July 23, 2015 – My Tearful Encounter With A Poor Nigerian Boy Selling Cotton Bu At Silverbird Cinema In VI Lagos
I had just come out of a meeting with my new partner Lami yesterday evening, when I decided to detour to the Silverbird galleria to meet up with a friend for drinks, all in a bid to wait out the ever regular traffic jam that has now made Victoria Isalnd a tourist attraction.
After wondering round the galleria boring myself with what it had to offer, I decided to brave the traffic and go home. As I came out of the Galleria a very young boy of twelve, walked up to me and shuffled a pack of cotton buds to my face. He was very persistent and could only mutter the words, ‘cotton bud, buy’.
Now, I love cotton buds, the tickle it gives my ears and the sensation that slowly goes through my body, gives me goose pimples and makes me just sleep like a fool. This made me not to be able to resist this littles boys offer, so I asked him how much and he said, ‘wazo’. I looked at the security men and asked the meaning of what he had just said. They told me he meant N50, so I paid and collected one pack and moved on.
On second thoughts, I looked back and beckoned at him. He walked towards me, dirty green slippers flashing in the dark. He wore brown shorts, held to his tiny waist with a rope, a faded green shirt and a smile that promised a glowing future despite the present gloom. His energy engaged me and I decided to talk with him.
He lives in Ijora, but comes to VI every evening to sell cotton Buds, he had sold a pack that evening and it was a good day. His mum a local pedicurist was in Ijora with his younger ones waiting eagerly eagerly for his return so that they can prepare dinner. He does not know his father.
After each sale, he will jump on the keke Marwa to Obalende and from there he will board a Bus to one Bus Top from where he will be “seeing Ijora from afar” and from there the last leg of the journey will begins.
His skin was powdery, but his eyes where bright. He smiled confidently and was not fazed with his situation. He spoke glowingly of his mum and his business and was very sure that he would get home safely even though it was late. He always got home safely. He was that sharp and strong.
I stared at their 12 year old and I swear cried. Real tears o. His poverty touched me and I began to wonder just why would a living God allow this. Why would this boy be exposed to such suffering but his smile consoled me. He looked at me with those bright eyes and not understanding why I was crying asked if I wanted more cotton buds. I just looked at him and kept crying.
He didn’t understand the tears, but saw this as an opportunity to sell the remaining two packs he was holding in his tiny hands, so he stretched out his hands and said those lovely words, ‘cotton, buy’. I took the remaining two and gave him N1000 and he immediately prostrated saying thank you in Yoruba and blessing me.
This was the poor boy, I met yesterday. I will pray for his safety and for his wellbeing this night. God will bless him, God will continue to protect him, secure his future and give him the presence of mind to forgive this society when he finally gets his triumph.
The author Joseph Edgar is an Investment Banker, who writes as a hobby. He has a column in Thisday on Saturday