IDP - INDUBITABLY DISPOSABLE PEOPLE
by Lota Eze
I have this weird obsession with precise timing. I say obsession because I lie awake at night sometimes trying to pinpoint the exact second, millisecond, nanosecond, a particular event took place. When was the exact moment in time when I first had a sexual urge; at what point did that dramatic shift take place, from modest virgin to ravenous teen? When in my long history of paranoia did my intense phobia of snakes occur? Did I even realize that such a drastic fear had began to develop inside me?, that my fear had transmuted into a gargantuan monster, meaning the mere thought of scaled serpents is enough to have me covered in goosebumps. If you've ever engaged in this exercise-in-futility then of course you now that it is an exercise in futility. The point I'm trying to make is that most of the time we perceive reality in hindsight, reacting to the consequences of things guised as the present tense.
I had the singular (dis)pleasure the other day of watching a dead body being carried on an undignified platform during a rather undignified funeral procession by the gentle waves right through the waterways in front of the Bonny Camp jetty. As jarring as the sight was to me, that was not the most surprising observation of the day. What really stood out for me was the reaction of the smattering of locals milling about to the grotesquerie. I think it was the quiet way in which they accepted the entrance of the unknown corpse into the sphere of their life experiences like one would; the visit of a relative they would rather not. It was the silent whispers that slowly crescendoed into pseudo-invisible hysterics as the 'Nigerian' in them desperately tried to override common sense. "See as e day carry nyash" ,that was the moment I knew I had to see what had everyone so enraptured. It was the body of a man whom Goodwill our boat driver opined was probably the victim of police supremacy over the masses. I wanted to laugh at the dark comical sight, I wanted to chunder at the sight of death's ability to strip one of all human dignity. The cadaver was bloated to the point of bursting so his backside was quite pronounced and I found myself turning over that quip about "See as e day carry naysh" in my head throughout the day. At what point did we become so desensitized? A dead body just floating around willy nilly in a river in any civilized society would have merited some sort of uproar, I would truly like to believe.
I wanted to cry or throw up, anything to show just how ‘not okay’ what we had just witnessed was. I sat transfixed just like the rest of them as the body made it's solemn spread-eagled journey out of sight. I think we were all realizing that the body in there could have been any one of us. We were internally adjusting, to the weight of the miserable knowledge that we are a country of disposables. It made me laugh to think that ultimately Godswill was probably right and he was indeed killed during police detention and dumped unceremoniously by the same men the government swears are our friends and protectors. The only buffer between the average Nigerian and undignified death is as Davido once rightly said '30 billion for the account' and even then it’s all still a bit murky. Soon enough all thoughts of the unfortunate fellow with whom we shall never make acquatiance were banished to the realm of all things 'na so naija dey' and we just simply got on with the rest of our day. It didn't seem right, none of it seemed right. Life is not supposed to feel like the plot of a Stephen King novel; or is it?
I have taken to waking up in the middle of the night because my latest fear is that I'm going to look out the window and find the world in flames. I am scared that I'm going to wake up one day and the world that is and the world that was will never be the same and I will be left floating somewhere in between. I am petrified that I am going to wake up one day and find that I have become flotsam and jetsam in the ocean of reality. A casualty of my motherland, the tragedy lying in the fact that the other option is/was death. I have started to develop an aversion to policemen, men with guns in general. I do not fancy the possibility that I may have to converse with a mentally unstable individual wielding a gun. I do not like the balance of power in such situations. I detest the fact that logic and truth are abstract concepts in those situations because my 'Barrister lawyer arguments' are worth nought because I myself have no gun of my own to level the playing field.
I have been inundated with thoughts of the exact time that man died, at what point his soul left his body. I want to know the exact point murder became a thing that elicited little or no reaction from people, at what exact second did it start to go downhill. I have concluded that it must have been way before my time because this country has been exceptionally miserable for as long as I can remember. What if this is all we'll ever be? A country of indubitably disposable chattel that can be tossed into the canal like debris, left to ' dey carry nyash' for the fishes.