John had become emaciated just from being sick for a day, or maybe I was having issues with my eyes.
After he sat up, he requested water, and I gave him one of my bottled waters.
I had finished selling for the day and only had one water left.
I noticed his water wasn’t there, and he said he didn’t go to get water to sell because he was sick.
He didn’t even have enough money for the hospital.
The doctors were not friendly at all, and they wouldn’t start treatment without money.
The next thing I saw was John falling on the floor.
He was breathing heavily until he eventually stopped breathing.
I was extremely scared, so I started screaming and calling for help.
What I was scared of had finally happened.
I tapped him, and he woke up smiling.
“What’s the meaning of what you did?” I screamed at him.
“How could you scare me that way?”
I gave him a stern look, and he said, “Catherine, no one has even been scared of me dyińg.
What are you so afraid of?”
“It isn’t about you,” I retorted, brushing him off with my hands.
I wasn’t ready for that conversation he was bringing up.
Then he saw how serious I was and said, “I’m sorry Catherine, I didn’t mean to scare you that way.
I was just joking with you.” I didn’t even want to talk to him.
He made my heart skip a beat, and I was breathing through my mouth.
That was the worst one minute of my life.
I couldn’t watch another person dīe, and what he did might have been a joke to him, but it wasn’t to me.
“The day I lost both my parents, it was just like a dream,” he said.
I turned to look at him and his expression had changed.
I felt like he wanted to let something out of his heart, so I sat down beside him to listen.
He started by saying that he was just a regular child, enjoying life as if the world belonged to him.
His parents had everything, he went to the best school, and he never really thought about life or took the time to reflect on it.
He would go out with friends and come back whenever he wanted, and his parents didn’t even mind.
They gave him the best life a parent could give a child.
But then, one day while he was at school, he had a bad dream about his parents.
When he told them about it, they laughed it off, saying it was just child’s play and not serious.
However, when school ended, his parents didn’t come together to pick him up as usual.
Instead, he saw one of his aunts coming to get him.
When he asked where his parents were, she told him that they had both been in an accident on their way to visit her before picking him up from school.
That’s when he lost the life he had been living.
His father’s family took everything and conspired to throw him out of the house and onto the street.
He used to have clothes that he would give to friends, but now he’s wearing clothes that are in bad shape.
His jeans have holes in them and the color of his top has faded.
It broke my heart to hear his story.
His situation is even worse than mine.
The place he’s staying in is so rough that someone might even mistake him for a mād person.
Initially I used to think that only mād people stayed under the bridge.
He looks so tāttered. At least I have good clothes on.
But we were even, we now belonged to the street.
He felt a bit strong and tried to get up from where he was, saying,
“I need to make sales today if I want to eat, not sitting idle just because I’m sick.”
I held him back, and just then I noticed the girl who brought me had left.
Maybe she told me, but I wasn’t paying attention.
I asked him, “Did you see when the girl left?”
He nodded and said, “She told you she was going, and you said okay.
What’s wrong?” He laughed at me. “I didn’t notice when she left, and I can’t remember when I said okay to her.”
John couldn’t stop laughing.
After laughing for minutes, he said, “Catherine, you could be suffering from memory loss, don’t you think so?”
I was upset and picked up a little stone from the floor to hīt him, but he ran to the other side of the bridge.
“Why would you say such a thing to me?”
I said as I pursuēd him while he ran away.
When I finally caught up with him, he said, “I’m sorry, Catherine.
You take everything to heart. If only he knew what I was going through, he would understand why I was behaving that way.”
I thought to myself. Then I called a stranger passing by and asked, “Uncle, please, what time is it?”
He responded, “It’s 7 o’clock.”
I turned to John and said, “At least you’re feeling better now.
I have to go.” I hurried home so I could reach the house before dad.
Dad and I entered the house at the same time, and when he parked his car, he asked, “How much have you made today?”
I responded, “2000 naira, sir.”
I sold all the water I carried today. I showed him the money.
The question dad asked was, “Why didn’t you come back and carry more water?”
I didn’t response. I didn’t know what to say.
He said, “It’s alright. Tomorrow is another day.
Go and freshen up and eat.
At least you are making progress.'”