A Fork In The Road

by Olusola Alli

His toothless smile was wider than the ocean. Soft brown eyes, fringed with curly lashes peered out at the world with the expectancy of a farmer hearing the sound of rain.

Chubby hands reached out to grab mine in a quest for friendship only the truly innocent can initiate. I responded in kind, the stressful work-week forgotten as my own smile broke out.

Tension, hitherto a long-lease resident in my neck and shoulders, fled like a flock of birds on sighting a young boy’s throw. His sweetness was a refreshing chilled fruit juice on a hot humid day.

Yet as his soulful eyes brought a brightness to mine, as his unexpected friendship banned my worries to the far recesses of my mind, I could not help but wonder.

This innocent babe no older than six months, extending love to strangers across the divide of a commercial bus, what will he be like in twenty years?

An entitled youth who blames everyone but himself for his problems?

A chauvinistic Casanova who steals girls’ innocence with impunity?

An up-and-coming writer on his way to getting his first book published?

A professional pick pocket who has mastered the art of sleight of hands?

A soul-winning evangelist preaching the gospel around the world?

He could be any of these or more. The end result will come from choices, little seemingly inconsequential decisions that shape a child into a man, that mould a babe into an adult. A ‘no’ given there, a ‘yes’ said here, a refusal to turn blind eyes to injustice, an indulgence in the nonchalance of the ‘it-is-not-in-my-backyard syndrome’.

I honestly don’t know how he will turn out, but for now, for the smile he gifted to me, he was…

Perfect.

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