Be Careful, Mr. Barefooted!

When I was little I was notorious for walking barefooted. This habit was developed not because I wasn't well looked after; in fact, it was quite the opposite. I stumbled upon this habit due to my fascination for football.

In my suburb, football is played by everyone, both the little ones and the grown ups. Even the aged ones spend their free time watching kids below the age of 10 collectively chasing after that enchanting round leather object that has brought joy to millions of homes across the world. Football is pure joy, the feeling one gets after sweating it out on a muddy pitch is indescribable.

So, what's the correlation between football and walking barefooted?

Unlike now where you see under-7 kids playing football with a designated boot, when I was that age my soccer boot was whatever I was wearing, either a trainer, sneakers, boots, flip-flops or slippers. Due to this attitude of kicking the ball with whatever I have on I became somewhat reckless with my shoes.

A week barely goes by without my mom having to take my shoes to the shoemaker for repairs. My school sandals barely last a term or trimester before they become condemned. My slippers? It always takes me a whole two weeks to keep it in one piece. Anything after that, the poor object becomes a regular visitor to the shoemaker's shop till it becomes utterly useless. In short, I became a problem.

Now, you know how parents act over here. Once a child becomes obstinate, punishments become the correctional means. So, I started getting punished for my lousy attitude. When the punishment started hitting home, I had to find a lasting solution that allowed me to enjoy my football in peace without destroying my shoes. That was when my journey to the barefooted world began.

Whenever we are to go for break period in school, I'd take off my shoes, keep it in my bag and head on to the field for some football. Whenever I got back home, my slippers started taking position beside whatever object we used to make the post instead of being worn to kick the ball around. Even on some occasions the slippers were used to make the goalpost.

So, I switched from one reckless attitude of cutting my shoes to another one of walking barefooted. At first, I only went barefooted just to play football but later it became a regular occurrence. I could walk the whole street barefooted and I was enjoying it - until my aunt noticed my new habit. She called me to order, but I have fallen so in love with life without shoes that all her threats fell on deaf ears. I simply did not care anymore.

The day nemesis caught up on me was just like yesterday. My aunt had always threatened that one day she would flog my leg if I failed to desist from walking barefooted. Whenever she said that I'd laugh hysterically while indirectly mocking her in the process. Of course, my mom was always there to protect me from getting a serious beat down from my beloved aunty.

When the day finally came, it was unexpected. I had returned from one of my aimless, barefooted walking escapades when my aunt suddenly rugby-tackled me to the ground, stuck out my feet and landed some serious strokes of the cane on my tender feet. My mom wasn't at home so she had enough time to flog the nuisance out of me. It was painful and unexpected, but it worked a treat. Once again, I had to shift my attitude.

So, I'd go to the field with my slippers, play football barefooted and wear the slippers immediately after football. The new attitude stuck and in no time I became an advocate for wearing shoes, preaching to my friends about the possible dangers of not wearing one.

During my belligerent, barefooted days my right foot once caught a nail as I was running to the class after sweating it out on a football field. If you ever stepped on a nail before you'll understand how painful it can be, especially after hiding it from getting treated and waking up the next day with a swollen, pulse exuding foot.

Nowadays I see people walk in their homes barefooted and I do feel compelled to warn them of the possible repercussions. As careful as I was with wearing shoes, a moment of carelessness nearly cost me my life. About five years ago I travelled to Abuja for "A Night With Jesus." Due to the long journey, immediately we got to the Christian Centre, I dashed to the bathroom to take a bath. I entered the tiled bathroom without wearing a shoe because I didn't want to wet my sneakers. As I was bathing joyously, I slipped and fell. As I struggled to stand immediately, I fell heavily again.

Luckily for me, I didn't hit my head on the floor, but it was centimetres close. I have spent two-third of my life wearing shoes everywhere I go and a moment of carelessness nearly cost me my life. One thing about accidents like this is one always believes it can not happen until it happens, and it may be too late to remedy. That day, I learnt my lesson never to underestimate a safety precaution again.

This is especially important for those living in houses with tiled floors. The day my son defiled my orders and walked into the bathroom without wearing his slippers, he slipped. We were only saved from a major catastrophe because broken tiles were used for the bathroom which stopped him from falling heavily.

I hope we can all take this safety precaution seriously. The result of negligence can be devastating. I believe we've heard of people who died after slipping in the bathroom.

NB: If your bathroom slippers are worn out and lacking in grip or friction, change it. You may be spending a very little amount to save yourself.

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