My visible other half wrote this article and it was posted on thenakedconvos.com. Just kidding. Hi, I’m Obianuju and will be invading HRH7’s space to satisfy my/ our loyal readers. Enjoy this post! And leave me (her) a comment or 30 ;).
I still remember him. White jalabiya swinging, white cap placed pertly upon his head, hefty book carried in the crook of his arm, hateful words spewing as he pointed to everyone in a running stream of vitriol.
I remember him; a potential stressor at a time when I clearly avoided those, the mad woman who had grabbed my forehead was still fresh in my memory.
I remember walking closer to the railing in Ikorodu Road after coming back from my internship, the glow of pride that I did not sleep in the office today lifting my spirit.
I remember being jostled and a teeming crowd which seemed to appear from nowhere blocking my exit route. I remember having to pass directly by this extremely dissatisfied human specimen, in turns proselytizing and criticizing. Little did I know, I was his next victim.
He looked me up and down, giving passersby a two second saving grace before he assaulted their ears again. His eyes sharpened on my black official trousers. My favourite ones. And then he pointed, raining saliva down my face and started a barely understandable diatribe about how women should not be allowed to wear trousers while I looked for the quickest mode of escape before he touched any part of me at all and ignited my own rage.
I remember this and so much more when I think about my life. A friend once told me, “the weirdest things always happen to you”.
The point of this tale really is not to give that man any wider a stage than Ikorodu Road. It’s not even to restate my belief on minding your bloody business. No. It’s about two issues a lot more controversial-
1) Why do people believe it’s alright to impose their beliefs on you?
2) Why do people who want to win you over to their way of thinking think humiliation is the best method?
I understand now that the man was a fundamentalist Muslim and extremely devout, I’m not going to refer to him specifically; my aunt’s referral of him as an idiot did a lot to restore my self confidence. But, standing on the bridge blocking passersby and screeching insults at men who didn’t grow beards or women who drank or 17 year old girls who wore trousers was an opinion. And while I champion the right of all human beings to their opinions, the germy saliva he sprayed on my face made it an improper way to express such opinions to me. If he had touched me and I’d gotten the chance to practice my self defense “skills”, I have no doubt that a fight would have ensued and of course being a Nigerian female, overwhelming public opinion would have been against me. Afterall, we women are to respect our place and appreciate whatever spotlight is put upon us, even when it’s by a smelly man in a white jalabiya screaming garbage.
I have a love- hate relationship with Twitter. It’s an application for people to deliver their opinions in real time and to a wider audience than they would have been able to accumulate in real life, mostly. Some points are witty, I’ll grant but mostly it’s just better packaged garbage than the man on Ikorodu Road was selling. In the past week alone, I’ve read in turn people praising as well as deriding President Buhari for shaking a woman’s hand, distinct opinions expressed by a single man as when the women he will marry needs to get up from bed, certain repressed tribalistic beliefs couched as witty insults being exchanged and criticism and praise being for Caitlyn (formerly Bruce Jenner) and so much more.
Very often, I find that engaging people in widely publicised debates about their opinions is humiliating and tends to make the person stick all the more to their guns so I generally don’t bother. But I do ask this question in all honesty- Is there no better way to get your opinions across? For instance, being called and quietly advised about my dressing one Sunday did so much more to change my dressing habits (I now set out my camisoles on Saturday evening) than any public display could have done. I found that taking my friends aside to correct them, gently voiced does so much to win them over than the screams they might have publicly expected.
I still wear trousers, all the time where I can help it. But I have never gone to church in a dress with a plunging neckline without a camisole or gone on stage at a conference wearing any dress more than 3 inches above my knee, without wearing tights or leggings.
I’m not entirely sure this article will make a difference in changing people’s perceptions of how they treat and address others but I’m exceptionally glad that no mad women have touched my head recently, I don’t sleep at the office anymore and no pungent individuals have caused me to bathe thrice recently. And with your help, that streak can continue running.
I’ll leave you with this paraphrased saying:
You’ll attract more bees with flowers than garbage.