COVID-19: TALE OF A BEGGAR

The cold tonight was bitter and bad, nipping with sharp bites at our toes and fingers as we slept in the monotonous alleyway of beggar street. Ever since the little greeny virus came around; the one that made one all wheezy and coughing, we didn't see much of our friends anymore. Yeah, they were told to stay at home because the virus was airborne and spreading, but they should have stopped by sometimes yunno. I remember when poor Tom got infected, and he was all sick and wheezy, when they came around and took the lot of us to some secluded place, where we got good food and bathing water. I sincerely thought that that was the end of all our problems. But after two weeks, they again took the lot of us, and returned us back to the streets. Back at the space, each one of us staring into empty space, waiting for that one kind person, longing for that one good heart, but they never came. Seems they forgot that we existed. Night came with its darkly blanket, the warmth of the day departed. Then I noticed that the holes on my cover cloth seemed bigger tonight, as big as the hunger I took to bed. When the morrow came, we sat again watching in hope, but no one passed by beggar street again. Then old Fredrick let out a good laugh. "George, how about you go walk around and stroll down to rich street. You could sit by the statue there, maybe someone will see you there." "What if they don't notice me? Yunno the virus has drained the lot of em, they can't come out to make money, so they even forget to share." "Well, it ain't better than sitting your old ass around here. The holes in our bellies ain't gonna fill themselves, worse still the worms in there would soon start feeding off us. There's still a chance you get something over there. I would've gone myself, but my legs still aren't able to walk me." Fredrick retorted One early morning, I awoke with a sharp pain in my belly. Immediately I knew what I must do. I called out to Fredrick. "Yo, Fredrick, I'd be going over to rich street today. I can't take the hunger any longer. I'd see if I can get some for you and I." Fredrick gave no response. He must be sleeping I thought. I moved over and gave him a nudge but he didn't budge. I turned his face around and Alas! I saw he was gone. The white of his eyes told me as much. The still of his heart said it all. Straightaway, I moved away and began my stroll from beggar street to rich street. I got there late in the day, I found my way to the statue and spent the night there. In the morning; I put out my alms bowl, my palms extended, my head reclining, and then I began to mourn. Poor Fredrick, poor Tom, poor Robin, poor me. The tears began to roll with each passing of time, with each human that walked by, and as the day grew older. My eyes were gradually dimming as though spent of the tears. They were struggling to stay open, sleep suddenly became sweeter. I fought each wave, fought to stay awake, but I was succumbing with each take. Then I saw an angel, little as child, female as girl, smiling as light, and she touched to my palm. "What's your name sir? Why are you out here? Where is your home?" Her voice was as calm as the waters, as still as the gentle breeze. I wanted to answer her, tell her of all my turmoil's, but my speech failed me. Soon a person appeared. Old as elder, female as woman; with a worry creased brow, she spoke out aloud. "Sarah, why did you leave the house. I've been looking everywhere for you." "I saw this man; he's been here for a while. He looks hungry and tired, let's help him out." "Sarah, let's go away. You shouldn't talk to strangers." "But mum, he needs help, just look at him." "We don't have much, we can't afford giveaways." "Mum, yes we don't have much, but why do we have, if we can't share." Those words warmed my heart, brought life back to my bones, and sparked the dying fire of hope in me. The woman looked at me for a while, pity ran around the corners of her eyes. She asked me in a low tone. "Kind sir, would you like to come in my house for a while. I have some food, water, a change of clothes, and somewhere you can rest your head a while. Again, my speech failed me, so I just offered a smile and a nod of my head in response. The little one did a little dance and hugged her mum. Oh! I have never seen one so happy to do good. Now I'm in a better place. From her house, she took me to someplace where they tended for those who didn't have during this Covid-19 period. I was shocked and touched that the government had put the likes of us in mind. I told them of beggar street and of Ricky and Joe and Amos and the rest. They soon joined me and we were all happy together. The government sent food and water to us from time to time, and even though we slept in tents, it was still better than out in the open. The worst has now passed, and I look towards the future, it looks brighter now. A little kind act did save my life.

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