By: Damilola Ayomide
I had joined my neighbour at the drinking parlour the night before. He looked devastated, like one who was about to be drowned in perpetual sorrow. He was rarely like that, so I knew it had to be something serious. I quizzed him till he finally said something. Something that affected him, me, and every man in our community. He initially laughed at my colossal ignorance. ‘You no dey Facebook?’
I knew about Facebook. The girl I “ate” last spoke to me about it. She asked me to join so we could be chatting frequently. The way she spoke about it, like it was a place of perfection, paradise. That’s not exactly far from the truth anyway. Her pictures were stunning, so much that I had to “like” every single one of them, and I saw that she had many other admirers, particularly men. I shook my head. What a libertarian: women were beginning to disregard their place. I could never think of proposing marriage to her. Anyway, I knew my own housewife wouldn’t dare keep such women as friends: she would have to lose a tooth first. The lump in my throat thickened when I saw her exchange with a man: ‘thanx luv’ was her reply. I wasn’t the only one she was replying with ‘luv’, apparently. I couldn’t but laugh at my naivety. With that backside? I definitely couldn’t have been her only man.
My neighbour continued to talk about this Facebook that I only used to search for more girls. After Cynthia, I’ve met Oge, Bimbo and Matilda. Oge was always asking for money, I had to block her. She wasn’t as big as Cynthia on the backside, but she had a massive front that made my palms simultaneously sweaty and itchy each time I saw her. I almost grabbed them out of her blouse at the hotel reception during our final meeting. It wasn’t my fault; I was too hard because of the cold weather and she was wicked enough to wear a transparent chiffon. I miss her though. But she too, like Cynthia, cannot stay with me as a wife. She liked money too much and her tongue rolled very fast like a tyre; I almost slapped her once.
‘These people want to kill all of us. They hate us. They hate us.’
My neighbour was talking about the news that was all over social media, the one that had his heart heavy and stole his usual playfulness. It was the death of a man in the States. A man murdered because his skin colour was different, because he was black. My neighbour was hardly himself anymore. This was a man who would owe his creditors for months yet laugh whenever they publicly harassed him and thereafter walk straight into the drinking parlour to order more bottles of beer on credit. ‘To ease my sorrow’, he often said. ‘This life na jeje’. I didn’t know something could rile him this much.
He was not done lamenting and cursing. He wanted a retaliation, a full-blown battle. I began to talk. ‘You think say we fit win this one sha?’ ‘These people dey very powerful.’ Of course, he wasn’t having my scepticism, my very sensible and diplomatic approach – I didn’t get that diploma in Human Relations for nothing. Was I mad? Certainly. I was angrier than he was. How dare they? We are men. Men, just like they are. That should count. We are not animals. We deserve humane treatment. It is high time this unequal treatment stopped. What did we ever do wrong anyway? Men are not slaves nor animals.
My phone rang. It was my housewife. Money again. When would a man ever rest? Not even in my own country, my own home. ‘Na you say make I nor work na.’ I certainly couldn’t let her work. Who would raise my children? Women had to be tamed. Give them an inch, well, you know the rest. I wouldn’t know how I would react if she ever had an affair. I could kill. And if he was richer or more powerful, she would have to pay heavily for disregarding me, disobeying my authority and my rulership. She couldn’t be like Oge nor Cynthia: she dared not. Not my Mama Ejiro.
‘Ejiro don dey chop too much o. You sure say no be worm?’
‘If na worm, na money you go give for mericine.’
‘I go soon reach house.’
I ended the call before my son could speak. My neighbour was already on his fourth bottle. Poor man. If he got back home that night in one piece, it would have been a miracle. He was deeply disturbed by the murder, I could tell. I wished I could say the right words to him, but I was also incensed and could only prevent myself from throwing a bottle against the wall. A pop-up flashed through my phone’s screen: “#BlackLivesMatter”. ‘Indeed’, I muttered. Before I could slip it back into my pocket, something else appeared. ‘#JusticeforUwa’, I read audibly.
I heard a hiss. ‘That girl?’ ‘Why did she also go to read in a church?’ ‘Is the church a library?’ ‘They’re not telling us the truth’, my neighbour uttered successively.
‘No mind dem,’ I re-joined. ‘These small girls of nowadays, only God knows what she really went there to do.’
‘They must pay for touching our man,’ he said after a brief period of silence.
I stared into the darkness. ‘Yes, bro, they must pay.’
Damilola is an experienced creative content writer with a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Lagos. She currently works freelance as an entertainment columnist and occasionally offers knowledge on copywriting.