As I woke up that morning, I sat up in bed staring into the fluorescent light in my room that had started to burn my eyes. It was one of those days when my entire body felt so rebellious as to stepping out of the bed. It was just yet another busy day of the week for me!
I had hurried off to beat the early morning traffic that rises earlier than everyone else and usually accumulates faster than a wildfire. The beautiful thing about the traffic however is that it gives you time to listen to the morning radio shows and a nice collection of songs before the hustles and bustles of the day begins. I rolled my steering from left to right swaying my head back and forth to my music that I hadn’t realised I had gone half way down the journey. I was almost at the office.
Escaping traffic earlier was no thanks yet because even if you manage to bypass it, it waits for you at the other end. You can’t get away with the Lagos traffic! I said to myself. I sat in my car, trying not to get pissed at myself for taking a route I thought to be a short-cut and instead started observing everyone on the street. From the hawkers who were already hustling to make early gains from car to car, to the school children who walked themselves to school in clusters with hefty school bags. I could not help but also notice the road-side sellers who had also gathered their own traffic with people standing in line, waiting for their turn to buy food to eat. It was at this moment that my eyes caught a glimpse of something that has left me with nothing but guilt and unanswerable questions. This is where my story begins. –His story perhaps.
He stood by my window; his weak bulged out eyes piercing deeply into mine as it sent cold goose-bumps all over my skin. Streaks of veins were carelessly spread out on every corner of his eyelids. His huge head hung above his thin neck revealing his hollow collar bones. Flies irresistibly hovered around him perching on the fresh wounds and half-healed scars all over his body. Momentarily, his pale eyes would close up and open thinly like he was going to faint at any point in time. He leaned by my window with his little palm facing up indicating that he wanted some money. He was a child beggar.
Over terrified by the sight, I could pour out my entire purse into the empty bowl of this little boy; if for nothing, just to get rid of the sight. I dipped my hand quickly into my bag and pulled out my purse. As I opened it, gleaming at me were shiny notes in thousands. I thumped hard on my steering in disappointment because I had no “Change”! I mean, I wanted to give him something, something little to show that at least I cared. It had to be some “change” however, not my hard earned “thousands”, I thought. But he was still there, waiting, hoping I would give him something as he made hand signals from mouth to belly. The traffic had by now cleared and since I couldn’t bear the guilt of not having change to give to this little boy, I drove off! Well, I’ll pass here again after work so I’d give him some change, I should have some by then…” I convinced myself.
As I got to the office, I still couldn’t get the picture of the little child out of my head. I wondered who’s child that was, and why any mother would leave their child to beg. It’s no news since we see it every day around us, children and mothers begging on the street, day in, day out. While I began to thank God for the life that I lived, I exclaimed in my head “the world is so mean”. Perhaps, I forgot I also make up “The World”. Eventually, I’d stopped thinking about the little boy and got busy with office tasks. In no time, it was noon and I had to step out to go have my lunch at an eatery a little drive from the office. Danielle wanted to come too, so we hopped into the car together and drove off. We cracked jokes and laughed so hard till I caught a glimpse of something that suddenly sent shivers down my spine! – It was him! Again! He was still on the same lane; staggering from car to car, begging! I quickly searched my bag thoroughly this time, still for some “change” to no avail. Nothing but my pristine notes glowed radiantly in my wallet. I turned to my friend to ask for some change, “what do you need change for?” she asked surprisingly. I pointed to the little boy two cars ahead of us, “Oh! That one! I see him every day when I come to work and leave, that’s all he does –beg for money! I’ve stopped being nice to these beggars” She replied. Well, I’ll pass here again after work so I’d give him some change, I should have some by then…” I convinced myself yet again.As he drew closer, almost getting to my car, I threw my face to Danielle, quickly starting up another topic. After all, the windows were shut. I had successfully passed the awful sight.
We had our lunch and rushed back to the office to round up for the day. Eventually, work was over and it was time to retire home. I cleared my table and happily flew out of the office, my head filled with plans of stopping by the mall to pick a few things before getting home. Hastily, I’d hit the road and drove off, but as usual, traffic still hits you somehow! It would clear in no time, I convinced myself but amazingly, I’d been stuck in a slow moving traffic for two hours already! I tilted my head towards my radio compartment to play one of my favourite mix-tapes and as I raised my head back up, everyone in traffic had started to alight from their cars, forming a crowd. I tried to stretch my neck towards the gathering but I couldn’t get a glimpse of what was going on. Getting down from my car and making it to the crowd, I was shattered at the sight! Every bone in me started to feel disjointed. My legs wobbled, my heart pounded, my pulse rose, my belly sank and in the midst of it all, my eyes had gathered a flood of tears. It was him yet again– The Little Child Beggar, lying in a pool of his own blood.
Not my “futile change” or my “minty notes” could bring him back to life.
“Wherever there is a human in need, there is an opportunity for kindness and to make a difference “- Kevin Heath
Nonye J. Chidolue (@NonyeWrites)
Have a week filled with Little Acts Of Kindness! 🙂