Amina stood alone, hungry and dejected beside the dirty and piss-stained dilapidated kiosk that was now reduced to a standing rubble of burnt ruin. The Kiosk was Amina’s only refuge of some sort,the only home she knew.The Kiosk used to be occupied by a kind Old Baba. Old Baba was Amina’s only friend, he would give her sweets and bread whenever she roamed that particular street, chasing after fine young men and women for little change.
Amina used to sit on Old Baba’s laps as he always insisted on feeding her the bread. Amina would wonder why Old Baba wouldn’t let her feed herself, besides she was old enough to feed herself. Her five year old frame didn’t understand what was happening as Old Baba carried her on his laps, fidgeting with her small supple body. At times, Amina would feel a sharp object prodding her small buttocks but she would wriggle and twist her body until she couldn’t feel it anymore. Sometimes Old Baba would shout at her to sit still as the hard object kept prodding and poking her, sometimes old Baba would pinch her chest so hard that she would scream and begin to cry, wondering what she had done to deserve such punishment. No sooner had she opened her mouth to cry that Old Baba would shove a handful of bread into her small mouth to prevent the scream from reaching out.
After a long while of confused fidgeting and unreasonable murmurings from Old Baba, he would push her down like she had done something wrong. Amina would cry and beg to be allowed back into the soothing warmth of Old Baba’s embrace but he would shoo her away the same way one would shoo a hungry goat from a pile of yams. Amina would scamper off to another dirty corner of the street, her worn out and hole ridden dirty knicker, stained by a small glob of yellowish unknown substance. A well trained eye would recognize it to be snot which the little homeless girl had acquired in her wanderings.
One evening, Mama Tutu, a lousy pepper seller had caught Old Baba feeding Amina, she started shouting and screaming, dragging Old Baba out of his kiosk. His thin lanky frame was no match for her bulky heavy build, and in no time, the whole world had gathered at the small kiosk, hurling insults at Old Baba, the angry mob shredded Old Baba’s Jalamia, threw stones and sticks at him and landed heavy blows and slaps at his face from all corners. Everyone was shouting and no one was talking, no one was asking questions. Angry eyes and hands roamed little Amina’s body, looking for signs of evidence to justify their treatment of Old Baba.
Amina was crying, she was scared. Why were they beating her friend? Her only friend. Only Old Baba carried her on his laps and played with her.Only Old Baba kissed her and fed her lovingly. Only Old Baba gave her a change of clothing, the whole world seemed to have forgotten her existence. Since her family had lost her in a large crowd , Amina had resigned herself to roaming the streets until her family finds her but until then… She had joined a group of beggar children who were also homeless and forgotten, just like her. These children were expert in collecting money from fine young men and women, either by begging or stealing. Amina didn’t know how to steal effectively yet, she was always caught and given a good spanking. So whenever she couldn’t beg, she would stand and starve but Old Baba was always there to feed her. He knew whenever she was hungry even without her begging him for food. Now they had taken away her only benefactor. Amina knew Mama Tutu didn’t like her because she scared away Mama Tutu’s customers with her begging and that was why Mama Tutu took Old Baba away. Amina used to sleep in Old Baba’s kiosk whenever he left for home each night.
Now they were beating up Old Baba, her only friend. They were throwing away his wares, his candles, his beads, his kola-nuts and his incense. His kiosk and her home was destroyed by the angry crowd. They burnt the kiosk and disappeared with Old Baba and once again, they forgot Amina, crying dejectedly in a shallow gutter by the dusty street.
by Charis Black.