As been narrated by the person who takes care of him
Under the Town Planning Bridge linking Ilupeju to Anthony Village, Lagos, a bag of bones held tautly together by a thin layer of diseased skin lies awaiting an inevitable death. Our bag of bones is what remains of a man, nay, boy, who despite his visceral state is surprisingly lucid, and as “cheerful” as his unfortunate state should typically allow. He is my newest friend, and his name is Musa.
I made his acquaintance on Thursday, when whilst driving to work I spotted the human heap tucked in an obscure spot under said bridge, sleeping.
Have you ever slept for 24-hours because you had no choice? Musa currently lives this reality – too weak to even beg.
On the day I made his acquaintance after buying him a hot meal, I was forced to return home because he desperately needed clothes. I brought back three shirts, two trousers, and a pair of shorts. I promised to try and get Lagos State Officials to come and rescue him. On Friday, passing my friend, he was wearing at least two sets of the three I had obliged him.
I was weak.
How he even managed to put them on unassisted beats me; this bag of bones (Calling him a “bag of bones” is understating a physical condition akin to Kevin Carter’s Pulitzer-winning depiction of victims in the 1993 Sudanese Crisis) needed me to pull him up to a sitting position when he wants to eat.
Can you imagine finding a lone bottle of water after a 10-day trek in Sahara Desert but not having the basic energy to unscrew the plastic cap, so you die of dehydration? Our man had almost lost his teeth trying to open the coca-cola I bought, when I returned and effortlessly turned the cap. Nwanne, to open coke easy until your body no strong.
Sorry for all the details, but a pathetic situation requires full disclosure!
This thing has me thinking. What is Religion? – Not fornicating? Not worshipping juju?? Fam, did Jesus die for you to attend church where you do nothing but beg him for more favors
Now, let me narrate the concluding part of this story, and hopefully justify my reason for sharing with the world what I had planned would be one of many little secrets;
I felt guilty the entire weekend. Being in utter comfort on the Island, I continued to think about my new friend at the mercy of the elements. I half-hoped the State Government’s Social Welfare Taskforce would have picked him up for rehabilitation by Monday, but nope, Musa was still under the bridge, half-dead, but still lucid enough to remember me.
I gave him his food, and held a bitter-sweet conversation with the man who now wore what up till Thursday were my shirts. I asked his most pressing needs, at least until rescue came, and he was content with food, really. Ah! My warm room and duvet weren’t enough comfort during last night’s downpour, how much more, a sick man out in the open?! I promised him an old Quilt, but I’d bring it tomorrow on my way to work.
“Bring it today. PLEASE!!” He implored, eyes darting around desperately. “I beg. Today!!”, he repeated, eyes streaming, teeth gnashed in frantic hope.
It seemed mentioning the previously-unforeseen prospect of bodily warmth had galvanized awareness of his nightly suffering – and the reality of 24-hours being an eternity in such conditions!!
I was forced to immediately enlist my mother’s help in driving down to Town Planning with said Quilt, if only to quell his growing fear that I was leaving without redeeming my promise of same.
Instead of fruits, he requested milk, and as he drank, he asked for prayers. Ah! I couldn’t possibly open my sinner-mouth to invoke the Almighty, so I made a mental note to outsource that task to others more equipped.
Looking everywhere but at me, Musa continued emotionally;
“You don spend money plenty on-top my head, na God go bless you. If I die now, na God go reward you for wetin you do for me. I happy, God go bless you anywhere you go.”
A 20-year old; articulating his untimely death as though an old man at the twilight of a fulfilled existence… a child, blessing an “adult”, in Africa. Because of ordinary hunger??!!
An Ancestor once told me – Wearing Ralph Lauren is all well and good, but abeg, wear Ralph Lauren and feed a widow. Wear your Gucci head-to-toe, but nwanne, encourage an orphan. You are human to be human. The poor will ALWAYS be with us/you – so that there is always an opportunity to give, and do more than just exist. “The only thing you truly get to keep is what you give away.”
Musa remains in good spirits. Cannot decide what I prefer; his great dentition, his love for milk (and coke), or the equanimity with which he considers the possibility of death. He doesn’t cower and beg for his life, but accepts every charity and challenge in good faith.
Here’s hoping some highly placed person/group will take up this challenge to assist in keeping the Grim Reaper at bay in at least one life.
These women are traders at the foot of the bridge. The woman in brown was paid N1000 to supply Musa with fruits.
It was added that money given to Musa is taken away from him at night by Area Boys. The clothes he bought for Musa, the money given to him by kind hearted individuals…everything, taken away by heartless ruffians. How can you see someone in this condition and still steal from him?
When i spoke to the writer, he was genuinely at loss at who to contact. I didn’t tell him I will blog the story because all he is interested in is getting help for this poor boy. Lets hope the government intervenes quickly.