Hey Zibah here, it’s been a sloooow week and the most exciting thing that has happened to me so far was probably my encounter with a road side beggar a few days ago. Before you scoff and close the page, just read the darn story.

I boarded a bus heading home, my driver- Joe was off taking care of his business (Joe is actually one of my closest buddy and I beg, bribe and sometimes threaten before he agrees to drive me anywhere. Yes jor, the car is his not mine…happy?). The bus was ‘loading’ passengers at the park, under a bridge at Ojuelegba and I was glad to see that my favourite spot at the extreme right of the back row seat of the bus was empty. I settle my bulk in and tried as much as possible to be comfortable and ignore the metal in the back-rest of the seat poking happily at my back. Under the bridge of Ojuelegba plays house to a number of people as they urinate, defecate and bath at the corners of the bridge, cook and trade at the centre or the  ‘leg’ of the bridge, smoke, eat, sleep and do other yet-to-be confirmed activities all under the same bridge. So yes, the bridge provides a home and source of livelihood to some people; touts and honest traders alike.

As usual, there were street beggars moving from window to window of commercial buses boarding up passengers at the park. It reminded me of when I was a tad younger and a beggar with a particular problem with his genitals came up to the bus I was in, lifted his jalabiya and showed us his grossly swollen genitals; it was the length of my leg- from knee to ankle and I’m well above 6ft and the width of my bicep. I stared fascinated at it like many other passengers, but unlike them, I was thinking of the likely organism whose actions were responsible for the tissue oedema *nerd much*… wonder what most of them were thinking of anyway?

Anyway, the bus was almost filled up with passengers when a particular male beggar who with the aid of a crudely fashioned walking-stick limped his way to the commercial bus that had yours truly in it and proceeded to show us a framed writing containing his passport photograph that said;

‘‘Good morning burodas and sisters, auntys and uncles. My Name is Gafar Mustapha and I am deaf and dump and need surgery. May Allah bless you’’

That is it, no more details. Surgery for what I wanted to ask but thought better of it lest another genital be involved. I moved to bring out my wallet to give him 10 or 20 bucks but on second thought, he was relatively healthy and just because he kept gesturing with his arm; pointing at his mouth then stomach then the sky didn’t prove he was deaf or ‘dump’. On one fateful evening some years ago, I had seen a ‘crippled’ kid in a wheel chair pushed into the corner of an abandoned warehouse where he proceeded to step out of his wheel-chair, secure it to some metal stuff and walk steadily away with the pal who had been pushing him on strong steady albeit thin legs, so I wasn’t buying this guy’s limp…or the walking stick. If a miracle could happen to crippled kid every evening then who is to say limper isn’t a long distant runner at night? Hey, living in Nigeria tends to make one suspicious of everything. Thus, I mentally found limper guilty of scamming and preying on human sympathy and gently tucked my wallet into the recess of my jean and looked on.

Apparently dismayed by the lack of interest of the passengers to his ‘plight’, limper retraced his steps to the front passenger side of the vehicle and proceeded to visit the windows as he had done initially but this time, he employed a different tactic; he pointed at his mouth, stomach, sky then went a step further by making grunting sounds like he was suffering from constipation. Still not even the slightest interest was shown by the passengers. Wow! Boys are truly not smiling.

Bus full, the driver made to back out of the park and beggar armed with not a single naira note stepped aside, staring blankly at the vehicle. Suddenly I noticed him running towards the now moving vehicle (aha! No limp. BUSTED)+ and at the window in front of me, he stuck his neck, opened his mouth and sent several volley of saliva at the unsuspecting passengers and ran off, completely disappearing into the crowd of people returning home from a presumably boring day at work.

Hmmm! So that’s what he was doing while standing still, accumulating saliva in his mouth. It all felt so comical to me largely because his saliva didn’t get to touch me *cracks knuckles*, I would have jumped down from the moving vehicle and gone in pursuit of the man. Lucky sucker (sorry, action movies tend to have this kinda effect).

Cries of horror rent the air from the affected passenger and by the time the confused but now speeding driver made out what the angry passengers were saying beggar had successfully disappeared.  I plugged back my ear phone into my ears, drowning out the angry voices of the passengers and was content with the poking backrest. Hey, it beats having someone’s saliva running down your face and clothes.

All this typing made me hungry, gotta go feed.




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