I drove under the white, inverted fan of Ikoyi Bridge, and saw a kitten. It lingered halfway down the road, just as stuck as the rest of us. It was striped in a non-descript brown and grey, like thousands of others just like it scattered across the city. It was smallish of stature as if it balanced somewhere awkwardly between infancy and adolescence, its fur at once matted and spiked as if it carried the world between the strands.
It was pathetic, yes; weak and alone. But what touched my heart was watching it struggle on the roadside as cars sped and more often crawled past it, bathing it in seas of fumes from exhaust pipes like cigars. Sometimes they didn’t even notice the wretched creature, collapsed on the roadside next to a dusty grate. But worse still, most times the nonchalant passersby simply did not care. Instead, they chatted to their passengers, cursed fellow bad drivers and danced from the waist up to afrobeats. Oblivious.
The poor thing could not balance, frantically working to get its feet beneath it but failing time and time again. It would plant two wobbly paws on the well-kept tarmac and flex its muscles only for its centre of gravity to shift, its body flopping back to the ground with all the dignity of a discarded plastic bag.
My heart thumped in sympathy with the thudding of that small body against the ground. So moved was I, I felt called to action. I wanted to rescue it and look after it, nurse it back to health at my bosom or something equally Victorian and romanticised. But then practicality kicked in. I’m not allowed animals where I’m staying. I don’t know how to heal an animal. It could have lice or rabies and then where would we be? There’s no RSPC to hand it over to once healed, am I going to keep it forever?
Then I looked away, as everyone else did and continued on my way.