We were waiting under the eaves of a building, seeking shelter from the rain. We were about six, huddled in a bid to avoid the cold showers. From where we stood, we saw a young boy of about 10 years old in that cold Jos rain pushing a wheelbarrow containing a sack of potatoes (or something equally heavy) that was easily double his weight.
He trudged along with his arduous task, his only protection from the deluge being his threadbare clothing. I doubt he had footwear. I thought of how he may not have had a meal that day and watched him squinting as the rain threatened to blind him.
Where were his parents, I wondered. The wheelbarrow caught on a stone and its contents toppled over, dangling; precariously clinging to his barrow by a few of the bands he used to secure the sack. We watched, unspeaking, as he struggled valiantly to steady the wheelbarrow and hoist his burden back onto it. The ropes impeded his progress and the rain entered his eyes. He refused to give up and persisted in his seemingly hopeless task. I got tired just looking at him. We all huddled in our paltry shelter, pitying him but none stepped forward.
But then, she did; a well-dressed young lady of slight build. She had her hijab on and a satchel on her dainty shoulders and looked like an undergraduate. She approached him without a word and silently, they untangled the ropes painstakingly. Once the sack was free, they hauled it back onto his cart and re-secured it. By now, the rain had fizzled to a drizzle but we still watched, perhaps ashamed, perhaps relieved. After the task was completed, he thanked her and she went on her way.
I wondered what we would have said to her if she had returned to the eaves where we crowded.