I stood at the bus-stop waiting for a tricycle (Keke marwa in local parlance). It had been a long day and I was tired and wanted to get home quickly. A young boy probably in his late teens passed by me with a girl also in her teens. I did not take note of them until he walked back and stood before me. “Please ma, we need money to go home.” He said.
In situations like this, I always prefer to follow my instinct. I looked at him and said; “Sorry, I do not have what to give you.” I had two notes in my bag. One fifty naira note for the marwa I was waiting for and one five hundred naira note.
He turned and started walking away. On second thoughts, I decided to call him back. “Where are you going?” I asked him.
“Ikotun?” I said almost screaming. Ikotun was definitely a long way from where we were standing. “Where are you coming from?” I asked.
He looked at the lady who was standing away from us. “We are coming from our mother’s place at Orile. We did not even meet her and…..” He was saying and at a point I could not hear him again. Either he started talking quietly or the noise from the moving vehicles drowned his voice, I couldn’t say.
I looked at the “sister” and noticed that she neither looked in our direction nor did she make an attempt to come to where I stood talking to her “brother”. I was still contemplating on what to do when I heard someone call in the rude naija style.
The boy looked in the direction of the call and I was forced to look there as well.
“Helloooo sister, don’t mind them.” A marwa driver on the other side of the road with passengers in his vehicle called out.
That caught my attention and I looked at the marwa driver and listened intently.
“That is how they go around. They are lying. Don’t mind them.” He said to me.
He then looked at the boy who was standing beside me and said; “Ë ma se ara yín. Àwön ömö oní’ró òshì.” (You will meet your waterloo, silly lying kids).
The boy looked at the driver and acted confused. I tilted my head as I asked him; “So people already know you?”
“I don’t know what he is talking about.”
“Really?” I asked him. “How come he is so sure it is you? Do you think I have met him before?”
The boy couldn’t give me a response. He turned and started walking away.
I looked away and concentrated on the search for the marwa to take me home.
As I eased into the marwa and was driven towards my destination, I couldn’t stop wondering about the young boy and his supposed sister. How long had they been at this tactic of getting money from unsuspecting people on the streets? This is one of the reasons why people are wary of helping people on the streets; because how do you differentiate between people truly in need of help and the liars? Are the young ones now so lazy that they would rather beg than work for a living? I shook my head as I imagined them wasting their lives and destinies for peanuts.
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