Remember when we were growing up how our parents always told us to listen to the quiet voice inside our head? That it is the voice of God? My Mum used to tell me that all the time while I was growing up. I was just too stubborn and always angry, she’d say ‘listen to the calm voice in your head! Gentle words drive away anger, you don’t have to prove you are right or innocent, let the person’s anger go first.’ Did I listen? Blood would rush to my head so fast and by then I can’t be sure which voice is slow or fast, I just want to bite off someone’s ears.
Early in the month, on my way home from work I went to buy pineapple from my usual customer, a slim dark boy from Borno State, who sells pineapples by the junction of a tiny hidden back road in Anthony. He usually keeps what he believes is the sweetest and juiciest pineapple for me, so that when I get there I make small talk, pay, carry my pineapple and skip home. But on this day, after saying goodbye to the pineapple seller, I turned to leave but there was a huge tall man standing in my way, flanked my two others, and this road is really tiny. I wondered why they were standing on the way. I was going to ask them to excuse me but the look on their faces. Hmmm. So, I thought I should just duck around and go my way. As I did, the big man literally flung me back. He looked alarmed, ‘why didn’t you ask me to excuse you?’ He asked me? ‘Why did you pass my back?’
I felt the familiar rush of blood to my head, I was so mad, he didn’t just touch me, he dragged me back like a small child and almost pulled my arms from my shoulder. I wanted to ask him if he thinks his father owned the path, why was he standing at the entrance anyway? Where did he expect people to pass? As my blood boiled my Mum’s voice popped in my head, gentle words drive away anger, so I breathed and told him sorry that I didn’t want to disturb him that’s why I tried to move around him. He seemed taken aback by my sudden apology after the fire that flashed through my eyes. He waved me off, I just sighed and went home.
I had totally forgotten about the incident until I saw him again last week. Brethren, guess how I saw him? Fully kitted in the uniform of the Nigerian Army, him and the two others who looked like his ‘boys’
Hay! This is how I would have turned news headline? Girl beaten to a pulp by soldiers, or worse, girl beaten to death by soldiers, or Girl slapped by soldier has gone deaf with hashtag #JusticeforLucia.
The pineapple seller remembering the event of the previous weeks told me that soldiers have been coming around for a while now, that they are looking for some area boys.
So that is why he wanted to remove my hands from my shoulders? Anyway, brethren, that is how I escaped turning into a news story and hashtag on twitter. So my prayer for you this forthcoming week is that as you deal with Lagos and Lagosians, you remember to listen to that slow-talking voice, and that gentle words drive away anger.