The other day at around half past eight in the evening, I was walking towards the bus-stop to catch a taxi home. I was kind of in a hurry, not sure why, probably because I was starving or perhaps I was wary of missing transport home. This bids me to ask, where in the world are our taxis at half past eight?
One has to wait for about half an hour for one to show up. This is to taxi operators: If you are no longer interested in making money then please do it in the spirit of a twenty-four hour economy!
Anyway, back to the story. On my way to the terminus a little street girl came by my side begging for some money from me. I was in a hurry. The closest place I had some coins was in my wallet.
But you see my friend, my wallet wasn’t near either. It was way far away in the back pocket of my trousers. We usually like to give coins that are in hand or at least near in the side pockets and not in wallets, don’t we?
Now don’t pretend that you aren’t like me. We all like to give when it is convenient, in fact for some of us when it is convenient and when we want to get rid of some heavy coins or ugly overused 100 franc notes.
You see, if I had removed the wallet I would be convicted by a voice to do more than simply give 50 or 100 franc coins. At this time I wanted to stay away from convictions territory.
You may think I was just trying to give excuses but here is the real reason that I didn’t want to part with anything on this particular day.
It is common knowledge that these kids are dispatched onto the streets by their mothers for they have known the power of a starving child. They have now learnt that not many people still have the sympathy for starving able-bodied men and women.
Consequently, they have studied this art of provoking pity in people and are exploiting it by all means necessary, including exposing gruesome and revolting wounds to pedestrians hoping to heap as much guilt on them and thus have them cough up money like duty.
It is for this reason that I wasn’t parting with anything. You give them cash, they stay on the streets! We have made them beggars. So, no money from me.
As I whisked past her I got to voice my thoughts to the little girl which I did with three ‘NOs’, the third one was decisive enough to cause the little girl to stop in her tracks and slowly but heart-wrenchingly turn back to whence she came from. I froze.
I got to get a clear glimpse of that face. It was a face of one about to cry. One hand was clutching at the opposite shoulder trying to keep the cold away, and walking slowly to avoid getting her bare feet injured on the hard surface.
It was a face asking, ‘what have I done to deserve this life? Why can’t I be in a home with a father, mother and siblings to play with? Why can’t I have a warm meal every night before I am tucked away in bed? Am I ever going to grow up and become anything?
I felt the pinch, in fact, it was an ache in my heart. I never got myself to walk to her again and give her anything probably because of the shame of what I had done.
I probably have just killed the spirit of this young one forever, I thought to myself. I might have been the last nail in her coffin. I probably had just confirmed her suspicions that she wasn’t ever going to make it and that God created her to suffer.
I walked away alright, but still the ache hurt really badly. I know I could have guaranteed her supper that night. That would have been my social responsibility. But, I must ask, where was her father?
There is a Swahili saying that when translated says, ‘bearing children is not the job, the real job is to raise them.’ I guess the fathers and mothers of these kids don’t know this or probably don’t care.
Their best shots at life have not yielded much but they have to keep on living, right? And to them one aspect of just living is siring and hoping for a miracle.
O how we do need more miracles in our day and age. I can write on and say how the government should hunt down these irresponsible fathers and make them, by all means necessary, provide for their families that they have clearly abandoned. I mean, we are not just mere animals. We can think and plan for families.
However, I will leave that to government. One thing however, that I can do is be the miracle-giver for these children and their families.
You and me could be their best and only hope to a life of sanity and a reason to believe that there is more to their lives than begging. The onus is on us to be open to convictions and be the miracles providers to our fellow humanity.