Heading home from work this evening, I was stuck in traffic. My phone batteries were down hence there was nothing to fiddle with so I settled for one of my hobbies; people watching.
That’s when I saw him, a little boy not more than nine or ten years old. Clothes worn thin, bare footed, and he looked so exhausted. His skinny neck strained under the weight of the heavy tray filled with huge plantains which he struggled to balance atop his head.
Sweat beaded his top lip and brows as he made his way towards the car I was in. I beckoned to him and he walked over. I asked him how he was but he was too busy telling me how much the plantains cost that he didn’t hear my question.
I had no intention of buying plantain, but I just wanted to talk to him. So I asked him what his name was and he told me. I also asked him if he went to school today and he slowly shook his head, “No, I didn’t go to school today” he said in a voice so tiny that I could barely hear.
Horns blared and a bus driver spoke to him rudely, asking him to move away from the road. Quickly, I rummaged through my bag and handed him some money and our car moved forward.
From the side mirror, I watched him chase our car till he got to me. He was out of breath and barely coherent but he managed to ask me why I gave him the money since I didn’t buy anything from him. I smiled at him and asked him to buy himself a pair of slippers. He smiled back at me and told me he had a pair but he took them off so he could chase after his customers more effectively, I told him to keep the money anyway, he thanked me and told me he was grateful he might have said more but again our car sped off. He looked so little as we drove further away from him, and I wished so hard that I could take him home, feed him, run him a hot bath and tuck him into bed where he should be fast asleep at this time.
Soon I lost sight of him and I broke down and cried because our system is broken. In what world will a little boy hawking on a major express way by this time of the night be OK?
I am home now, tired but deeply upset, because every time I close my eyes, I see the little plantain boy.