Home Opinion OPINION: Playing Pharaoh’s Butler With The ‘Pure Water’ Boy | Yinka Fabowale

OPINION: Playing Pharaoh’s Butler With The ‘Pure Water’ Boy | Yinka Fabowale

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I’d just stepped out of the 24-storey Cocoa House in Dugbe, Ibadan, where I went visiting colleagues at AIT/Ray Power, domiciled on the 5th floor of the imposing building when a pang of thirst reminded me that I’d left the unfinished bottle of water I was drinking in the office I just left. The fury of hell’s furnace could not have been fiercer as the rage of this afternoon’s sun. I felt like being baked in the oven, as its intensely hot rays sank into my pores, producing a cascade of sweats. Ironically, the wetness could not assuage, but rather merely aggravated my thirst.
Just then, I saw him, a boy-hawker with a fairly large-sized blue plastic bowl of cold sachet water precariously balanced on his young head.
I beckoned on him for a piece of his wares to refresh my parched throat.
Grinning, he made a pick from his load and tried to hand it over to me, as I fished out a N500 bill from my pocket.
Beholding the money, the lad hesitated and said: “Ha, ko si change, sir! (Sorry, I don’t have change).
Disappointed I turned to go, but had hardly taken two steps, when I felt a tug at my arm from behind. I turned around to see it was the ‘Pure Water’ seller! He held a water sachet in his hand which he offered me: “E gba, e mu.” (Have it, sir).
“But, you said you didn’t have change?”, I asked, half confused and almost beginning to suspect the young hawker of mischief and attempt to prey on my sense of vanity. If he expected I would play the ‘big’ man and forego N500 for a ten Naira worth of drink, he certainly had another thing coming.
But, his reply shocked me: “E ma worry, sir. Mo bun yin ni” (Don’t worry, sir. It’s a gift from me.”
Now, I was even more flabbergasted by the sincerity I could perceive in his tone. And for some moments I was overwhelmed with emotions by this show of love and kindness from a small child, obviously from a poor home and perhaps, much more in need of expression of the kind of virtue he just exhibited. I humbly and gratefully took the drink, which, I finished in one gulp.
I then turned to interrogate my young benefactor.”What’s your name?”
“Abiodun Sulaimon.”
“Why are you on the street, hawking don’t you go to school?”
“I do, sir. I’m a pupil of Sacred Heart Secondary School, Ode-Aje in Mokola. I’m in JS1. I only hawk to help my parents after school hours.”
“So, why did you give me the sachet water free?”
“It’s because I could see you were very thirsty and really needed it,” he intoned innocently.
“But if you are N10 short when you make sales returns won’t your parents be angry with you, won’t they punish you?”
“No, they won’t, because I will make it up from the N60 they gave me for lunch. I take 60 Naira everyday to eat lunch.”
The 12-year old lad goes daily to buy a bag of sachet water from a distributor in the area, patronized by other kids of his age and some illiterate women. He is expected to buy the second from the profit he makes from selling this initial one and invest the turnover in buying more.
For all his efforts and the risks he takes dashing through traffic in this Ibadan central business district for such long hours, Abiodun would be lucky to return home with a paltry N600 gain! That is profit from selling 10 bags in a day! He makes N60 per bag, he said.
I was so impressed by his heart of charity and industry that I decided there and then to share an account of our encounter with you, friends, almost immediately.
But alas! It’s past a week now that, I, like Pharaoh’s Chief Butler, just remembered my ‘sin!’
Friends, Abiodun may not be as materially lucky as “flogged Lucky”, but help me appreciate, with your love and prayers, this young beacon of hope that all may not be lost yet with the coming generation.

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