Monday, October 08, 2012

The Other Side of Town

The mother led her daughter to bend down that she may conduct her private business by the roadside. When the girl was done, she rose up as her tattered dress which had been raised to enable her do what she had to do took a free fall to her bum level. Not minding what she just concluded, she ran excitedly to rejoin her friends. And ignoring what ought to properly conclude such business, her mother casually followed after her which sent a wave of shock, shame and ache sweep all over me. The poor girl, not minding the remains of solid human waste rubbing against her thighs played away like there was no tomorrow.

Before you ask me if I just returned from a visit to the village to see my grand relatives, I will like to disappoint myself and you that the above event played out in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. My mind was set for the market as I walked out of our gated compound, walked past the gate of our fenced estate and continued through the abode of our less financially endowed neighbour when I witnessed this unwholesome scene.

As a child, I always thought every child lived my kind of life. Had a mommy and daddy, got dropped off at school every weekday, played with friends all evening and wore beautiful clothes to parties on Saturdays. When I could not rationalize the lifestyle of house helps, I believed there was a rotation system where all children in the world had to work as a house help for a certain period and I anguishly awaited when it would be my turn.

Many more years on earth awakened me to the reality of inequality and I till date battle with how we would allow such an unjust system thrive. To anyone who reasons, the vast disparity in living conditions of the different sides of town will be best described as heartless.

On my side of town, we enjoy the luxury of running water, walk on tarred streets, houses are well spaced, the kids speak Queen’s English, garbage collector rarely miss their stipulated work days and we worry when we bash our posh cars. However, on the other side of town, the taps (if at all there are any) are always dry, the feet befriend bare soil, depend on Nasco cornflakes packet-sized window for ventilation, the kids attend ill-furnished schools and 
they live with their dirt.

Little or no power lies in my hands as at now for had they, the people on the other side of town would never live as such but more like or better than me.

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