We make our faces shine with oil sheen scraped from cocoa shells. We are never hungry because from idiayunre down to odo ona, you will definitely find a fishseller’s daughter willing to give away left over herrings, crabs, or shrimps… sometimes roasted, sometimes fried.
We could just run right through a crowd, and come up with trinkets, and valuables for sale. Give the park chief his cut. Keep the rest where it is safest… in our underpants.
We smoked “wood gum” out of milk tins, and we rose to the top of the world till we saw God.
There’s a hole in my shoe, and a few more in my pockets, but I have many friends with neither shoes nor pockets. My holes are a fashion statement.
You see, I never knew my papa, or my mama. Grandmother raised me and the day she died, something about me was different. I became a street kid.
People don’t understand, they look down on us with a sense of grief, pity and loss. They call us the broken people. They say life got to us, and we were not resilient enough to fight back. I am not a broken people. I choose to live this way.
What they don’t know, is that you never miss what you never had. Four walls and a home to come to, feels like a fearful fate. So fearful, I ran away from two homes where I have been taken in.
Good samaritans those people were. But what about the rules… ” kids don’t smoke”… ” take a bath, wash your mouth, go to school…” all routines with no purpose.
Or who can convince me, that there is a purpose, to paying a huge sum of money for an apartment, just to leave it early in the morning,to get to a job that hardly pays well and spend most of your time in traffic, in a car you can hardly afford, you hardly have time for the kids you say you are providing for, because you are too tired when you come back home. What is the purpose of a routine that gets you running around life, without having truly lived?
I didn’t think twice before running away from the pretentious imprisonment… and trust me, the items I carried with me, kept me going for six months on the street.
I called it my reward, for all the nights I slept in a cold and clammy bed, so soft it nearly broke my spine.
Who doesn’t want to be free, look up at the shimmying stars every night, while gobbling up fried fish and water from the streams, fantasising about the time they would rule the world.
I am free, and I am happy. I might be dirty, and it’s because I sometimes prefer to keep my change over clothes for special occasions.
There are very few things I hate. There is not much I have to complain about either. But I detest those people who try to empathise without truly understanding our life.
Some people think they have secured heaven, when they dump on us flea ridden, mouse bitten rags they cannot bring their children to wear. They expect us to lick the ground they thread upon, because they have served as God. These people, I hate.
Some people drive by and splash on us gutter water. Some threaten to hit us, if we do not get out of their way. Because we are down down below, they feel free to reign upon us, however they please. But he that is down, needs fear no fall. These people, I detest.
I cannot stand the beautiful ladies, who take extra care, to clutch their handbags when they see us. I am not promising that we won’t grab your valuables, and make you part with them without even knowing it, but the fact that you assume we would do that is just so disheartening.
I detest the government officials who make life difficult for us. They refuse to make a place for us, yet they ask us to leave.
I asked one uniformed man one day, as he hustled me into the police van ” where do I go? I have no place to stay”
and his reply to me was ” you can die for all I care. I just don’t want to see you”.
Yet, when the nail sheds inflicted with dry rot, the local government chairman will come around to take pictures.
The next day, you will see in the paper, that government is providing for the homeless, but the shed would have disappeared, because all through the night, we were all busy dismantling it, and selling the woods to carpenters.
When I look at people, I see fear. People are afraid of everything including a homeless brat like me. And that gets me thinking. Who is truly the broken person, because I for one, have nothing to fear.