I sat on a stool very close to the pavement of the gutter hoping every passer-by can glance at my direction and drop anything in their pocket into the blue bowl in front of me. The security men kept chasing me away and today will be my last day sitting here to beg for alms.
I sat on the pavement leading to the main road with four different lanes. Facing me on the other side of the road is a gargantuan, dilapidated three storey building. The first and second floor were empty but the ground floor was partitioned to stores and pre-occupied with different businesses like motorcycles, generators, store house for beer and a dealer in shoes, bags and lots more. While in my direction, it’s pre-occupied with the new generation banks in row; one after the other. As I said before this is my last day sitting here to plead for alms and would never come back here again and have been profitable to me. I watched passers-by moved past in speed as I watched the inconsequential amount that was dropped into my bowl.
My mind travelled back to when I was young and how I roam the street begging for alms and hoping an alteration would ever come which I never witnessed. I know nothing about my father because my mother kept it to herself, anytime I question her about it she get aggressive towards me for no reason. The last time we talked about it, I ended up with a scar on my left hand which I will never forget.
I am the only child she had, unlike our fellow friends in the act of begging with maximally up to four. We lived under the bridge with our fellow beggars day and night; the children go out begging and sometimes dragging passers-by by the helm of their clothes while our folks wait patiently for returns. Sometimes, we come back with our hands full and sometimes an extremely terrible day.
As I grew up into a young girl, I was attracted to a guy called Jeremiah whose family were on the street too. We felt this chemistry between us. We could not illuminate what it was but had this feeling we are meant to be together but we were always short of words whenever we are together. I can remember vividly how he chased away other guys and has been protective and has always been there for me. I remembered how I almost got sexually assaulted by street urchins but he rushed to the scene that night and saved me from them.
As months turned to years, the tides changed and his family felt it was time for them to make a change in the family. They wanted a change of environment and it was time to leave. Jeremiah rushed to me and dragged me aside, advising me to follow his family but I turned down the idea because my mother was seriously indisposed and can’t leave her alone. He walked away with a depressed face and that was the last time we saw each other.
With time, my mother grew old and passed away leaving me to roam the world alone with no kith and kin. I grew up to be a slim woman in my late forties with moderate hips, my long unkempt and unplaited hair and always in my green shirt and black skirt with white stripes dragging past my knees and in my brown slippers. I carry my moderate, black bag with me which contains my clothes and necessary things needed to nurture myself. Till this very moment, Jeremiah was always in my heart and it took me time to realize I really loved him and can love no other guy like him again and I really never did. I made innumerable attempt to search for him but it was aimless and purposeless.
My mind was afar off when someone tapped me on my right shoulder. I turned to look at the stern face as round as my bowl staring at me. He was dressed in his usual deep blue and brown khaki and black boot.
“Today is your last day here.” Said the security man
“I know.” I replied
“This is 10:00am and by 4:00 clock I want you out of here.” He ordered demonstrating it, by checking and showing me his wrist watch.
I nodded my head and he walked back to the sit on the bench very close to the gate. I watched people moved speedily to and fro as if I was lifeless, everyone spellbound in their thought, the few that turned towards my direction had pittance amount to drop from their pocket. I had good and bad day and my mind flew back to the good days which I never forget because I was able to eat three square meal, take a bus to different destination to continue with my act of beggary without trekking and made alteration. In the good days I have encountered, I have been able to obtain a room that looks as portable as a store just to sleep at night than to sleep under the bridge. That’s why staying close to the bank has been profitable to me but being disturbed over the past two weeks by this guard provokes me but I am mystified on what to do. My intention is to move close to the last bank on the row, next to a filling station and a car dealer but can never be as good as my present position.
I sat down tranquilly as I watched vehicles ply the road. Buses stop to carry passengers and different event unfold in front of me which I could not expound. Today seems to me as an unexplainable day, things have not being rosy since morning.
A woman walked out of the bank, well dressed in blue suit and in high black heel shoe. She moved towards her black Toyota Corolla but stopped to face me and dropped two hundred naira on my bowl, I prayed for her as she entered her car and drove off. The next person was a young woman who stopped as if she wanted to drop money in my bowl but changed her mind instead insulting me and walking away.
“Why should a woman be lazy when she has two legs and hands I can’t help?”
I did not reply but watched and noticed the tightness of men’s pocket towards giving these days as a sign of unstability in tides. A lanky guy showed up, with his small head in light blue long sleeve with blue tie, wearing a black trouser and a black shoe. He held a brown paper bag envelop in his left hand. Even a slight wind can blow him away and his whereabout will be untraceable. He looks like someone coming from a job interview, the appearance on his face looks uncertain. He was contemplating if to give or not. He weighed his pocket, shook his head in discord and walked away.
A guy of average height blew past from the bank and dropped fifty naira in my bowl and walked away. My attention was distracted by a man who dragged people’s attention to what he was selling by singing and advertising. A large nylon was spread on the floor. He scattered clothes and shoes and jewelleries. He rang his bell singing and people gathered around him to know what his products were all about.
I never knew when I slept off in a moving world where I was static, my head resting on the wall. I woke up due to a heavy noise which drag the attention of everyone to them and made the bus-stop stood still and paid attention, a truck carrying goods and a luxury bus just collided. Crowds gathered to watch while others thought of helping out. There was misunderstanding between the drivers of both vehicles as the crowd helped to resolve the issue. The day was far spent, the people that plied the road reduced drastically but nothing changed about my bowl. The sun was fading away, I knew it was time to leave and never come back to this place again to resume my new duty in my new place of solace. I stood up, picked up my bag, counted my money which is just five hundred naira and put it inside my bag, packed my belongings and walked away as most companies and shops close down.