Written by Elysian Huyz
I saw the life of another man flash before my eyes and I didn’t even blink
I see it every day but I just turn away
Cos what can I do?
What difference can I make?
That’s my excuse,
I know pain!
I see it every day
On my way to work
Lying breathless on the broken side walk,
Hawking needles in a war thorn zone,
Picking pockets and stealing phones.
What else can I do but claim not to know?
Well, thats my excuse,
How much is a sachet of water worth?
How do you take a walk
In a stony desert and not get hurt?
I should know how much a tainted soul costs cos I have one
I know others
With broken thoughts, sold souls.
Thieves and looters with glass homes.
Am not much fortunate myself
But at least I have a home and I eat three times a day
I have internet on my phone and fake people on my Facebook wall.
All I have to worry about is my internet speed,
The cost of data and if there’ll be power.
I have water to drink and drinks to spill
My greatest challenge is how to avoid direct eye contact with those at the motor park.
How to escape those kids that try to hold my hand.
I don’t have enough money to take care of me how much more them.
They’re the government’s problem.
Well, that’s my excuse,
I know pain
I feel it in the eyes of the children that struggle to hold my hand under the scorching sun in a crowded bus station as they beg for just another meal.
I pretend like its normal
Cos they’re smiling
Of course we’re the world’s happiest people
Maybe that’s something to brag about
But what can ten naira buy?
How many can a dollar feed?
Maybe it can save a tainted soul
Let’s all look for someone else to blame
Well, that’s our excuse
How are you?
When last did you have a bath?
You might end up getting pregnant like your fifteen year old mother.
Why are you not in school?
Its 10am and you have cold water dripping on your shoulder
How did you get the lines on your forehead?
Your palms are too rough for a thirteen year old.
How often do you cry?
Don’t answer cos no one asked
No one cared.
Let’s all pretend
Let’s pretend we’re blind
And there’s no need to be kind.
Well, thats my excuse,
Forgive my ignorance,
I do not know pain.
I have not been raped in broad day light
I haven’t slept in the shadows of a full moon’ sight
I haven’t had the pleasure of a cold floor’s delight
I haven’t starved
I haven’t been on my knees before
I haven’t begged, I barely know how to say please
I haven’t watched my daughter die
So when I say I know pain…
Well, what’s my excuse?
Someday when am rich enough
When am bold enough
When am strong enough
When am smart enough
When am kind enough
I’d be the one standing in the front line with a cross on my chest.
I’d help take away some suffering from this world.
Well, that’s my excuse.
Photography: UNICEF Niger