In the wake of dawn Something evoked a dimple on my face just when I thought I lacked one. The simplicity of two teenage Hausa girls in the Southern part of Nigeria, adjusting their exquisitely tide wrappers and head gear, frequently picking up the shawls from falling off their nearly shrunk teenage shoulders. Their birth names I detectively uncovered to be Fatima and Fauziya. Their chatter is a tad bit noisy but the cocky smile on their faces is pure innocence when one of them says to the photographer who they had walked under the heavy downpour to meet, ” Uncle, we wan take picture, how much? and when the man replies “na 250 naira for one copy” they faintly reply “We get only two hundred’ abeg help us”, instantly the photographer replies with a firm NO!. In a split second, it all goes from smiles to a dejected look when the photographer insists they complete the money or leave. Her face has fallen already, Her friend, Fauziya ‘the slightly chubby one’ begins to edge away with her whispering softly. Even though she seems to be the one who can handle this rejection calmly, she also swiftly turns when she sees two strangers beckon on them to come from across where they stand, Its a beautiful woman in black and a very tall and handsome man by her side. its the man who tells them to come, He puts two and two together and tries to communicate in Hausa (judging quickly from the fact that the Muslim holiday was two days ago and they should be Muslims still in celebration mood). Fauziya responds to him because Fatima didn’t quite understand the hausa language.
“what do they want from us now?”, they wonder emphatically. They don’t even notice the duo till now, but they go to them in child-like innocence when he says “Zo” (which translates to “come” in hausa language), Something many adults won’t do. He and the pretty woman want to know why they are not taking the picture. They tell him the situation and he says to the photographer,” Take them the pictures and don’t collect money from them” we’ll pay.
Their smiles miraculously return as they take poses with feverish excitement. Let’s not forget, they said ” thank you Sir, thank you Ma”. The beautiful woman and her good looking companion now have a savior/superhero status in the hearts of Fatima and Fauziya- wonder woman and Superman.
Phew!! I had a good time recounting that event. I feel so alive. Do I have a significant reason for this? Of course, I will tell you(that’s why this is a blog remember).
In the nooks and cranny of a traffic jammed point in Benin city, Nigeria, you’ll always find Fatima and Fauziya with some petty goods for sale, trying to make ends meet. Where are their parents you may ask? They are hustling as well. Are you familiar with that word? It stands as a symbol of “hard work”. It may not always bring any immediate financial gain, but note the seriousness of effort expressed.
Do they have standard working hours? Yes, from sun up to sun down, They wipe away necklaces and bangles of perspiration all through the day. It is the peak of the rainy season in Nigeria, Most times, even the rain coming down with such an intensity that results in unprecedented” rain checks ” to meetings but cannot drive these young girls from their work stands because rain or not stomach needs food.
When I look at these girls, I see pure determination, I see a will to survive but Most importantly, I see a peace they exude so easily. I know an amazing person who prides himself as one who “brings peace and tranquillity into people’s lives”, He makes me smile, Fatima and Fauziya make me smile, Each time I have a dimple as proof because their peace is contagious.
sometimes we get so carried away by our problems and shortcomings that we forget to take a time out and appreciate what we have, we concentrate so much on our sorrows and fail to notice that one thing we have that alot of people have lost “LIFE” the ability to breathe which in itself means hope. the reason why the story of Fatima and Fauziya is such an exampilary one isn’t because we paid their bills or they’re petty traders “No”! it’s because every hour of everyday (Sundays included) these girls hawk petty things just to ensure they feed for the day, but still made out time to celebrate the Salah holiday and cough out 200 naira from an empty purse to ensure they captured that one perfect moment in their lives just so they’ll be able to remember that once’ even if just for one second’ they had fun and forgot their worries. I wish I could paint the image of the influx joy and gratitude that flooded their faces when we told them to keep their money and we’ll pay for the amount of pictures they snapped. whooshhh their happiness made me happy, made me appreciate my imperfect life a little more.
So hey, Let’s not take for granted our blessings each day and miss the peace they bring. What is peace? The definition that appeals to me more is ” the absence of mental stress and anxiety “.
My pen has an undaunted mission today to you highly esteemed reader, Worrying won’t solve your problems, You’ll just gather so many forehead lines which anti-aging creams won’t be able to wipe off. These little children and my friend do not have the whole world, but they have peace, which is the most attractive thing about them.
Peace of mind is you taking a deep breath (might come after the tears), and deciding to not make a memory of the one wrong thing in your life. It may be a lost job, lost relative, failed relationship, unemployment, betrayal, uncooperative colleagues,barrenness or failed examinations. You do not need all these to be alive you know. According to Someone, all you need is your nostrils and oxygen breathing into them, that in itself breathes hope.
Now, I am not saying you should turn a blind eye. Neither am I saying to be all, ” Que Sera,Sera “(the French translation for ” what will be,will be”). You have a responsibility in this. It is so tempting to say the wrong things in a bad situation, but please can you say only good and positive things?
The simple way with which Fauziya steered her friend Fatima away with a tiny shred of hope that they would remember this celebration anyway. The simple way that she responded when those strangers offered to pay for their pictures.
Think on this.
count your blessings while you can. Exude peace of mind, you’ll age slowly and gracefully i assure you.
problems and shortcomings? Take my advice and skip that memory. Change is constant.
I am super glad I got to share this story with You, The fact that you are reading this is the high point of my day and I am certainly not skipping this memory.
Till another day comes, till another adventure beckons,
I bid you farewell💕☺