I have a conclusion: We must stop assuming that we all are sane in this country. Test every spirit!
Today, I boarded a bus from Bariga to Oshodi. I sat between a man and a woman; the man at my left and the woman at my right. The man was reading a copy of today’s Punch Newspaper and as the journey began, he would punctuate the silence in the bus with deep ‘hmms’. This made everyone in the bus subconsciously attentive to him – even though he was saying nothing.
We had not gone too far when he exclaimed, ‘Ay! Women!’ Everyone in the bus was now desperate; casting longing glances at him. Not disappointing us, he continued, ‘People help me o. See this story I’m reading in the paper. This woman wey dey give advice say make women contact her if they wan divorce their husband wey dey beat them’
There was a little discomfort in the atmosphere for a while and it seemed like everyone was waiting for someone to take a side. Then one other man spoke up, ‘Na all those hungry lawyers na.’
‘You dey mind them?‘ Another said, ‘Na so so lie lie them don dey tell women nowadays. Divorce ko. Divide ni’
It was not funny, but some people laughed, albeit nervously
The woman at my right said, ‘Women of nowadays are just foolish. Our ancestors, them divorce? I no dey pray for beating from my husband o, but my husband no dey beat me unless I don do something wey bad pass. And even that one, he for don warn me many times’
‘Thank you o!’ the newspaper man replied pointing all his five fingers at her in a slanting position. ‘All these women wey think se they get plenty mouth just dey talk anyhow nowadays; dey talk say if your husband shout pere at you, go report to police station and -‘
A policeman that had been quiet beside the driver laughed vibrantly and said, ‘No police man I know wey no dey beat him wife. One time, one woman come our station, dey cry say her husband beat am. Guess what our boys do for am?’ Some men already started laughing. He continued, ‘Them tell am say make she take them go her husband. When they reach the house – ‘He couldn’t control his laughter at this point. ‘Them- them- them come ask the husband may hin teach them how to beat a woman so tey she go report to police’
All the men (except one young boy) in the bus burst into laughter.
I was getting down at the next bus-stop so I seized the opportunity and just blurted.’This is just wrong!’ The bus went quiet for a while until someone snickered and said ‘Shuu‘
‘If a man beats your daughter, what would you say about it?’ I continued ‘When you married your wife, did they hand her over to you as your child or as your wife, your partner, the one who you’re to help and who is to help you? Or are you all practicing beastiality? Married to goats who cannot hear word? Your wife is one with you! If you can give yourself a swell in the head the way you are doing to her then go ahead. If you can punch yourself in the stomach and step all over yourself the way you do to her, then please go on. Are you people even mad? How can you be treating the mother of your children that way? Even if she did not bear children for you, let’s go to barest minimum reason why you shouldn’t maltreat her – SHE IS HUMAN!’
My bus arrived at my bus stop and I alighted.
The last thing I heard before the bus drove off was snickering from grown men.
I was angry. But I was happy as well.
I was happy because all the while I stood behind the door and listened, with my 9-year old ears, to the words my grandmother repeated to my father, her son, after he almost gave my mother brain damage; all those words did not go to waste. Thank you grandma.