I was on a bus on my way home on Wednesday evening , when I noticed a little boy was trying to open the zip of an old man’s purse who was sitting beside him and his mum. The boy was sitting on his mother’s lap so I thought he was below 10. He was well dressed, in milk coloured uniform, socks and black shoes. The mother was also well dressed; she looked like she worked in a bank.
When I first entered the bus and saw the boy and his mother, the first thought I had was ‘Lagos children dey try, this one has probably been awake since 5am, and he was still in his school uniform at past 7pm.’ As I watched the boy, I wanted to alert the old man, but the boy was so little, his face still had traces of baby fat. He continued opening the zip little by little while holding a conversation with his mum, smiling and telling her about something that happened at school.
I was transfixed, to tell the man or not? People might beat this boy blue/black this evening.
The man knew, and maybe like me, he thought the boy was too little to be stealing so he allowed him, but when the boy continued and his hand was firmly in the purse, holding a wad of cash, the man clamped his wrist and started shouting, ole ole.
Sigh. Thank God it wasn’t me.
His mother burst into tears. Apparently, the kid has been stealing randomly. She told everyone on the bus how he had started stealing when his father left them late last year. He stole things he had in excess, sometimes random things he had no use for. She said she was scared of taking him to the market.
One woman at the back of the bus said “you don carry am go church? This pikin get evil spirit, na spirit of thief dey worry am’’ and to my surprise, the mother said yes, she has carried him to several churches, still he continues to steal.
By now the mother was already slapping and pulling his ears. It was the same old man he had tried to rob that was now pleading on his behalf, ‘na small pikin, no too beat am, pray for am, etc’
Prayer and deliverance, the Nigerian solution to everything.
I tried to chip in, I told the mother, ‘no be spirit problem be this one, maybe you should…’ the woman behind did not even allow me to finish my sentence.
‘Na spirit! Wetin you know?’
‘Spirit of plenty things dey, spirit of ashawo, spirit of lying, spirit of husband snatching, spirit of …’
I got to my bus stop.
When I was a teenager I was Commander-in-chief of burning food. If you ask me to cook anything, or even just monitor the progress of the food, then expect to eat it crispy. After I burnt some eggs I was asked to boil, my Mum said I had the spirit of burning food. Then I had imagined this spirit to be black (like all the food I burnt) and following me about. It was scary.
But what really happened was that I was very absent-minded. I lived in my head, forgetting about reality, especially when there was a book at hand.
Same for this boy, he wasn’t stealing before his father left. He was not yet 10 years old. Something triggered this problem in him, I hope his mother moves away from the deliverance business and finds a real solution to the problem because a simple ‘ole!! Ole!!!’ in a market might get mad people to put tyres on his neck and set him ablaze.
Una happy independence from spiritual issues!
Read more from Lucia
Lagos people can do over-sabi – Lucia Edafioka