‘I no like this your touching body, coz you know sey my mama no like am’
Thats one of the dumbest lines I have heard in a song. But it somewhat explains my feelings.
Am I the only one that finds ‘someone touching your body’ offensive?
Like touching. Just touching.
If you want my attention. Call my name, or you can use ‘lady, girl, Aunty, heyys’ whatever!
Just don’t touch me!
Reminds me of my trip to Cotonou, The biggest city in Benin Republic. It was to buy some stuffs for Sallah.
Usually, I would take a taxi from the boader down to the market. But on this day, I was feeling adventurous. I decided to hop on the public transport.
It was a mini van with about 12 passengers. They took turns to steal glances at me. Yeahh, I looked ‘parfait’.
Ten minutes into the journey, the guy that sat close to me started swaying his hands and tapping his feet while humming some tone. I thought he was pressed or something. Not long, his hand was on my lap, he moved it to and fro for some seconds. He stopped, then adjusted his gaze back to his phone.
My mind was very quick to register the touch as ‘sexual harassment’,
I turned to look at this guy. I wasn’t even pissed at his abject black skin (Thats okay, we are people of colour). But his clothes, his choice of dressing. He had on a native attire, with one red boot that looked like a farm tool. Oh, I was disgusted. (This is me feeling better than him and his country).
‘Tuai!’ was the next sound I heard.
Everyone turned to look at us. No, Me!
I felt the muscle in my hands cringe. My left hand was held up close to the man’s cheek.
‘Oh my God, I slapped him! Oh my God, I slapped him! ‘
This was my mind racing. My heart freezing. My bladder filling.
But my mouth…my mouth. With the sassiest smirk on my face, my mouth said…
‘What?! He touched me.’
The guy, (still holding his cheek) told the driver something. Just like everyone in the bus told each other something.
‘Something’, because I didn’t understand what they were saying. They spoke in French.
Soon after, they were all calm.
I felt relieved that the guy didn’t react. Honestly, it was like everyone forgot about the slap.
Under my breath, I praised God.
‘I know this is you, I know you erased these people’s memory. I never believed in miracles but today, I saw it. Thank You Lord’
My prayer was soon cut short though. When I felt a hand drag me. The bus had stopped now. We were in front of a building…looked like a police station.
The guy I slapped, dragged me. I was struggling, kicking, wailing
‘Leave me alone’ Leave me alone. I am a Nigerian, don’t fuck with me!’
Behind us, all the passengers in the bus followed. Pointing and saying, God knows what.
We got to the counter, they explained what happened (I suppose) .
They were speaking in french. The Officers, would occasionally turn to eye me. They gave me that ‘you don die today’ look.
‘Scared’ was an understatement of the emotion I felt at that moment.
One of the officers came close to me…
‘What happened?’ He asked.
You should have seen the sparkle in my eyes at that moment. I almost hugged him!. Finally….English! English!
‘He touched me, so I slapped him’ I replied.
‘He touched you, so you slapped him’ . He repeated.
‘Yeah, thats what happened’
Without another word, he flicked his hands to the junior officer.
The next thing, he collected my bag & dragged me into a cell.
I immediately realized it wasn’t a joke anymore. I went on my knees and started begging.
‘Please Sir, Please sir, I will never try it again, Please I beg you, Sir! Sir! Sir!
They didn’t even move their heads. I sat down to recall all the French Mrs Akeusola had taught me in high School. After about an hour, I started again,
‘Monsieur! Pourquoi! Je suis!! J’ taime! J’ai tort! Je m’appelle Pandora! Quelle est la date aujourd’hui!
I didn’t care what they meant, I just needed something to charm them. Something to get out of this mess!.
The junior officer replied,
‘C’est aujourd’hui mercredi le 1 juin, 2009.
They all started laughing.
Some minutes before 7pm. They opened the cell, I walked to the counter. The man was still there. Yes, the one I slapped.
Ugh, I felt like slapping him again. Infact, throwing him inside the cell!
The Officer brought out my purse, opened it, removed 30,000 Franc and handed it to the man.
‘Are you kidding me?’ I said in a low voice.
‘Its for damages’ The officer replied.
He threw my bag at me & pointed at the door.
I learnt one lesson that day, treat people with respect regardless of race, status or skin colour.
At the same time, I haven’t stopped thinking. ‘Did I overreact? What extent of touch, do you classify as ‘sexual harassment?’
View this on naijastories here