All the five children were rich. Their parents were obscenely rich and consequently, them also. They used to live in a posh area and were driven in posh cars. We admired them. We wished, very strongly, to be them.
When they came for the holidays in our poverty-stricken township, they used to be our friends. Then, we could laugh together. Feel proud among our peers for having rich friends.
Slowly then came the time for tears when their parents came to take them. It was not us who shed the tears but them. They wept for they did not want to leave. They really cried bitterly, wishing to still be playing with us.
We, the poor children, just sat watching. We watched them being persuaded. And after some time they would go and ride the car, still weeping.
And then we would wave at them. Wave and wave, even after the car had gone out of sight, until our hands ached. Then, we would forget them and resume our games.
The rich children admired us than we admired them. That is why they cried bitterly when parting. I never knew it then but now I know it that they admired our poverty. Its glamor.
They admired the toys made from dirty wet clay. They saw beauty in that. They never knew that to us, that was not beauty. It was poverty. If our parents had the money, we could have had real plastic toys, not the clay ones.
A young boy being driven in a Mercedes Benz passing through the poor townships admires his age mates playing in the streets. He admires them as they play a ball made from dirty plastic papers on the dusty stony roads – not grounds.
He does not know that it is a wish to play like the rich children do that attracts them into the dusty streets. Neither does he know that the children wish they had real balls and not counterfeits made from plastic papers.
The young boy envies them when he sees them eating maize stalks as sugarcane. He does not know that it is a desire for the real sugarcane that makes them act so.
During the rainy season, when he sees them bathing in the rain, he thinks that they are having fun. Little does he know that it is a thirst for a shower that he has every day.
As the car travels, bringing into his view the various lifestyles led by the poor children, his adoration and admiration grows. Adoration and admiration for poverty. He wishes he was the one buried in the glamor of poverty.
There is a teenage boy from a rich family. Everything for him is done by money. He goes in a shop to buy a shirt; he buys a big one at an exaggerated cost. It fits him not as a shirt but a dress. It is not his size.
He saw a poor boy one day. He was dressed in a big shirt also. It was not out of wish; he was just given by his fat boss when he had no shirt. That was instead of his monthly payment. If the poor boy had money, just a little, he could have bought something of his size. But poverty, cruel poverty. The rich boy, however, admired that.
He complements that big shirt with an expensive jean trouser. He buys it in its good condition. But he deliberately disfigures it. He tatters it in the area around the knees. He saw a poor boy one day who was in rags.
The boy starts going around the city with an oversized shirt and a deliberately tattered trouser without a belt that is almost falling. He admires the poverty of clutching rags.
And there is a girl, very gorgeous. She always dresses in a small blouse, not very different from a camisole. Her skirt also is very small. The clothes are fit not for her but her very youngest sister. Looking at her from a far, one might erroneously think she is poor. Meeting her closely, you discover that she is not. She is awesomely rich, her perfume tells.
She desires to be poor. She thinks that the poor girl she saw that day in clothes of her younger sister that exposed her flesh sinfully did that deliberately. She knows not that it was poverty.
Sometimes, the rich beautiful young lady stands in the streets at night whilst in the same clothes or tearing off some. She stands in the streets at night as poor girls who sell their bodies do.
People wonder when they see her parading in the streets in the darkest hours of the night. They wonder on what she is looking for. Surely, she is not looking for money for her parents have it like sand. She also is not looking for love for nowhere in the world has love ever been found in streets.
She is looking for nothing, not even pleasure. All she is satisfying is a yearning to be basking in poverty.
And there exists a man. A responsible and educated man who is also married. He is a church elder with a sincere family.
He goes out with a poor girl. The age of his daughter. He claims he loves her. In the course of his love, he impregnates her. Unashamed, he rents her a very small house. A very dirty house with walls that are very much prepared to fall than they are to stand, and a leaking roof.
He starts spending most of his nights there after lying to his trusting wife that he has gone to some workshop.
Neither is he a man who loves not his wife nor is he one who has been fed love potions. He is just a man with a great admiration for poverty.
Then there is a woman. Married to a rich good man. She lacks nothing, not even love. Her husband is hundred percent honest. She just admires poverty.
That explains why she goes out, of all people, with a houseboy. She cheats her rare honest husband. She takes the houseboy to her matrimonial bedroom before she is caught red-handed by the husband. She is kicked out. Out into the streets, into the abyss of poverty.
She admired the poverty of the woman she saw some day. The poor widow raising her seven children alone. She still weeps for her husband who left her with a burden to bear alone in a poor community. She wishes her husband was alive or had left her with riches, not poverty. The rich woman, however, mistook it for freedom.
The people are many and the examples uncountable of those who are rich but admire poverty. They view not poverty as hard, cruel, mean, brutal, degrading, harsh, barbaric and just fatal. They view poverty as a lifestyle, a glamorous one. That is why they forsake all their riches and imitate poverty or create it for themselves and families.
It sounds strange that many years after independence we should still be having a large population of poor people.
The rich know that they cannot live in a world without glamor and their glamor comes from poverty. That is why they will never assist the poor to rise. That is why they will be going in the streets to search for AIDS so that they die early and leave young children as orphans, increasing the number of poor people. Creating poverty, their glamor.