I once saw a very tall woman standing in front of a car. She was on her cell phone, chatting away. She looked like a young professional.
Her blouse was partially open and her child was standing on the bonnet of the car, leaning against her. His face was pointed to the sky with both hands up cupping her breast as he suckled and fed himself. She kept talking on the phone never acknowledging him as he stand-sucked.
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Another time, there was a woman on the side of the road selling fruits. She was sitting behind her tray arranging the goods on it. Her child lay across her lap and he was breastfeeding.
But he wasn’t looking up at her or seriously sucking. He just had the nipple in the corner of his mouth like a tough guy would tuck a toothpick, freeing his mouth so he could still talk.
The child was focused on something in his hands. He was molding some clay into an intricate shape.
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I went on a road trip to Abuja from Lagos. There was a woman sitting behind me with a fat baby. The baby was rotund, of indeterminate gender, and it had an afro with plump cheeks that sat on the baby’s shoulders.
The trip took about 11 hours and the woman breastfed the baby the entire time, pausing only to switch breasts.
At every traffic jam, street hawkers would crowd around the bus and the woman, baby latched firmly to tit, would buy something to eat. Energy drinks, sugared buns, packs of yoghurt, biscuits, more energy drinks.
With glazed eyes and shaky hands, she would buy something at every stop.
She was travelling with another child who had been sleeping since we set out. He was about four years old.
I slept and I woke up, and I could still hear the sucking sounds behind me. I turned to look at her. But the other child, the little boy, got out of his seat and stood between his suckling mother and my inquisitive gaze and stared back at me.
The boy was cross-eyed and for the rest of the ride, he stood at that spot intersecting my line of sight, one eye fixed on me daring me to look at his mother’s breasts, the other eye doing its own thing, looking at the other passengers or looking out of the window at passing scenery.
By the time we got to Lokoja, the bus hadn’t stopped for a while and the woman started screaming, “MY ENERGY IS LOW! I NEED MY ENERGY!!”
We got to Abuja after the sun set and in the fading light, I caught a glimpse of the woman:
She looked a lot thinner than she did when we left Lagos.
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