”Tiff! Tiff! He don tiff my purse o! Tiff! Epp me!” A pregnant woman screamed and waddled after the thief; a small boy whose speed is best compared to a flash of lightning.
In the twinkle of an eye, buyers and sellers alike abandoned their business in the market and closed in on the boy like walls. Baba Eleran, a well-known butcher in the market caught the boy by his arm, and before he could protect him from the angry market mob, they stormed his stall in their blazing fury and dragged the boy out into their midst. Blows landed on him from all directions and shouts of”Thief! Thief!” rented the air.
”Why not call the robbed woman forward to identify this boy before you people beat him to death?” Someone suggested.
”Yes, yes.” They agreed.
The pregnant woman wobbled through the crowd and swayed as though she were being pushed left and right by an unseen force. She finally entered the circle made for the young boy and eyed him bitterly.
”Na im tiff my purse o. Make una epp me collect am. My phone and all my money dey dia.” The pregnant woman who is nicknamed iya ibeji ranted.
Once again, the mob charged for the little boy with sticks and other objects. Taju, a bus driver who is known for violence, threatened to burn the boy up with the tyre and petrol in his hands.
In a little voice, the boy pleaded his innocence. A gaunt looking man slapped him and tore his ragged clothes in a bid to search for the purse in case he had hidden it in his clothes. He gave iya ibeji a doubtful look and asked her if the boy was really the thief for he looked innocent and pitiful; she nodded in the affirmative. The man searched and even tore the clothes into shreds, yet, there was no purse. He squatted before the almost lifeless boy and asked him again if he was the one that truly stole the purse.
”No-o be be me ti-tiff de purse. I no be tiff o. If I no see food chop, I dey beg. I no dey tiff.” The boy stammered out his innocence in a faint voice as blood trickled out of the corner of his mouth.
”Why you kon dey run when you know say you no tiff.”
”Na because I hear say dem dey shout tiff tiff.”
A man who seemed educated came to the boy’s rescue.
”It seems this boy does not have the purse after all.” He faced iya ibeji.
”How did you know that he’s the culprit?’
”Oga, I sabi wetin I dey talk o. As im drag de purse comot for my hand laidis, na so im pick race.” Iya ibeji answered.
”Woman, let’s not drag this matter. If he started running immediately he snatched the purse from you, it should still be with him. But, there’s nothing on him. I beg of you, he faced the crowd pleading, let’s refrain from jungle justice. I don’t think he is the thief. I’ll give iya ibeji some money.”
Even with this, the mob were not willing to disperse and let the boy go. Suddenly, clouds gathered from nowhere and wind started to blow. One by one, they raced back to their stalls to protect their wares from the rain and seek shelter, and soon they all forgot about the boy.
Shortly after, rain started to fall heavily, beating everything on mother Earth, including the poor boy who was still laying down helplessly. When no one was looking, another boy who seems to be a little older than the mobbed boy crept out of his hiding place where he had been watching everything that happened. With the stolen purse safely tucked away in his old weather beaten coat, he crawled towards the boy and bent over him.
”I don tell you say if I tiff de purse, make you comot de woman attention from my side no be say make you run. See as dem do you now. I go pardon you because na your fess time.” he whispered.
The beaten boy nodded weakly, said a short a prayer to the god of mob and the homeless street children, he then took what seemed like his last breath.