I am trying hard to get my breathing back to normal as I type this. It’s a sunny Wednesday morning and I have the good fortune of free Lagos roads. Looking forward to a great day, I try to enjoy my bus ride. But this city brings up the craziest surprises.
Somewhere around Yaba, a man who is carrying 5-foot long U-shaped iron rods gets down from the back and takes a seat at the front row where I am at the left window seat. I watch him as he arranges them on the floor around our feet and ask him to be careful.
The regular battles with conductor for change go on. Next thing like a flash, I feel the weight of said iron rods suddenly fall on my feet. They had lost their precarious balance and landed on me and the lady beside me. I bear the brunt of the curved parts where they fold. Is this how my toes will get crushed? I shout in pain and annoyance asking him why he wants to paralyse me, the lady also said she felt some pain.
He picks them up and says “E má binú.”
Then he gets angry (the nerve!) and tries to seek sympathy for what he perceived as the hurtful choice of my words. I start to see stars at this point. He must be joking. This guy wants to send me to orthopaedic hospital on this blessed morning and has the guts to take offence at how I object to this?
Other passengers (women) plus conductor join in saying E má binú (sorry). I tell them sorry is not going to cut hospital bills and they should call Mr Iron Rods to account instead. He could have conveyed these dangerous metals in a way that does not maim other passengers.
This manner of entitlement , is it a Nigerian thing or a male thing or worse, both? I scream at him and tell him he has no right to gauge the intensity of my pain or to nitpick at my reaction. It’s in a mixture of English and Yoruba.
Next I hear , “Sorry eyin olóyìnbó” a non-apology mixed with a common street insult reserved for educated people. i.e. you are speaking too much English. I was not expecting this as he (barring his antics) appeared educated. I do not stop telling him that he hurt me badly and is doubly wicked for trying to play the victim. He then goes on to say a barrage of fake’E ma binu’s other passengers and conductor help him to do same. Their sorry is doing nothing for the pain shooting across my toes.
I was calming down when suddenly the driver, who should have mandated the man to strap the iron bars on the hood or something and is therefore complicit in my injury said ,
“Oro eyin obinrin gan-an le” (You women are difficult).
I rounded up on him with the fury of ten lionesses.
“Don’t tell me nonsense! Face the person who did wrong. Will you people’s sorry pay my hospital bills? Because I’m a woman, I should smile until you kill me right? You think you’ve seen a fool who won’t fight for her rights ”
(Was the English too much?)
Frankly, we all couldn’t wait to reach my bus stop. Them to get rid of me, me to be free of this madness. They all continued to beg this man like he was the one who would be limping for a day.
This attitude of taking sides with the person who is obviously in the wrong have weighty consequences often costing limbs, lives and affect the victims in many other ways. This brand of injustice is worse when women connive with men when they should be defending those who have been wronged.
In trying to brand me as an over- reacting woman and him as someone who made a simple mistake and should be let off easily, they let me down. None of them sought to check for wounds or provide first aid. In times like this, I like to imagine how sorry he would have been if he had done this same thing to a soldier or a policeman. But I am reminded that brutality is not a great solution either.
I hope they all have a great day.
Meanwhile I have examined my metatarsals and they seem fine, none are broken thankfully. My foot will hurt for a bit, and I think the shoes will survive too.
Thank you all for your concern.