I tilted the trash can to see if any one still wandered about the street. I wondered when the hustling and bustling of the city might stop but it may never come.
Noon had dawned on the city, so it was the perfect time to carry out my personal operations
Who was I? A social outcast, a beggar, a wanderer, a tramp. I was nothing than a vagrant, and homeless fool, a bastard!
I had watch my mates lavish the two naira notes in their possession and then sprinkle the sachet water which they had possessed; the children of rich men. I had no one, no mother, father, brother, guardian, nothing. I had nothing. I belonged to nothing and no one.
Why, why me? Why did the God in heaven decide to punish me? Did I commit an affront? Why succumb to insult and maltreatment? I had no one to run to. Why silly bites in my stomach? Why crave for the little of edible things around me to eat? Why this cauldron belly and scaly bones around my chest? Why this scorched throat?
I had many questions to ask but none were answered. What did I look like? That was one question that could never find an answer. I have constant migraines, but why do they come in frequently. I feel a sledgehammer bang against my head, it hurts.
It was six ‘o’clock and the restaurant opposite had come out to take out the garbage. I mulled over the thought of why this set of opportune people will waste such amount of feed. This people were ingrates, egoistic and self-centred souls, and greedy creatures, they never thought of anyone but themselves.
I bent down lower as I sighted the worker from afar off coming towards my direction with the garbage in his two hands. My mouth watered for food and my stomach cringed for impatience. I bent down as the garbage poured upon my face laying still until the man was done and ready to leave. Immediately I couldn’t find his foot on the ground, I scribbled through the pile of dirt like a dog; Uhmm, what delicious treats that had been wasted. I felt rich, like a king with every sort of food at his command. I made sure I ate as much as I could because this was all I had till next tomorrow.
I heard a little giggle which caught my attention. I looked up to see a male of my age pointing at me laughing louder. “Church rat, Poor beggar” he shouted. I ran away as fast as a human might ever catch up with a cheetah till I got to an alley. I sat still squinting in a corner, crying.
I woke up the following day after falling asleep on a rock. I woke up with a back ache but all that couldn’t change anything; I still needed to find a means of living. I stood up, hearing a loud grumble from my belly, I began to massage it.
What I was going to feed on, I didn’t know. Even the appropriate meal to be consumed by a human, I had no idea. All my life, I have been feeding off of trash cans. I wondered how do they even feed on that white foam that is always placed on a brown cone paper—ice cream. Or how they eat bird that keeps walking along the road aimlessly? What life was I living without a useful taste bud?
I went back to my usual spot of survival which was opposite the restaurant. Once I got there, I stood still listening to the mellifluous music which echoed through the walls of the building. It was beau, angelic and awesome. Music was the only substance that could calm my soul and body and make me feel at ease. It was surely a string instrument and it was extremely superb. The restaurant was also decorated with red placing roses and love templates every corner.
I ransacked the garbage for any leftover, but the rats were already feeding on them and I wasn’t going to take the risk of eating with rats. I hissed and climbed out of the garbage can, thinking of what to feed on next. I needed to eat; even my growling stomach knew that.
I heard the bubbling of the market two streets away into the main road. It was then that the idea of stealing popped into my head and I just couldn’t let go of it, so I went to the market.
The market was rowdy and noisy as always. And as usual, the sales men would always run to the middle of the street performing acts and stating the benefits of the medications which they sold. The hawkers were always running from vehicle to vehicle trying to sell their goods so as to make a living, and as for the passers-by who always tried to look decent kept drifting off from the catfish market to avoid splashing of blood on them.
I sat down with folded legs; I placed a paper bag which had been drizzled all over with grease on the ground. I was there for over three hours, but those wretched bloody civilians that passed by didn’t drop a dime. If I knew the language they spoke, I would have communicated with them but I was a gap-toothed illiterate.
The scorching sun began to burn my skin but my body had adapted to it. My body had adapted to the anopheles mosquitos, tsetse flies and the sun burns. I just prayed for a penny, until there was a miracle. A little younger than me dropped a Naira note and as she did, in her eyes I read love, innocence, and a purer future; I smiled.
Forget that! Forget all of that! They all are still wicked, because they feel they are rich, high and mighty they idolize money and quarantine the poor and yet it’s a little girl that tries to change my mind, Scrap all that!
Everyone out there is ruthless and selfish, never thinking of any one but them. Countless people have seen me suffering and crying over the years but none decided to help. Later they had come out putting their fake petite videos on how they were charitable to their fake hired child actors.
God why? Why didn’t you feed by worried stomach with a silver spoon? Why didn’t you show me what family meant? Art, Aesthetics, Talent, Music, Sport? What really all those meant. Who is a human born without love and learning to love? Who is giver born without love, joy, friends, family and appreciation?
I placed the naira note into my already patched trouser which I found in the city incinerator truck before it was taken to where the incinerator was located. I was my perfect fit although my bulging belly always propagated much trouble each time I tried to buckle it.
I stood akimbo, staring like a vulture searching for its prey. I immediately caught a quick glimpse of a woman who had a thousand naira note sticking out of the back pocket of her crazy jeans.
She seemed to be calling a public bus attention so as to board it to her destination.
I set to my feet and walked speedily, trying to be as cunny as I had never been before and more devilish. I approached the lady behind a carefully swiped the thousand naira out of her back pocket; I took to my heels. If this was a child’s educational series, I’d probably be hearing ‘”swiper no swiping”. And for the first time in my life was I holding in my hands a thousand naira—‘Owo blow’.
I went back to my hideout, the alley where I had cried earlier. I brought the note and dusted it, I even kissed it. To me, money was beautiful and I felt so rich staring at this note but I still was going to spend it.
I slapped myself twice, what was I turning into? I only had one thousand and I already was getting pompous and smug. I needed to stop, maybe sit down and be humble and not have an irrational hostile attitude like the other humans out there. I clenched the note in my folded wrinkled palms walking hurriedly to the market.
I got to a canteen where I could purchase food to fill my empty belly, since my first prior situation was to feed my empty stomach which growled like a lion. I was in and out on what to purchase but man has to make decisions, don’t they?
I walked into the restroom, my breath was bad, and flies kept perambulating around my head. I stared into the mirror and beneath my eyes was bags; I hadn’t had a good sleep the previous night before. I lifted my eyelids and my eyeballs were red. I picked up the air freshener in the urine basin; it was solid so I mistook it for soap. I got into the toilet, turned on the shower and the rest was history.
Holding a burrito in my hands, I hurdled down the street devouring the sumptuous delicacy in my fingers to the tip. The first time I had eaten a well prepared classed snack and what differed me was that I didn’t waste. I ate it all up and even rinsed the package with my tongue.
It was a close shave. The second time I tried to steal they almost caught me and set me ablaze. I tried to look around searching for my next target on the same spot where I last begged for alms. I spotted a man who had a pair of headphones strapped to his ears, I felt he wasn’t paying attention and his wallet was smiling at me. I had no idea he was one of those ‘ọmọ ibilẹ’ kinds of guys. I crept up to his back about pulling the wallet out fully, he held my arm. He began to shout ‘thief’ causing a scene, I slipped off from his grip and ran for my dear life.
I got back to the alley where I formally was after the chase was over and I had lost sight of the man. I sat and began to cry, continually questioning God just as I’d done before, asking; Why, why me? Why did the God in heaven decide to punish me? Did I commit an affront? Why succumb to insult and maltreatment?
Who was I? A social outcast, a beggar, a wanderer, a tramp. I was nothing than a vagrant, and homeless fool, a bastard! I squeezed myself at the corner, crying, I was living the life of a poor beggar.