My encounter with a beggar at a busy motor-park in Lagos made me conclude that the saying ‘a beggar has no choice’ was not entirely true!
One sunny Sunday after the close of Church service, all I had left in my pocket was N150 and would need N100 for my bus fare home. The N50 naira left could go for anything at the end of the day, but as I placed my head on the seat in front of me, I dozed off. A gentle tap on my upper arm woke me up but I didn’t know the person who tapped me. The ageing man spoke in impeccable English Language to me. He told me a brief ‘history’ about his sour experience of marriage. His estranged wife left behind two young children and the younger one had been admitted in a hospital, he said.
This ‘beggar’ as I quietly referred to him in my heart, looked at me straight in the eyes and said: “I ‘m sorry to be out here soliciting for assistance and inconveniencing people, but I hope my child gets well so that I don’t continue to constitute a nuisance.” This grammar was too much for my head that hot day, so I dipped my hand into my pocket and brought out all I had. I took away the N100 that was needed for my bus fare and handed over the N50 to the man. Rather than take the N50 and at least show some appreciation, he looks away, looks back at me and responds with a question for me: “Is this all you can give after telling you my sad tale?” Not done, he continues: “How many N50 naira notes would make up what I need urgently? Just do well to add the N100 naira to it.”
I looked around to be sure I wasn’t dreaming. I looked at him and almost chopped off the hand he brought forward to collect the money I had extended to him. I didn’t know when I burst out in anger shouting, “So you had a choice and decided to come and disturb people like me?” All so good, the bus was fully occupied and the driver just zoomed off, cutting the long story short!