Through the window
Go to the window. Look out for a full minute. Write down what you saw.
I looked through the window and saw a man stand by the kiosk of Audu, my gateman. I could hear him ask him if he had sugar. Audu said ‘No, but I get groundnut’ The man said, ‘I said sugar, you said groundnut. How does it rhyme?’ Audu probably did not understand and even if he did, he did not act as though he did when he said, ‘Make I bring the groundnut?’ The man grumbled and said ‘Na sugar I want. I dey always come this side everyday. Always! You never get sugar. Always! You no even think say make you buy small sugar for here. You no no say nobody dey sell sugar for this street at all?’ Audu simply sat down on his bench and turned up the volume of his radio. The man walked away. But Audu did not see that that was a business opportunity.
I turned my head to the construction workers catcalling the orange seller. She smiled at them as she whined her waist effortlessly. The men screamed louder and stamped their dirty feet on the ground. Then one of them called her to come over. He wanted to buy oranges, he said. She walked over to them and as she tried to drop the tray of oranges from her head, the man who called her walked behind her and started caressing her. She jumped forward and all her oranges fell off her tray. Then as she bent down to pick them all up, the man walked over her bent back and continued to harass her while receiving energetic cheers from his mates. She continued picking the oranges, clearly distraught. Then I saw her pick up her knife which had also dropped on the floor, and drop it in the tray. She did not see it, but right there was an opportunity to defend herself.
I looked again and saw a young boy, with sagged trousers and a sleeveless jeans shirt. He was wearing a fake pair of Nike slippers and was pretty tall. He had red earplugs in his ears and was bumping his head to some music which I obviously couldn’t hear. He finished drinking from the bottle of Fanta in his hand, threw it on the ground and continued walking. About 10 seconds later, two little boys ran through the street playing around and then kicked the bottle of Fanta right in front of this young man. He simply stepped over it and kept walking. But right there was an opportunity to correct his wrong.
Then I watched as a little girl of about 5 years old tried to cross the narrow street. She stood at the other side of the street wearing faded native skirt and blouse and holding a black polythene bag. She was so scared of crossing that even when the road was free, she stood and just stared at the road. But then, the mechanic at the other side noticed and so he walked over to the girl and pulled her to the other side while talking a little harsh to her. She crossed the road anyway. But she missed the opportunity to face her fears.
Finally, I looked and saw an old man sitting in front of his house in his oldman chair. His wife, an old woman, walked out of the house dressed in cheap lace with a white scarf wrapped around her neck. She informed him that ‘I am coming’. He nodded and then looked up from the news article he was reading. In his eyes, you could tell that he admired her and that he thought she looked good. But he said nothing. He simply looked back at the newspaper in his hand. As she stepped away from him a little bit, he cleared his throat and said, ‘Be back early o.’ She said, ‘I have heard’. He made to say something else but he stopped mid-sentence. ‘Nah… we’re too old for that’, he must have thought. But there, brethren, was an opportunity for him to tell her that he loved her… even in her new age.
Then I looked away from my window and it dawned on me, that I had just looked through a window of opportunities.
But far more than that, I also realised that a window is two-way. And it made me question myself; what opportunities do I have presently? What opportunities can I offer people at the other side of the window?