by: Destiny Okoduwa
You are seated there, head bent over an opened past question leaflet, amidst teenagers like yourself in a UTME tutorial. I am in your head, hoping you’d hear me whisper words that’d douse your ignorance scheduled to display in a minute from now. This is what I am muttering: to be a real gee is to love football. Below is the template of my unpopular opinion.
The teacher needs to cite an example for the lesson he is teaching, so he chooses sports. He points to you and throws the question, probably so he can do more justice to his explanation. “Who is your favourite football player?” he asks.
You do not think twice before answering. Defying my whispers, your reply is an audacious and point-blank retort. “I am not a fan of sports.”
The class glare at you, boys and girls alike. You have just vomited the abominable. There’s a short-lived hush, then whispers spread swiftly before climaxing to an outburst of peals of giggles. Who does that? Do you not know that you are first a boy before a human who has a choice to pick his interests and disinterests. The study of Civic Education and Government in high school has made it known to us that there are limitations to almost every right, if not all. And this is where you must have lost it. You probably haven’t been paying attention to those subjects in class.
If you ask me, this is why the reaction of the class is justified: according to chapter Nigeria, section Society, sub-section Norm, it is emasculating for boys to have feminine interests. Terribly unheard of if they’re indifferent about sport, football especially. How can you say you do not enjoy the ecstatic feeling of watching people struggle to gain possession of a spherical object? You should have just said something, at least the names of footballers you must have heard or read about by chance, say Lionel Messi, because we live in a world where people’s validation is oxygen, abi?
My dear, you have to learn to reconstruct yourself into a peg that fits the hole that society has dug for you: that you, as a boy, have no business wearing pink, bracelets, and a host of other things tagged ‘solely feminine,’ lest you stand a chance of being called names reserved for people of the sort: sissy, princess, et cetera. I can swear those are what your classmates would call you but for fear of being scolded by the teacher. You see? On this side of the divide, humans totter between fear and detest for what they do not understand, and when it gets to a certain point they give it a name, however derogatory.
Why do you think young adult males now purchase beard-growth creams? A boy who is of age should start sporting a beard regardless of individual differences during puberty and post-puberty. You don’t want to be referred to as a princess, do you? Especially on the blue app (it’s usually all cruise and inshallah but let’s just pretend these remarks don’t come back to taunt them behind the screens of their phones—there’s always an iota of truth in every jocular remark.)
If you look closely, far beyond the cotton, flesh and tissues, you’d see that engraved in the minds of the students glaring at you is the question: how dare you disrupt how we’ve been programmed? Let me tell you: be it consciously or unconsciously, they’ve been programmed to abhor difference and anything, ideas or appearance that do not conform to conventions.
So dear you, this is me using this reverse psychology to admonish you. But I must first inform you that adherence is at your own risk. So here it is: to be a real gee is to love football, to be obsessed with it like the provision of your three-square meal depends on it. You must have something to say during football discussions amongst your peers. Isn’t it ideal to have an opinion on everything? This admonishment loosely translates to: to maintain relevance is to be prone to conformity. It is pertinent therefore that you please people at the expense of displeasing yourself, that you bury your interest if they’d raise eyebrows. To hell with the clichéd be yourself, my dear, to hell!
Destiny Okoduwa weaves short stories and creative pieces around adolescence and its intricacies.