I don’t know how and why i just remembered this story. On my way home on some day some weeks ago from a training at FAAN co-op house in Lagos sometime late one afternoon, I met a delightful little girl. I’m not sure I understand fully what I mean by ‘met’ since we only just shared a bus together and there was even no confrontation between us whatsoever. Infact technically, I shared the bus with her mother since this little girl was uneasily sitting and moving about on the mother’s laps…in the bus. She sat right beside me, the first row in the airport shuttle bus, so we were right behind the driver’s and the shotgun seat. As at that time, I hadn’t eaten all day, also the night before. The reason was funny. I simply forgot to have dinner in the middle of doing tons of nothing, and in the morning, i was running out of time to take breakfast so i thought I would get something to eat sometime during the day. That didn’t work out. I was starving by the time I got to the bus that afternoon. It was like I was on an unintentional foodfast. This hunger has nothing to do with this story. Just stating my state of mind at the time.
Now, inside this bus was loud, as per really noisy. The little girl i mentioned earlier, was conversating (yes conversating) with her mom. She sat right beside me remember. The bus radio was tuned on a little loudly too. Maybe it was loud because I was sitting close, but it didn’t bother me like that since my brain wasn’t keen on listening. As usual, i was oblivious to where i really was since i was too into “pressing my phone” like my mum would always say. It was later when I got interested in the little girl’s talk that I realized it wasn’t Helen Paul’s chatter from the bus’ radio that I had been unconsciously listening to, it was that little girl! So you couldn’t request for any tuning of any volume, even with a “pretty please”.
She got my attention when she almost poked out my eyes while in the middle of her conversation. It seemed as though she was trying to point at her supposingly French teacher to her mother whom she wanted to really see the teacher. He was trying to board a bus home (i assume) at a bus stop underneath us. Chill, that sounded funny. Lol how do I explain this. The bus I was in, was moving on a bridge. If you looked right ahead and a little to the left, you’ll see where it intersected another overhead bridge. So now, underneath that is a sort of bus garage slash bus station. And that was where this little girl saw her French teacher and tried all forms of gesticulation to her mum, rather forgetting she was in a regular 14-seater not-too-much-room-for-body-movement bus. Like that meant anything to a child. Let alone an over excited one. How she saw the teacher in the midst of the rush, only God knew.
I tried to follow her fingers to the spot she was frantically yelling at her mum to ‘lookie there’. Ofcourse no proper eye seeing person would make out anything other than moving ants at that kind of distance, but this girl knew it was her French teacher that she promised to give 3000 naira to, and she planned collecting that full amount from her mum, as i extrapolated from eavesdropping into their conversation. [It’s not like I (and the other passengers) could help not eavesdropping]. Her unshaking defense was ‘I promised and a promise is a sin and a sin is a debt’. Lol
The mum tried to find out why she went ahead to promise if she didn’t have the money. According to her, ‘You don’t promise what you don’t have hunny. You’re just going to have to disappoint your teacher’.
And this is the part of the discussion that got me smiling and then writing this. The little girl wasn’t stupid. She saw mum ‘counting money that night before yesterday’.
And the mom tried to deny it by saying, ‘it wasn’t money you saw me counting’.
Oh no she didnt!
But the girl countered it saying she heard when she ‘told daddy you’ve gotten your money back’.
At this point, there were chuckles around the bus. The mum tried to help the issue but in a hush hush tone. She tried to explain that ‘the money isn’t for your teacher. It is for us to eat’.
At least she admitted it was money, but at the same time she managed to confuse her little child that ‘thought that’s what daddy’s money is for.’ Hehe
That’s when I think the mother got slightly infuriated as she told her daughter to ‘hush it. Let’s get home first’.
But the little girl still hadn’t gotten assurance for her teacher’s promised money. So she tried one more time. She thought ‘we can use your own money for food. And give daddy’s money to my teacher.’
Her mum, seeing her little awkwardly honest child wouldn’t let it go, felt ‘the other students would give your teacher theirs, won’t they? Then your teacher would be okay’.
And that’s when this child exclaimed too loudly that her mom had to put her hand over her mouth. After she dragged the mum’s hand away and adjusted her bum on the laps, she said that ‘the other students did not promise. I’m the only one!’
Before her mum could say anything again, she continued that ‘remember, a promise is a sin and a sin is a debt!’
So the mum decided to ask what i would think should have been the first question being why the teacher would need the money and why she felt so badly to ‘promise when your mates did not. Do you feel your dad and I have too much money?’
I could hear some people laughing behind. The little girl gave all sorts of facial looks and heaves and sighs and when her temple creased like she was really thinking about what mum said, priceless.
The girl started to answer but I didn’t hear anything again as I realized I was at my bus-stop already. The sides of my tummy were hurting since all the while I had tried to stifle my laughter. It would have been rude to have let out a chuckle since the mother wasn’t finding it funny at all.
Our Lagos children. Lmao