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COMPASSION IS UNITY; UNITY IS COMPASSION: A short story from Nigeria

By

Nuru Regardless Nyaku, July, 2019

It was around some minutes to 9pm. This little boy who couldn't have been more than 6

was at this bus stop. He clutched his plastic bucket just like he would a stuffed man size

teddy bear or a feathered pillow. Men in their numbers passed him without even a care in

the world. I was one of those without the care even though I noticed him.

This guy breezed pass where I stood, with his very ripped jeans, dreaded hair and pierced

ears. I remember myself then thinking 'hmmm.... dis wan fit be all these yahoo boys'. This

'yahoo boy' was the only one among hundreds of us that squatted beside the boy and asked

what he was still doing out at this time of the night. I started noticing them because my first

instinct was telling me he wanted to steal the boy.

My side eye was on him because I didn’t want to look directly and spook him. Then I

noticed he stood up and started approaching me. I thought damn I've been made, so I

looked away. I felt a tap on my hand and I turned to face him.

He said "oga please help me tell me wetin dis boy dey talk, I be Igbo, I no dey hear Hausa, I

wan know why e still dey outside by dis time".

The boy told me that he had to finish selling what is left of the water especially since he had

lost the money he made from selling water since he came out. I asked him how much he has

misplaced, he said he misplaced about N140 or so. The guy brought out N100 and gave me,
he said "tell am na wetin I get be dis, tell am make e just use am go back house tell him

mama say d money don miss. Small boy like dis no sopos dey out by dis time".

I added N200 to his and told him what the guy said. The boy didn't even hang on to thank

us, he just jumped up and left. We didn't wait for him to do that either, we both went our

separate ways.

This is another lesson life has taught me. Imagine the only guy I thought was trying to steal

the child was the only person that identified a child in distress and was willing to help. He

didn't have enough, but he wanted to help nonetheless. Imagine how much was in our

pockets while we stood idly and endangered the life of this poor kid. By some providential

design, he told me he was Igbo and he... wait how on earth did he feel I could understand

Hausa? Anyway, lets skip that now.

He is Igbo and if we were to go by the disdain on social media, one may be tempted to think

that compassion was a distant echo. But he reached far beyond what he needed to do to

help this little Hausa boy when many Hausa speaking people just passed by, including me.

The compassion in our hearts I feel is the unity that we need. And, decency in dressing has

nothing to do with the size of a man's heart. I judged him by the ripped jeans and the

pierced ears, but he had a heart very much larger than mine with my decent kaftan and cap

to match.