The Tales of the struggling girl child

  • They have taken over our streets.
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  • At the community wherein I’m observing my mandatory youth service.
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  • These young girls.
  • Pretty little lovelies.
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  • Hawking all manner of things.
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  • Groundnuts, African Salad, buns, kpogi, tomatoes, pepper.
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  • The list goes on.
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  • Yesterday when the rain stalled for a moment.
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  • I rushed out to go visit my friend, who had been ill for a while.
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  • On my way back after visiting him.
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  • One of the girls was standing under the tree that is close to the gate of the estate where my friend lives.
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  • Wet clothes clinging to her tiny body.
  • The rain had fallen heavily.
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  • Definitely not more 14 years.
  •  
  • From her looks.
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  • Her arms were around her upper body.
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  • Seeking warmth.
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  • As she stood trembling.
  • The cold had taken its toll on her.
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  • Teeth chattering.
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  • Her basket containing her fishes, tomatoes and peppers on the ground in front of her.
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  • “Uncle help me buy market.”
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  • “I don already buy, e plenty for house.”
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  • “Oga mi, abeg,my mama go beat me if I go back house with full basket.”
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  • “Since today, I never sell anything”
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  • “She no see say rain dey fall?”
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  • “Dat one no be my mama concern, e go say my mates wen sell market no get two head.”
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  • “Okay, no wahala, i go buy some.”
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  • “Ahhh. God go bless you.”
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  • So I paid generously for 10 tomatoes and peppers.
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  • And she glowed with appreciation as she collected the money.
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  • As I made to leave.
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  • She spoke again.
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  • Her voice lower.
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  • And very unsure.
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  • “Oga mi, If na only you dey house sir, I fit follow you.”
  •  
  • I looked back at her.
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  • “Follow me go do wetin?.”
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  • “Ejoo oga mi Make you no vex, E mabinu sir”
  •  
  • And she kept quiet.
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  • There was fear in her eyes.
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  • I walked closer to her.
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  • She stepped back a little.
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  • “Tell me wetin you be wan talk.”
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  • “Nothing sir. Taink you for the money. God go bless you. Ese gan”
  •  
  • I smiled.
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  • As warmly as I could.
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  • I understood what she had implied earlier on.
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  • But for the purpose of clarity.
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  • I prodded once more.
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  • “Make you no fear. Tell me wetin you be wan talk before. I no go cast you”
  •  
  • She looked at me for a moment.
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  • Then bowed her head as though in remorse.
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  • Silent.
  •  
  • I asked again.
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  • This time comforting in my choice of words
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  • “You no go enter trouble. I swear, I no go tell anybody,  Tell me. I fit help you.”
  •  
  • Still she kept silent.
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  • I spoke again.
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  • This time more confident.
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  • “Oya, I go buy everything wey dey your basket, give you the money, you go still keep the market, I no need am but if you tell me wetin you be wan talk before, I fit help you even pass just buying your market…”
  •  
  • I could feel her hesitation.
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  • She wasn’t sure how I’ll take her next words.
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  • The she sighed.
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  • Just before she said it.
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  • In a low tone.
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  • Looking away from me
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  • Head bowed in self-pity.
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  • “E get some broda dem for hia, dem dey usually buy my market, but I dey keep my basket for one of my sista hand,  I go follow dem, based on say dem dey wan f…k join,  if dem do finish, them go give me one thousand, sometimes two thousand, na d money i dey add ontop of wetin i dey make from selling pepper and tomatoe na him I go give my mama make she add money give me make I use dey dey pay for school.”
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