went home sober.

This life is just a pot of beans but no matter how “beansie” it gets, I know that Jesus got me.