It was several years ago on the vicious and wild streets of Lagos Island, broad street to be precise. I was a young girl filled with dreams and had just secured a job in the travel business, eager to provide the duty of care in a meaningful and satisfactory way to our clients. I was one of those little ambitious ones who had a career list filled with things I needed to achieve. Howbeit, my ambition did not blind me to the things happening around me.
I was naïve and not very familiar with the Lagos commercial transport system. At the close of work each day, I would roll out the paper where my father had scribbled the directions on how to get home. I would gaze at it for long and make my way to CMS bus park (I know what you are thinking, my husband, tells me all the time that my mental road map needs resetting). If you know Lagos Island, you will have to agree with me that human activities and the insurmountable crowd can be scary.
I lived at Egbeda, Akowonjo then, so I did hurry to the queue of buses at the close of work each day, so I could board the one that was almost set to go. While waiting, I always noticed this street urchin or area boy as they are popularly called shouting, yelling out bus destinations so vehemently. When these buses are filled with passengers, this area boy would fight, claw and pinch at the bus conductor who thought to sneak away without giving him the money due for the job done. In return, the bus conductor would heap insults on his head, which either led to an exchange of strong fists or payments. This urchin had a medium size towel whose colour I couldn’t figure out due to lack of washing. This towel was used to clean sweat, blood or sputum, all results from his daily hustle.
I watched this man repeatedly, fascinated by his determination to do something, add value and get paid for it whether it was legal or not. A day came in his usual musings, he fought and this time, he lost. My heart cringed, and I walked up to him, tapped him and gave him 500 naira. He smiled ever so brightly. From then on, every time I came to the bus garage, he would seek me out and embarrass me with local indigenous praises.
Four months after, there was a fuel crisis in Nigeria, and it became harder and harder for commuters. This specific day, I got to the bus garage. After a very long wait, only one bus was available to my destination. I could hear the biting sounds of crickets and the darkness was becoming dense that you could cut a solid mass out of it. I didn’t have the strength to fight for a seat with non-disabled and strong men. I wasn’t going to descend into barbarism, so I stood there, my eyes mist with tears.
This street urchin noticed and saw me and immediately, he jumped into the fight and commotion and in no time offered me a seat. Was that the reward for my 500 naira I gave him so many months ago? I do not know. Our society is becoming dystopian with each day that passes, and Kindness is becoming a rare commodity. Let us try to change this narrative in our businesses, personal, social and religious lives. Remember, Kindness means caring a little more than usual. Angels are not always winged creatures or radiant beings as we are made to believe or think; mine came with dusty feet and a scarred body.