Parable of the Talents – Retold

This isn’t clear-cut “retold” like Maleficient or Cinderella, it’s how I picture the scenario every time I walk by…

I use the overhead bridge in CMS at least 3 times a week, on my way to work. I’ll walk you through the journey.

I’m walking from Marina road to the other side of the road where CMS bus stop is.

From the moment a passerby hits the path that leads to the stairs up the bridge, you’re faced with 5 to 6 or even more small children. They’d swarm around you like little ants to sugar, arms stretched upwards begging for alms.

If you’re able to walk pass without budging, there’s more ahead.

On the filthy bridge, filled with unexplainable liquid sipping downwards by the side and wrappers of all sorts of junk eaten by pedastrians, there are no less than seven adult beggars. Their disabilities are mostly “unspottable”, blind and one; obviously crippled. The kind of crippled that has limbs smaller than arms and has his butt permanently on the ground as his fixed position. He’s the servant with ten talents.

He sits on the bridge with a broom in hand and a yellow plastic bowl somewhere close. He sweeps the bridge to make it comfortable for us to pass and for him to sit. He moves with his hand on the floor to move his body and he sweeps the dirt off the bridge to the end of the stairs. He feeds himself off the proceeds that come from his yellow plastic bowl.

The first time I saw him, my heart thud with something I can’t explain. I walked past and kept turning back to look at him. No, he’s not sitting there to beg to survive, he’s working for it. I see people file up the bridge with something in their hands already, waiting to drop it in the yellow bowl. There are at least 6 others on that bridge, none of them look as sorry and helpless as he does. And none of them do anything extra to make a difference.

Call me sentimental, but seeing him makes all the difference for me. I said good morning to him today and he responded with the brightest smile and added “have a good day”.

He spoke clean english :)

Read the Parable of the Talents here… I’m suddenly not sure there’s a connection x_x

Of Tyres and Death

The funniest thing happened to me this morning.

Let’s take two steps back.

Few weeks ago, I was at Obalende, en route home. There was a little fiasco afar off, people gathered, chanting different things. Some were stuck on “Ole” (that’s thief in yoruba) others on “Kill him” and some others again begging silently for mercy. I asked some passerby what he stole, he said gala. You know gala? That hard supposed sausage roll we consume in traffic that goes for fifty bucks. Yeah that. That dude was about to be sent to his grave for it.

I’ll move on.

I took a bus to work this morning. I was in front next to the driver. See ehn, I live at the end of Lagos and I work on the Island, so I leave my house in the middle of the night – 5 a.m. – to beat traffic and get to work in good time. It’s the life of a hustler, I know.

I’ll move on, again.

I spend the commute sleeping, as expected, so this morning, I was asleep. Unusually sound asleep too. Suddenly the driver taps me and hands me money, I hold it and sleep back. He taps me again and hands me more! It was at this point I realized passengers were passing their fares to him from behind and he was handing them to me so he could concentrate on driving. After everyone had paid, he said to count the money, the expected sum was 5,500, I had 5,400.

He shouted “Who never pay o!, the money never complete” I drifted off again.

I woke up when I realized the bus had stopped moving.

I woke up to angry shouting passengers.

You see, from the 5,400 accumulated, two passengers were gonna collect change summing up to 900 bucks!

ONE WHOLE THOUSAND NAIRA WAS MISSING!

Oh, the bus was filled with angry people, I say.

We spent the next twenty minutes tryna find four people who hadn’t paid. Everyone swore they had. The driver said he wouldn’t move an inch till he got his complete sum. They all continually screamed in frustration.

I sat still, blank eyed, wondering why I woke up in the first place.

Someone suggested we help the situation and contribute 50 bucks each for the guy. I dipped my hand in the side zip of my bag – where I put my change – to contribute my quota.

I found a stray 1,000 naira note.

You know the rest of the story.

It’s not you, it’s me.

This is the part where you call me in.
This is the part where we sit, an air of discomfort swirling around us
This is the part where you look me in the eyes and say with a broken voice “What went wrong?”
This is the part when I look in your eyes with uncertainty and attempt to proceed

***

“It’s not you, it’s me
I’m bored. I’m jaded. I just can’t go on.
I’m in dire need of some new kinda activity. Something different. Something new.
I didn’t grow out of you. I just…”

My voice trails off when I see your look

***

“Don’t patronize me!” you scream
WHAT. WENT. WRONG?!

***

I look at you, rise from my chair and walk towards the door.
I take one more look at you
“Nothing went wrong.” I say
“It really isn’t you, it’s me.”

***

This is the part where I walk away
This is the part when I hope you call me back
This is the part when I hope we would have another conversation when you’ve cooled off
This is the part when I hold on to that hope.

***

Sometimes I stand at a distance and look at me

I see her
Walking languidly
Keeping the weight of the world steady on her shoulders
The zeal and agility that once shook her core, gone

I stand apart and look again

I see her
Walking gracefully
With such poise and strength
Assertive in every stride

I see me
A living oxymoron
Happily sad
Enchanted and repelled
Within and without
Demure and Wild
Peaceful yet violent

I see me lost, yet found.

All the bright and beautiful things in this world fade
Or do they brighten up?