The moon hung on the horizon, clothed in flaming gold, the surviving glory of the sun’s generosity. Screeching and hooting of feathered beings flaunting feathers in the streets announced it is twilight, the penultimate arrival of another gloom for us, children of the street.
Life is a jungle in this part of the world. The fittest cannot survive without money, and the weakest are eliminated if they have no tactics to keep their hope alive. The cliché of this selfish circle of existence is, “where the richest survive, the poorest are eliminated”. The battle is keeping yourself above the poorest level, or you are eliminated into beggary till death.
If you have a means of survival, you are the hope of young girls and boys, like me, without a face, a name or something to keep the soul alive. You are our hope. We live in the spoils gathered in the battle of beggary. How much pitiful we look is proportional to how much spoil we gather. Little wonder you see us with broken smile and sorrowful countenance when we battle for a privilege in your generosity. However, our gait is not in pretence.
If you are in a selfish society like this, you will see us daily in markets, roads, running after people for crumbs. We mime a deaf in a way that tells you we are hungry. We turn our plights to songs to make you hear our feelings. We share our perspective about life in dramas and imitations. Each of our smiles is a journey you cannot complete.
We know all the market days in the world of our communities. You want to talk about the yam markets, cloth markets, morning and evening markets, we know them all. You see us in ones, twos or threes, or even more in beautiful rags, bushy hairs, and with broken parts of toys picked from dunghills, the blessing of the community for us where we live on used materials, and survive with leftovers.
We can also be guests at any place where canopies give refuge to our heavy head from the exasperated sun. Do we have invitation? Yes of course. The attire on us, wild-wide grin on our faces and the effrontery to sit where we would be noticed quickly are enough to bring your attention to our demands. You may not comprehend how we get to know about the parties…
It was getting dark; they were all sitting at a junction with a molded figure of the former Governor. They sat round it, the way they do daily when the sun is returning home. They sat in different poses that gave them comfort. They are done for the day…
The young boy over there, Samuel, with big belly filled with grievous memory of malnutrition, ran away from his family when home became hell. The best place his innocence could opt for survival was the street. He joined us, and we accepted him to be part of our family. We love ourselves, we know what it is to love, and we do it the way we understand it.
The small girl holding a puppet beside Samuel is the one at the centre of our love. She makes more money than anybody else. We do not even know why. Maybe it is because she is pretty or because she has an emotional sense of beggary that sends shockwaves of compassion to the veins of passersby. We have not unraveled the mystery, even till now.
She was dumped by her mother, a commercial sex partner, at the market down the road of this same street, when she was few months old. Alice, that’s her name. She was given the name of the street, since no one knows her name. She is a paradigm of beauty to behold. Her skin colour, cute shape and lovely natural hair make her peculiar.
It is getting dark now. The bigger light ruling the day is losing power to the lesser one, the way justice lost her government to evil in the soul of motherland. That is also the way the life of my mother lost her power to that of death.
I am their mother here. I am the oldest in the circle. My name is Hope, an irony of my story. My mother must have given me such name to comfort her predicament. On my back is Peter, and arm is Paul. They are the living testimonies of what the society gives young ladies when no one cares about them.
Stood up, walking towards the mechanic workshop not far away… lost in thought…
I was a girl the night my mother left me in the arms of strangulated hope, to stitch the tear in the dress of my fate. This tear is the distance between survival and elimination. Double the distance, you would almost accurately get the length of my neck. My neck is wearied, bearing a burden that dangles between wishes and regrets, with two balls that are at the edge of falling off to where they would see the obverse of a broken world.
I was five when mother was crushed to death. I saw her cranium gave way for her brain to paint the disfigured road with horror. That fateful day, she was coming from the other side of the road where she had gone to buy pap for me. Unfortunately, she crossed to the other side of life. I cannot forget the scene, the sight and mother’s last cry, this memory still haunts me. No wonder I have phobia for crossing the road, except we are doing it in groups.
I grew in this street where I was born sixteen years ago. No one taught me the value of what I bore in my chest, the purpose of my femininity, and the essence of the changes that started in me. So, my instinct told me to make use of what I have to get what I want. That is one of the things life taught me, and invariably, it became part of my instinct.
My pubes and privates became public regions visited in the privacy of uncompleted building, dumped vehicles, or any place that pleasure can be sold cheaply as a means of survival. Won’t I survive?
Now a mother of two, twin. Mother once told her that I have many fathers, that every man in this mechanic workshop is my father. I didn’t understand those words mother told me until now that I mother twin girls whose father is any of the five men working in the same workshop fate planted my faith.
The words of mother are now meaningful. They haunt me…
She found solace on the roots of a tree in the garden of the workshop…She laid her sleeping six-months-hold babies in a wrapper she inherited from her mother, which has been their cradle since birth. She beheld their pretty faces and sighed.
“These are wonders waiting to be unraveled, only if they receive care and attention they deserve as the only hope of tomorrow. They don’t even know what lies ahead of them, the way I do not know now”. But I know what I had being through, although my babies have no past yet.
“Why did they even come as females? A major part of my problems was being female. Females are object of scorn, shame and ignominy is this part of the world. They are misused, abused or useless. On the other side of the coin too, young boys of the street have a share in the contents of this bowl of sorrow.”
The thought of young boys suffering from social stigmas and neglect took her back to the time she met a boy who lives and begs in the other street. He was almost of her age, though, she is few month older. The boy, though lame on both legs, his imagination has no barrier. He can draw just anything that comes to his thought, sight or imagination.
She reached for her polythene bag, and sought for something. She brought a paper out and smiled to it. The image in the paper was her, few months after her mother died. The day the boy drew her with such perfect aesthetics was the day she smiled since her mother died. She remembered how the boy use words to describe that smile. She reached for her bag again. She brought out another paper. She smiled the same way she would if the boy is with her as she read through. She pronounced the words as her beat louder and faster. She did not hear her own voice, but the voice of the boy as she read through.
Her heart lingered as the end of each line, drinking the emotions painted with words to stupor. Her soul was pregnant with love for him. “If we were still together, I would not have gotten myself into this messy way of life”.
“The boy was living, not just surviving. Although, he did not have a place to call home, but he sleeps in a small shop where he draw the world from the perspective of a rejected and dejected soul. He sells his drawing, and makes a living with the money he realizes.” She thought. She remembered he told her he would not beg. She did not know her why, and did not bother to ask.
She pondered on how to bring herself out of the impoverished destiny, and save the fragile souls driven to existence by her helplessness. She hoped tomorrow would bring miracle to her wandering. Hope is the consolation given to the mind when today betrays our yesterday. Dream carted her away into the night as uncertainty hangs as moon on the horizon.
Good Luck Elemide Benjamin!
An Excellent write-up!
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