As early as 7:30 am, the hustle and bustle of Lagos had already started, traders displaying their wares, bus conductors shouting different locations at the top of their voice, street hawkers racing at the call of buyers in slow-moving vehicles, pocket pickers stalking their next victim.
Over the cacophony noise, Halimat’s tiny voice could still be heard. “Buy your cold pure water,” she shouted repeatedly – the young girl of 10 was scampering after a Molue bus to get her money from a customer. Despite her age and small stature, she had to struggle to sell more than two bags daily. In the city of Lagos, a land where experience is the name people give to their mistakes, Halimat sharpened her wits to be able to stand up to the older pure water sellers. A poor orphan left to her own fate by her wicked relatives, Halimat had no choice than to struggle for her daily bread.
As the sun sets, Halimat noticed the orange ball melting into the horizon leaving a reddish-gold glow around. She walked slowly to the place she calls home, hungry and tired. The tantalizing aroma of jollof rice and chicken made her nose twitch, her stomach groaned in protest having eaten only stale bread since morning. She saw a canopy, people gorgeously dressed in the same “Aso Ebi” eating and drinking, “They have no worries” she murmured. Hurriedly, she passed them as she headed to the dustbin with the hope of getting something to eat.
Under the bridge, a place she calls home, the environment looks very dirty, rats running around almost without their sense of vigilance, and the rhythmic sound of snoring beggars at the other end filled the atmosphere. After securing the day’s profit in her panties, she arranged the cardboard on the floor and lay down thinking, “When will this suffering end? When will I be able to eat a three square meal? Will I ever be able to rest my tired bones on a bed?” she asked herself. Tears rolled down from her eyes, sometimes she gets tired of her long list of wishes knowing fully well that there’s no hope for her.