I feel a pang of pity when they look in my direction in traffic. The hungry eyes, the beads of sweat running down their faces as they hawk their goods under the burning heat of the sun, unashamed.
The hawker looks at you with expectations of your patronage; you look the other way to avoid his constant glances. He peers through the window of your vehicle,
He calls out, advertising his wares, flashing them in your face, hailing you, begging and pleading, whistling…
He won’t stop. You feel disturbed and you let out a long sigh of irritation. Apparently, you don’t need the stuff he has to sell.
“Won’t you go away? I don’t want gala!”, you snarl, with disgust written on your face.
The hawker is undeterred. He has seen a lot of your type! He has developed a thick skin already.
Yet, he still nurses a faint hope that you just might change your mind and beckon on him.
“Gala!” You eventually scream. He sprints faster than Usain Bolt, with hopes of getting to you before other competitors.He is is filled with gratitude while making sales.
The hawker – a nobody! Every day, his fellow Nigerians treat him with so much condescension. Like when a customer on a public bus collects his wares through the vehicle window and takes forever to rummage through her hand bag for money.
When traffic clears and the vehicle speeds off; she makes him chase hard. Then, she either flings the money at him or throws his wares in the air back at him without a care, because he couldn’t catch up.
The hawker is tagged a traffic offender. A nuisance. An eyesore in our society. As such, there are proposed laws to kick hawkers off our streets, in order to portray a very decent society.
But just like you, the hawker wants to earn a living because there are no viable alternatives.
And, as you read this, you just might reflect and remember times when a hawker had been a life-saver on several occasions. Remember how relieved you felt when that chilled La Casera drink was handed to you, while you were crammed in that vehicle in traffic?
Let’s not look down on these individuals for making an honest living. Many of us owe a great deal of comfort and convenience to them. If you have any stories about timely traffic purchases in the right place at the right time, let’s hear them in the comments.
Photo Credit: INFORMATIONNG