Hips Don't Lie and Other Stories
Sometimes in conversations, I remember totally unrelated stuff. This particular recollection is from the days of rage.
Sometime in my past, I met this young woman, who was 25 then. She was a virgin, she said, and I asked her how she'd managed that. She wasn't sure herself, through grace or something, she said. but I respected her discipline or whatever had kept her going.
One day, after a long 'friendship' that lasted more than a year, she called me to offer her honour and I ...em ...honoured her offer. That night, we stayed up offering and honouring but I knew she had lied even though she repeatedly pretended pain. (The more sensitive readers should forgive the graphics here. I'm bleeping as much as I can but please read on. There's a lesson to this story)
The next day, she went her way but sent messages to me that made it appear as if I now held a special place in her heart for all time and me thinking of leaving her would amount to first degree murder.
So I sent a message saying, I was really sorry, but I knew there had been someone in occupation before. A kinder man might have kept mute but I hate injustice of all sorts (I think) and I couldn't bear to think that this young woman would go through life thinking
1) She had fooled me
2) I was stupid
3) Life was full of stupid people.
She didn't reply my message or contact me for many months until one morning my phone rang. It was her.
HER: How are you?
ME: I'm ok
HER: Are you sure?
ME: 'cos I'm sure, what's wrong?
HER: Well, I've been dreaming about you. Every Night.
HER: Really bad dreams. Something seriously evil happened to you
ME: What kind?
HER: Don't worry about that. Are you sure you're ok, though?
ME: (Light dawning) Yeah, I'm fine.
HER: (Reluctantly) ok, bye.
An undeveloped mind thinking she could stampede me into fear? a re-union? I never told her that having a relationship with a virgin was a condition for a relationship. It was her idea. Unfortunately, her infrastructure couldn't handle her claims. And that bit about me being the victim in her dreams? What a load of rubbish. Does she know how many people spend their nights baying at the moon because of me? Not that I was bad like that but...
But into the now and the lesson in this recollected story- Never lay claims to being what you're not. We must remember the latin maxim- Nemo dat quod non habet- A man cannot/does not have the right to (or a woman in this case) give what he does not have.
THE OLD WOMAN AND THE BROOM
One night at about 10pm, and as I drove on the outskirts of Lagos with a female passenger, my car passed a man walking fast in the darkness and holding what seemed to be a cutlass. Just in front of him, a few metres down, there was an old woman holding a plastic bag and walking very fast too. It was dark at this point in the road, a turn that had only bushes on either side. I slowed down by the woman, at leat 70 years old, keeping a sharp lookout for the man who had been following. He disappeared into the bush the moment my car rolled to a halt, engine running.
So I called out in vernacular to this elderly woman whom I could now see was half crazed with fear, "Mama, what are you doing on this deserted road?". She was afraid to come near me but soon partly overcame her fear and approached the car. Mama, I asked again, do you know the man that was following you?
And then it came out in a rush. She had been coming from Ibadan, her son's home where she had been holidaying and when she got to the expressway by the airport, she saw there were no buses and decided to walk further away from the waiting crowd to another bus-stop where buses might be easy. The man had followed and when they'd gotten to a deserted place had started yelling from behind, "fi 'le", or drop it. This was in relation to the platic bag she was carrying which contained only a broom and N70. Mama had not let go of the 'worthless' bag but had kept walking, half-stumbling.
At this point, my own hackles up, I asked her to get into the car, but her fear, now of me, returned. I spoke harshly, "Mama, if you don't get into the car, I will leave you here." I could already imagine the would-be assailant moving through the bushes to cut me, Super Man, off and deal me a kryptonite blow on the neck with his machete.
My tone jolted her into the car and we took off. She was staying with another son in a remote part of Lagos and knowing his family would have been worrying about her, had decided to start walking towards the general direction of home and until she could get a bus. When I stopped in civilization, she knelt by the car and prayed for me by the roadside. Prayers like that still act as a barrier against those who curse at the stars when they recollect my name.
PAPA, MAMA AND THE FIRE
I was driving on the 3rd Mainland Bridge with little traffic one quiet Sunday, with my friend, Wale, who was half asleep beside me when we saw a car (an old 504) with fire running along its fuselage underneath where it was parked. There was an elderly couple well into their sixties standing behind it, the female helpless and the old man futilely throwing handfuls of sand underneath the car. We stopped just ahead of them and raced back on foot as other cars numbering about 9 or 10 stopped, people hurtling out and racing towards the burning car.
With one mind, we raised the car on its side and began to try to quench the fire, clothes were used to beat it, people had kegs of water in their trunks and one man actually had a mix of soapy water (his own fire extinguisher).
The fire died and there was silence on that bridge. That day, I saw humanity stand to defend one of its own against the elements and I understood the purpose that has brought us all here. Unity. Rising above pettiness. Above inconsequential differences.