Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The little girl

Good week everyone. Firstly I want to thank everyone who has visited and read my blog for the patronage. You have made it worth my while. The feedback, the comments have been so heartwarming and the others hilarious. Thank you. And whoever it was that withheld his/her name, please don’t tell my mum I rode on a bike without a helmet! My past week has been uneventful save for an incident at a petrol station that had me confused.

I had gone to a petrol station in the neighbourhood to fill my tank up. I prefer this particular station because the staff is quite friendly and one of them in particular, Tosin, always welcomes me with a winning smile; naturally I gravitate towards her to the exclusion of everyone else. On this particular morning I drove to her petrol pump and as she was attending to a customer before me, I patiently waited. Presently a young lady sidled up to me and asked for alms. I looked at her and was a little surprised.

She was quite young, between the ages of eleven and thirteen … What was unusual was the age and demeanour of this beggar. The ones I’d seen were either younger scruffy children of five to eight or adults who had some form of deformity or the other. This was the first time I saw an adolescent begging. And she looked clean too, scrubbed, like she’d just run away from home. I also make it a rule not to give alms to children as I feel that patronage would further encourage their parents to keep them from school where they are most needed. I would rather give the parents themselves or the handicapped and/or the elderly. I looked at her and told her I had nothing to give and she left me alone. By this time Tosin had finished with the customer before and come forward to attend to me and I made to open my tank for her to commence her fill up. As I did so, another car, a Honda, drove up and parked at the pump beside mine. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the young girl walk up to the car, bend down and begin to speak with the driver. I thought nothing of it and turned back to Tosin, asking her how her weekend was and if the dreaded menace of the fuel shortage was going to rear its head again. I heard a car door slam and turned round. The young girl had entered the car and I stared as it started up and drove off – without getting any fuel!

I desperately hoped he was some relative of hers or even perhaps a neighbour who was taking her back home. Somehow I knew it wasn’t so. Maybe if I’d given her the money she asked for she wouldn’t have been compelled to go with the stranger or perhaps demanded to know what business the driver had with her. I just stood there nonplussed, guilt wracking my insides.

This is an issue I have only questions and no answers for. Why children? What is there about that girl to savour except innocence? Innocence she needs to metamorphosize into a fulfilling adulthood? Aren’t we going to be parents some day if we’re not already ones now? Why? Never mind the children; they are not to blame. Their hearts are the enclave of foolishness anyway, so guidance is the only way to put them on the straight and narrow. Aren’t we guides anymore? I’m at a loss for what to say except to say this: “The child is the father of man.” The children of today are the drivers of tomorrow’s world. Let us never forget that. I still await answers to my question and in whatever torrent they come, I will welcome them. Have a great week everyone.


  1. Unfortunately, this is the Nigeria we live in today.Poverty so profound in some circles/areas that even children are forced to turn tricks and don't doubt it, the little girl was going to do some work for whatever money the driver would give her.Don't feel guilty, she would have collected your money and still made it into that car. You don't know just how many people are depending on her to bring home food money.

    Our unversities are now glorified brothels as most female students source for money from "boyfriends" or "uncles" or "sugar daddies" and it is seen as normal.

    Its quite a pity about the little girl and others like her. They lost their innocence and childhood way back due to the poverty and conditions they have had to face over the years.Cheers K, you wrote well.

  2. "I desperately hoped he was some relative of hers or even perhaps a neighbour who was taking her back home"...I hope so too oh...infact, I pray so...

    "Somehow I knew it wasn’t so"...scary, but I don't think so either, for the heart of man is desperately wicked...I hope and pray that wasn't a rapist/ritualist, who picked the girl up...

    I guess it's only human to have felt guilty, but in many cases, even when you do give them alms, they simply move on to the next "customer"...

    For your questions...I can only say, I'm asking same here...may God help us...

  3. Hey... as i followed ur pictorial description in my minds eye of the event at the filling station. i could not help but feel a stab in my heart when u said she stepped into the car and the driver left without filling his tank. Reason? the level at which our morals have sunk... couldnt he have given without wanting something in return? is what she's doing her only option?
    ...sorry, am supposed to be answering questions and not asking...

    do i realy have the answers? am not sure. i'll say this though...its only human for some to want to take the guilt of others. but u know what K? people can take a lot of things from us; hook or crook.but there's one thing they cant take from us, and that's our 'Will'. All she and others like her needs to understand is that she has choices and better options even with the level of poverty in our society.

    wont judge her cos am not in her shoes so i dont know how much it pinches. but if we can do our own little part by "giving anyway," (note: she may have just collected ur money and moved on to the next person, so burst the guilt there)even when they dont look like they need it, we may just be helping the society begining a process of restoring our innocence and dignity.may not be alms, could be other forms of help.but each of us have a role to play.

    thought provoking piece K. nice one...

  4. just scrolled back up to read again before constructing my comment.
    People used to say in the past, '' the world is coming to an end''. I think i would like to rephrase... 'the world had ended'!!!
    I don't even know what to say. Hmnn
    Rachel (above) said begining a restoration process, where exactly do we start?
    I'm thinking of a million thots on people exploiting others for selfish gain. Life isn't fair. Let me just keep it short by keeping a positive attitude and trying to do what I can in my own little part of the world.

  5. Anonymous(above)... u asked were exactly do we start? u have answered it...keeping a positive attitude and doing what u can in ur own little world. little drops of water they say makes a mighty ocean. i can do a little, justdoyin(above) can do a little, K can do same, u have aleady started. just think of everyone doing something little in their own little world...for me, i think thats a good...or should i say "the best way to start..."what do u think?

  6. Hi Kalu,

    First, I am the one who threatened to tell mama about you and your helmet less ride through Lagos traffic on one kpako bike LOL! Since I think you've learned your lesson, I will hold my mouth for now.

    Secondly, the fact that you've pondered this issue, felt enough spiritual prodding and a push to write about it is a testament to the fact that you have managed to maintain some of your own innocence...I don't mean you are naive, I mean that you haven't lose yourself to the cynicism that this world can quickly breed in us if we really take in the onslaught of the world's situation around us.

    I lay my blame at the feet of the government of Nigeria. Those in power are at fault for this young woman having to make this very adult, serious, emotion/spirit killing, risky decision. I don't think this girl will be out "hustling" if her parents and/or members of her family were suitably employed to be able to provide a decent roof over her head, a decent meal and basic necessities...if education was free and social services available etc.

    A government that doesn't take care of it's young should be prepared for a bleak future.

    As for the man who was willing to take her on; literally and figuratively, his judgment will be meted out by God.

    Conscience seems to be passe these days...sad!


  7. its such a crazy world. but you and i know that driver is no relative or neighbour of hers! She feels she has to use what she has to get what she wants! but what does she really have in the true and real sense? intelligence, brains, creativity, name it. people should stop using poverty as an excuse to do wrong! on the other hand guys never cease to amaze me! they just see a girl (esp. such girl)pick her up and next thing something goes down. its such a strange world. I wonder if these guys dont even think of their safety! well, thank GOD we'v all not lost our innocence!!!!!!!

  8. don't sweat it bro,it's not ur fault.lets just hope she's ok and things get better for her

  9. don't sweat it bro,it's not ur fault.lets just hope she's ok and things get better for her

  10. i def. love post{s} that make{s} me think...
    Hwever, I do believe we have passed the stage for laying blame...it's about time each and every one of us does something in our way, our fields, profession, e.t.c to make a difference. It is true that there is a possibility that even if you had given her the money, she would still move on to the next person...but really, how far can she go with the amount you give her? [Note: am not justifying her actions, but people wud hv to learn hw to fish as oppose to being given fish]. If we make an effort towards change in our individual and little way, there wud be progress.

    Even the govt there is only so much, they can do. If Uni's where sme studs hv parents dat re able to sponsor them still get involved in "aristo-ism", hw much more studs dat dnt hv any sponsors? Some parents need guidance themselves before they can guide tomorrow's future- that is the younger generation!

    Great Job on your post!

  11. i would say that life is learning everyday,just like an everlasting school where we all are students for life.God knows wat happen to that little girl at the petrol station,But u should gotten into a little conversation with d girl any way Lets pray dat all is well with d girl.Lets always help when we have the chance to.thanks.Nkem