There was this girl in our neighbourhood where we lived in Surulere. She was called Bridget and I hope she reads this story.
Bridget, we thought was a ‘pompous girl’; she was our age mate then, all of us were in our teens- 15, 16, 17 at the most. Bridget never hung out with us; whenever she was sent on an errand, she would walk with her nose high past us.
We tried to be friendly, we would call out greetings but this babe would just sashay past us as if she didn’t hear us.
This used to anger the boys in the area especially in an area where boys felt they had been able to dominate all the females around; you know toast a few, kissed a few, seen a few’s panties…you know that sort of thing.
So Bridget remained unconquerable. She was fair in complexion and always wore short dresses and at that time, she was attending a popular girls secondary school, Our Lady of Apostles at Sabo.
Now, apart from the fact that she ignored all the boys in the area, she was also one girl that never plaited her hair. Back in the day when girls liked to have long hair, I had three sisters and the idea of them cutting their hair was terrifying, Bridget had short hair as in close to scalp and instead of making her look like a boy, it made her the best looking girl in that area despite her gorimapa…gorimapa was also one of the names we taunted her with and she would just walk by.
So now, when we guys hung around, you know, boys gathering as friends to talk bullshit, we also lied about our conquests just to show our friends that we were not suegbe’s. We decided one day to ‘teach Bridget a lesson.’
Now, let me add this; we were stupid kids.
Because that time, we all knew Bridget’s father had walked out of his home; we ‘knew’ he had gone to another part of town to marry a younger woman; the story was told over and over in our area at that time; in fact, we had heard our parents discussing it. We had heard Bridget’s mum crying that night because you see, our homes were very close to one another, they were these government flats built alike, we knew everyone and everyone knew us.
A few weeks after that incident, Bridget and her siblings were hardly seen on the streets; it was as if they were hiding from shame. And we being stupid kids thought that was the best “stick” to poke Bridget with.
I’m not really sure who first mooted the idea but you know, it seemed each of us had a crush on Bridget and had tried at various times to get her to acknowledge our greetings or presence and failed, so in Bridget, we had a common enemy.
It didn’t occur to us to reason and leave her alone, we felt insulted that she wouldn’t even consider anyone of us as a boyfriend, as a friend…would you believe I even tried using my three sisters to get to Bridget. I asked my sisters to invite her to our house so I could use that opportunity to toast her…the girls didn’t agree, they knew I wanted to toast Bridget and told me to go and meet her myself.
So, all four of us friends decided to lay a trap for Bridget to teach her a lesson. Now, let me state clearly that we didn’t have rape in mind, we just wanted to roughen her up, you know, put some fear of us in her mind because of the way she totally ignored our catcalls, our whistles, “our good afternoon Bridget”, our “Hello Bridget”…just small roughening because of course you know our parents would hear of it if it got too bad, we had parents that could literally kill their children over any wrong doing.
So this day came and Bridget was running an errand and as usual, she was in one short skirt and small top. We called out together, “Hello Bridget” but the babe just continued walking like a model on the runway.
We knew that would be the response, so we walked behind her, I know that we wouldn’t have been able to do this individually, I got courageous with the other boys in tow.
It was evening, say about 7pm-ish and so it was already getting dark. So that added to our confidence that indeed, we would teach this girl a lesson.
As we got close to her, she sensed she was in some sort of danger and stopped, looked back at us and we saw fear in her eyes.
“What do you boys want?” she asked us.
We were too tongue tied to immediately respond. We hadn’t planned on any conversation, just to shove her, slap her bum and generally make her uncomfortable.
So we all stopped to stare at her like zombies.
“Why are you following me?”
Then one of us found his tongue, “what is wrong with you sef? Why don’t you answer when we greet you?”
Then the rest of us began to talk at once…
“You think you are too fine?”
“What is wrong with you gan na?”
I was just looking at the babe as she looked from one of us to the other.
The girl shrugged and asked us, “So what do you want now?”
Then one of us, can’t really recall who, shoved her and she fell. We all thought we were going to see her panties and boo…but as she got back to her feet, she picked up a stone or stick, I’m not sure what but she had something in her hand which she used to hit the one closest to her, immediately blood came out and that one howled in pain and began to run.
She swung at me, I couldn’t dodge it fast enough, it hit my nose and blood came out, I felt the pain in my brain…like slo mo, I doubled over as more blood came…then the third guy tried to push her again but she hit his balls…I can still hear his cry even as I speak, more than 30years down the line; our last guy just ran!
That was how Bridget beat four boys that evening; she ended up teaching us a lesson.
We were all mummies boys trying to act tough and maybe we also needed to be taught a few lessons on how to treat women. I also suppose Bridget’s father must have taught her a thing or two about defending herself because those moves that day were not by accident; she was prepared for us.
We never talked about the fight, all four of us. Actually, it was a beating, not a fight. One of us who ran away is still running. He is abroad now. He’s the only one who remained abroad after our studies, the rest of us are still in touch and we can look back and talk about our days of foolishness, and now we can talk about our night of disgrace.
Today, Bridget is married to one rich man in Banana island; I hear she is a business woman with many shops on the island. We still do not talk to her, even though we who grew up in that neighbourhood all have some form of connection long after we all moved away from there. As for Bridget, I kind of knew she would turn out right. So if she ever gets to read this, I doff my hat at you madam; I hope you have a happy life.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)