Sunday afternoon, at Jinja Road traffic lights; a young girl, seemingly in her late teenage years, approached me with a basket of bananas on her head.
“Bogoya, bogoya, please support me and buy my bogoya.” She pleaded.
First off, I didn’t feel like eating bananas, but even if I was to consider buying for later consumption, I wouldn’t buy her’s because they looked scorched and weary.
“Sorry but I am allergic to bananas.” I attempted to tell her off politely.
“Okay even if you’re not going to buy please support my education.” She started. She then went on to rap a story of how she is an orphan trying to raise school fees. She even went as far as telling me the school she goes to (which I don’t remember) where she pays 160,000. “Please support my education, please, please.” She was quick in her explanations, seemingly conscious to the fact that the moment those lights lit green, I would be no prisoner of hers no more.
I am no stranger to this generation of beggars. They like to hang around supermarkets entrances and fuel stations. Normally, they are kids who disguise as maize, avocado or other foodstuffs vendors. They ambush you with a pitiful face and plead for you to relieve them of their almost always worst of quality foodstuffs. What makes me truly seethe though is how their unsuccessful pleas are always followed with monetary demands.
“Kale ngulilayo sapatu.” One of them asked me once to buy him footwear, flaunting his bare foot. This is exactly what I have a problem with, if you’re begging then let me decide how much to give you, don’t attempt to cunningly set for me an amount like the other category of beggars who pretend to be stranded in town and ask for 1,000sh to transport them to Kyambogo, or wherever they claim to be going.
The moment this school girl started asking me for school fees is the instant I should have slid up the window and looked in the opposite direction. But for her persuasive efforts, I looked for some loose money and chanced upon a five hundred shilling coin. I didn’t have change, but I doubt I would have given her more than 1000 anyway.
I picked the coin and handed it to the girl. But to my surprise, the girl stared back at me in shock. Not the OMG-thank-you kind, but the you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me kind of shock. I could swear that little bitch even rolled her eyes before she walked away without saying a word . Leaving my hand stretched out of the window with my 500sh coin.
Someone help me rationalise this; I know 500sh is little money that can’t even buy a bottle of water. But when did beggars get so much discretion? What if I was to support her by buying one finger of bogoya in the first place, how much was she planning to sell it to me?