Thoughts Lead To Appreciation
I do my best to avoid such a visit. The university is a central point for the locals, and their culture. The thought alone gets me so tense my usual heavy breathing – thanks to asthma – is aggravated.
Without an alternative rendezvous and reluctant to ask my appointment, who already has a very busy schedule, for a meeting outside the university, I commenced my psychological drill with the objective of avoiding any source of annoyance.
Should the rule of avoidance fail, plan B, the firm deflection of the annoyance and its source, was to take effect.
The plan was to leave my home as early as possible, meet my appointment, tender my sincere apologies for not staying longer and promptly exit the university well before the crowd in the university increased.
My first day outside my home for a long while commenced as planned. Some smiles and a greeting “As-Salam alaykum (Peace of Allah is upon you)”. Caught off-guard, I responded in kind. Today is a good day, I thought.
That was not the only surprise, for the transport fare had increased by 50 percent. Conceding the increase in order not to delay my appointment, I headed to the university bus terminal.
More surprises; the terminal has transformed into a hub for interstate transport. Ooookay! So how am I supposed to get to university? I wondered. “University buses are in front,” offered one of the attendants, recognising me. I glanced at him in acknowledgement, relieved.
The passengers were genuinely pleasant. Now, that was the major surprise of the day. There was none of the trademark misbehaviours. AlHamduliLlah (Praise be to Allah).
The university looked gorgeous with the floral decorations. Nice! To my surprise, my appointment offered not to keep me. I had been wondering how I would take my leave without causing offence.
My mission accomplished, I made my way out of the university in admiration of the face-lift the infrastructures in the university has undergone. I paused. Why not take a photograph and write an article on the day’s experiences?
Out came my phone – AlHamduliLlah for mobile-friendly technology – and I took a couple of pictures.
Everyone on the bus was calm. This time I was the only female passenger. The usual murmuring of “Shi’a” was conspicuously absent. The Imams have been doing a great job ringing the truth into the ears of the locals.
The Imams at my neighbourhood Jumu’ah Masjid based the Friday sermon on my second letter to my people Ndi Igbo. Perhaps Imams elsewhere did the same.
There was such commotion about the letter with the usual assassination threats. The indigenes want me to write articles lauding the “peaceful environment” of Northern Nigeria.
Peaceful? – With the treachery and suffocating intimidation. I shall admit this region is peaceful only when the strangling hold on people’s neck is dismantled.
A satisfactory day was ruined when my neighbour’s disorderly girlfriend arrived and insisted on banging at the locked gate, eventually and forcefully had the gate opened.
She had the right to make as much noise as possible, because as I overheard her tell her people I “was not a married woman”.
I shall not be surprised if she believes my having some peace and quiet in my own home was unacceptable in her culture whereas her being bedded by a man with whom she shares no nuptial ties was perfectly normal.
In any case, my thoughts were with the Imams who are doing their utmost to strip the inhabitants of their crude beliefs and attitudes. The Imams truly have their job cut out for them.
The only option left was to exercise self-restraint. AlHamduliLlah (Praise be to Allah) who endowed us with the ability to self-control.
Well, the day still ended on a positive note considering there was no confrontation between me and my neighbour over the issue. He appeared angry at her misconduct. The next few days will shed more light on that.
In fact, I had contemplated abandoning the idea of writing a positive article such as this. Going ahead with the article was – and still is – risky, as any goodwill towards the locals is, under normal conditions, misinterpreted as a license to misbehave, not to speak of after the criminal breaking and entering into the premise.
Who knows what they will do next? I wondered. Break down my door perhaps, if I do not respond to their knocks.
Intrude into my privacy perhaps, considering I frequently leave my door ajar with the curtain as a screen. The little sense of security I have had these years has evaporated.
Despite considering this article positive, I expect to receive the customary assassination threats; anything short of a “peaceful environment” will get me hanged. Oh my God! Serious laughter! Let me laugh well while I still can.