One day, as we were coming back to Ibadan from Ago Iwoye, we branched at Iwo Road. We had gone to drop a friend at the motor park. As we left, my brothers said that they wanted to buy plantain chips. Luckily, there was a boy who sold them just a few feet away from where our car was in the traffic hold-up. However, when my dad called him, the boy was busy rearranging his wares and did not hear. When he did hear, it was unfortunately the same time the traffic started to move. Not wanting to cause another hold-up, my dad also moved his car, albeit slowly, so the boy would not have to run too much to catch up.
The touching part of the whole scenario, and the reason behind this write-up, was that, realizing that potential buyers were slowly moving away, and not wanting to lose the money, the boy began to run after our car. And he did not just run, he took off his slippers before running. Seeing that, my dad shook his head and said, “Ó mà se o- What a pity.” Upon hearing those words, a lump rose in my throat. I was full of pity for the boy. I wondered, what if, after running that much, he had gotten to our car and we had said we were no longer buying? And what if we bought just one? Would fifty naira have been worth his run, without slippers on a road on a cold harmattan morning? We bought four, that was two hundred naira, but if I’d had five hundred naira, I would have given it to him and asked him to keep the change.
When we turned to the other lane, the traffic hold-up was worse, so when we got to where the boy was, I was able to get a good look at him. He looked about thirteen or fourteen years, if not more than that. He had several marks on his cheek, like he had been beaten with a broom. He also looked very tired, even though it was just eight in the morning.
There are several other children on the streets like him, who do not feed well, who face terrible conditions everyday just to make a living. Many of us tend to look down on people like him, call them street children, hooligans and all sorts but not all of these children are bad. They did not choose to be where they are. So, next time, when you see ‘street children’, do not try to intimidate them with your flashy clothes and gadgets because you have them, instead, think of how you can make life better for them.
It could be you in their position.