Shit happens. That’s what we say, adding a shrug for good measure while we go on with our daily lives. We’re used to it – those bizarre occurrences that shake up our seemingly normal routines, making us stop and gawk while trying to make sense of what just happened. We can’t, so we say “Shit happens”, shrug and move on.
How do you explain high school kids setting off home made bombs at the Boston marathon a few months ago? In the same vien, how do you explain two men running an off-duty soldier over and hacking him to death with meat cleavers? Still, how do you explain the press trying to link the perpetrators of the crime to a country that has no business in the matter, tagging them as Nigerian-British? Yeah, that ranks high on my list of crazy too. What the hell is Nigerian-British?
Okay, let me localise…
I once boarded a bus heading for Agege from Iju, both neighbouring towns in Lagos. Fortunately, I was able to get a window seat (my preferred position) in the middle row, furthering my objective of avoiding any disturbance or transit debate that might crop up about the driver, conductor, the driving, the police, LASTMA officials, the state of the nation, or even the price of beans in the market. For good measure, I plugged my earphones.
My bid for a solitary cocoon in the midst of 14 people was nullified when an argument ensued in the row before me. I often say that my curiosity would have killed me dead even if I was a cat with nine lives. Earphones off, I discovered the argument was about a new passenger telling another to shift. The latter said there wasn’t space for him to shift into, except the new passenger wanted a human merger or life from that moment onwards as a Siamese twin. Before anyone knew it, the new passenger did a ‘Suarez’; biting the unyielding passenger on the head. No insults, no further protestations, he just frigging bit him – on the head! As I expected, it became the topic for the rest of the trip. Earphones were back on by the way.
I simply shrugged it off as one of those crazy episodes, knowing another one was coming sooner or later. As we say in church, the glory of the latter shall exceed the former; in this case, replace glory with craze.
I was not wrong. This time around, my sister was the witness. She went to the beach with friends as all kids do *clears throat*. On their way back, they were almost clattered at a junction by a car coming from the opposite direction. As usual, an argument ensued about who was wrong and who was right. Next thing, the offending driver goes back into the car and brings out a gun. For what? Over an argument on bad driving? My sister’s friends – smart boys – simply told the guy there was no need for such extremes, backed off, and drove away.
Then the gunner shot at them.
He didn’t shoot into the air to make a statement, he frigging shot at them! For what, I ask again? What if the bullet hit someone? Will it be explained as another episode of accidental discharge? There are many questions but one simple answer: people are crazier than we think. Like a comedian once said, many are mad but few are roaming the streets with unkempt hair and torn clothes.
There’s no moral here, except that the person next to you might actually have lost his/her marbles but is just awaiting that trigger to set him/her off. As Nigerians, we pride ourselves as being the happiest people on earth despite the problems around us. We scoff at suicide rates in the western world and wonder why people choose to end their lives in the midst of prosperity. We smirk at the fundamentalists in the Middle East and their penchant for blowing up stuff. Guess what, we have our own version of bombers here too (hello Boko Haram). Nigerians are no strangers to suicide too: remember the girl who drank bleaching liquid because she was jilted and many others?We are not the happiest people on earth. We are people, human like everybody else – with the same wiring, nuts and screws. And like people around the world too, we have problems -big ones. We just choose to wear masks and smile – like everyone else, saying nothing is wrong till we blow up when others least expect. But we are what we are; flawed specks of protoplasm littering the earth. Vent a little, it helps – before you do a Suarez when you least expect.