It’s The Way We Are

It’s the way we are in Nigeria.

Even though it’s none of your business, our people will turn to you, a random stranger in a vehicle and say, “Sister, you see am?”

“Brother, what do you have to say about this issue?”

“Sir, it’s a pity o. May this country not kill us.”

It’s the way we get personal.

Like in the keke. They’re all headed to different destinations along the same route. The two women behind are talking. Actually, one talks while the other listens and gives an answer every now and then.

“…what I can do. Because I really need to have this your type of fine skin. There’s no cream I haven’t used. See my skin. It’s one cream that caused it. I’ve stopped using it, but it really burned me. The woman who sold it to me said it would bring out my real complexion. Only God knows what nonsense she mixed inside.”

“Eh yah,” the other woman says, her lips turned down at the corners. Her expression is one of irritation. “You should use natural products. It works for me.”

“Eh but what if I use it and it doesn’t work for me? I’ve heard people that natural things don’t work for.”

“Then use it for a short time and see how it works,” says Fine Skin.The driver looks on the mirror and his lips twitch in amusement at Fine Skin’s contained annoyance. One can tell she’s fighting the urge to roll her eyes.

“I use black soap as my toilet soap and mix coconut oil, extra virgin olive and palm kernel oil as my cream. I also add shea butter. But to be honest with you, it’s mostly genetics.”

“It’s true o. You’re right,” replies the second woman, her tone one of doubt.

“I know your genes contribute to it but let me still take your number.” She fishes out a pen and flips open the back cover of the bible in her hand. “I’ll call you so that you can really explain it to me.”

This time, the second woman does roll her eyes. Then as reluctant as a virgin bride on the night of her arranged marriage, she reels out her phone number. Her demeanour leads the driver to believe at least one of those digits is wrong.

“My phone is not here, but as soon as I reach the house, I’ll call you.”

We get in your space and we are kind.

You can be walking down the street and another woman will reach out without warning and adjust your peeking bra strap. Even though he also sells yams, the man at the market will sell his neighbour’s yams to you because that one is your customer but has gone for lunch.

It’s the way we sometimes act like we’re hard of hearing.

Someone seated in the middle of the car would say to the taxi driver, “Oga, I go drop for junction.”

Then he’d pay the driver and the car would slow to a stop. He’d turn to the passenger seated by the door. And that one would say, “Are you dropping here?”

“Mtscheeeww! No o, I’m not dropping. I just want us to sit here and admire the road,” the other man would reply sarcastically. Because sarcasm is also our way.

It’s the way we try to protect what’s ours.

Just like when Lola called her friend, Nene, aside and warned her.

“That your house girl is too busty. Did you not see her waist when she came?”

To which Nene replied, “No, ore mi. She was wearing one dirty, oversized dress.”

“Hmm, I don’t think she should remain in your house. I’m not saying Tunde is a cheat but men can’t be trusted. Plus, Yoruba men and waist. Shine your eyes o!”

And though Nene also has fairly large Ibibio hips and a sizeable bum, and knows for a fact that unwilling men can’t be kept, a seed has been sown. She’ll do whatever it takes to “protect” her man.

It’s the way we like to quarrel.

Na why you go enter bus for Lagos and even doh the conductor don talk say, “Hold ya change o! I no get change. Hold ya change o!” person go stee enter with ₦1,000. When conductor collect the money, fight go start. Laslas, e go give am change. Or marry am with anoda persin.

It’s the way we honour friendships.

Akpan dies at the age of forty, leaving behind his young window and two children. His six friends, all friends since secondary school, will gather and bury him with honour. Then set up scholarships for his children.

It’s the way we are in Nigeria.

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