BY CHYKA BRO
I don’t like lies. Especially lies that damage the reputation of another person.
I don’t like injustice. Especially injustice that dehumanizes the other person so much that shame becomes their only companion.
I do not like discrimination. Especially one that stems from ignorance and bigotry.
My mum was big on holiday lessons and home tutors and so, even after my school would have closed for the term, my twin and I would keep going to school.
We weren’t suffering academically. She just wanted the spare time we had to be spent less on playing games and more on studying.
One day, in one of those holiday lessons I had attended, a teacher had been mean to me.
I had sat in front, with some girls who were from another school and they had been talking loudly to one another. This was over my head as I was sitting in their middle.
When he turned to face the class after the noise caused by the girls distracted him, he had shouted at me, “You there! Stand up!”
I was confused for a minute and it showed on my face. What did I do?
He then went on to use all sorts of invectives on me but the one that stuck more and that still hurts me to date was what he said about my skin color.
“…That’s why you are black like charcoal.”
I didn’t understand where that was coming from. Or the correlation. He singled me out because I was dark-skinned and lashed out at me without hearing my side of the story ahbi truth.
I had tried to defend myself. To point out the girls who were actually making noise while his lecture was going on but all that fell on deaf ears.
He was annoyed I dared stand up to him. That I dared call him a liar in his class. A courtesy he couldn’t extend to me first.
I cried. Not in front of him. But after he had left. I cried because even though I wasn’t friends with the girls who were talking loudly to each other, I thought they would do the right thing. Like, own up to their shit and chest the repercussions.
But they did nothing of that sort. They let me take the fall because I wasn’t one of them. And because they were probably scared.
That incident scarred me a lot. I hate false accusations of any kind and it is why I became so outspoken and made it a duty to stand up for disadvantaged people whenever I can and if they are innocent or have been treated unfairly.
Because I normally do not look or act like someone who would offer such support as I’m always one of the coolest kids in the block, it is usually shocking to the victims and the victimizers when I boldly take the side of the victims.
I have lost count of how many times I took the unpopular side but there’s this one episode that warms my heart to date.
My secondary school had this method of shaming dirty students.
The seniors would scrub you in the open courtyard with that hard scrubbing brush that is usually used for washing toilet floors and detergent in a bid to make you clean.
Then, the seniors would throw everything you owned away and donate new under-wears and clothing items if they so wished as this didn’t happen every time.
Then, they would feel good about themselves for doing the Lord’s work. Of transforming you who was once dirty to a clean being.
But they didn’t understand that the fact that they scrubbed you in front of everyone in such a manner and the fact that they used that hard scrubbing brush rather than a sponge and a detergent rather than a bar of mild soap, showed their true intentions.
That they were really cruel. And the supposed goodwill was all a sham.
I was always so traumatized it made me super clean. I washed every damn day. If I wore it even for a second, best believe it was going to be washed
A hostel mate was unfortunate one day to be found out. And so, she was scrubbed that day at the open courtyard.
Everyone watched. I don’t know what possessed me that day, but I went back into my hostel and got out underwear and other items from my box, and went downstairs to where she was sitting on the floor after been scrubbed and handed the items to her. In the full glare of everyone.
It wasn’t common because people never take the sides of the dirty folks. After all, whatever injustice meted on them was well deserved. They’d always say.
This chick reminded me last year of that singular act of kindness I did for her that stayed with her through those years. I had honestly forgotten about it. 2007 was a long time ago.
This was the message she had written in response to a status update on kindness I had made on my WhatsApp:
“After I was being scrubbed at the courtyard, people gathered, laughed, mocked, and said many things. I was just sitting down by the tap in front of yellow house. You came downstairs with a white singlet and two white pants and roll-on and told me I should not mind all these people laughing at me and that when I finished dressing up, I should come and collect milo and milk. It touched me because I felt everybody hated me.”
When she shared this with me, I had replied, “Oh wow. I did that for you? That’s admirable. I’m proud of me.”
My point is, don’t always look away especially when you can afford not to look away. Especially when others would never think you would be the one standing up for that person. Especially when no one is doing the right thing.
It would teach the onlookers and the victimizers a lesson. That even though you look cool, everyone gets the same treatment and as such, no one is more special than the other.
Hence, they would begin to extend the same courtesy they give themselves to others.
Kindness need not be rich or popular. Kindness need only be rare in the midst of many.
If you can, be kind. It makes you look good but most importantly, it makes the disadvantaged feel good about themselves. For a very long time.