I’m walking home from work, very tired and eager to hug my pillow. I know I will be too lazy to eat but I dream of food anyway. My bag is weighing me down. It’s the only bag I have and it is 5 years old. Daddy bought it for mummy who gave it to me. This bag was beautiful the first day I took it to class, the red leather lined around black gave it a very nice look and it got a whole lot of compliments. But as it is with everyone and everything, we all get old and soon become a shadow of our youth. My dear bag has withstood the test of time and its old age is showing, it has gotten nail injuries but it still serves its purpose.
From the junction, I can see the building where I stay. Its so close, yet so far. Each step takes me closer and closer home. The young mother of two boys, who sells kerosene at the junction is standing outside, her elbow is on the fence of the ugly looking house where she stays with her husband and children. She looks like she is thinking. I wonder whether she has gotten another round of beating from her husband who, by the way has wooed me before. I’m staring at her, while walking slowly and mumbling inaudible things to myself when someone pushes me, I look, it’s her first son. He must be 5 or 6 years old, her younger son soon follows and I hear shouts of ‘aunty oyoyo’. I want to push them away. ‘Who is your aunty?’, I want to say. But I force a fake smile and try to manoeuvre my way past them. They won’t budge. I want to give them money but I sense their mother has trained them to greet every generous ‘aunty’. I usually let her have the change when I go to buy kerosene, Yeye woman. I refuse to give the children money. The mother sees this and calls them to order. ‘Leave aunty nau’, she says. ‘You no see say she just dey come from work?’. They leave me, I am happy and I give her a ‘thank you’ look.
Home is a long minute away. I remember the case of Uncle Peter who was a senior colleague in my former place of work. He has a daughter called Miracle. Miracle, at the time was about 10 years old. She was very lively, talked a lot and was quite inquisitive. I liked her but not so much. Uncle Peter benefited from my generosity and like every other uncle peter out there, he always wanted more. He would send Miracle to ask me for biscuit, sweet. Whenever Miracle was hungry, she only had to ask. I was a student at the time but Uncle Peter was sure I was a rich girl who pretended to be a struggling student. Months later, after I had stopped working there, I met Uncle Peter and two of his children on the bus to Campus. He was in front and I was two seats behind. Time to pay transport fare, he waited till I paid mine. I, as usual, paid his fare. When we got to our stop, I hurriedly came down and started walking fast. Uncle Peter said to Miracle, ‘Run after aunty o, hold her well well’. Ha! Miracle obeyed and held on to my trouser. She was saying things I could not hear. I gave her some money so she would leave me alone but to my surprise, she said to me, ‘aunty, what about my brother’s own?’. I replied that she should share with him after all money did not grow on trees.
Unfortunately, we were all going to the same place and had to use the same bus. When we got to the final bus-stop, Uncle Peter came down and was waiting patiently for me to pay his own fare. For Chrissakes, it’s just twenty naira and he is not jobless. I refused to pay. I paid for myself and waved them goodbye. Now I am wondering what these children will grow up to be if their parents turn them to corporate beggars at such tender age.
P:S. Names used here (Uncle Peter, Miracle) are not real names.