Okay, so I took quite a long, unplanned hiatus from this space. Writing just got a bit difficult. This was the last piece I was working on before the unplanned break.
Over the last 3 years, I have come across quite a number of creeps, just going about my business. This is drawn from 3 years of
extensive research; a cumulation of 2 personal experiences and a friend’s experience out of a multitude of others. So, let us begin.
The Unfortunate Young boy.
The year was 2013. The place was Kaduna. I was waiting to go to law school at the time so my dad thought it was a great idea to attach myself to a law firm where I could pick up a few things to help when I eventually made it to law school. And it really turned out to be a great learning experience and the foundation for this post.
I was on my way home from work on this day, I boarded a bus at Ibrahim Taiwo Junction (those familiar with Kaduna would know where this is). I got into the bus and was seated in the first seat. In Kaduna, the conductors sit on the “engine” as opposed to hanging from the door as is commonplace in Lagos. So the bus got filled up and a young boy of maybe 13 or 14 (he could have been 16, dunno. I’m terrible with guessing people’s age) got into the bus and sat on the engine, directly opposite me, then the conductor came in and sat by his side. I thought this was strange. Why does this one bus have to conductors? Then I figured the boy was probably hitching a ride. But I felt really uncomfortable partly because the seat was tight and there was not enough room to move my legs and also because, I didn’t just like the idea of this dude sitting directly opposite me, taking up all the space. In hindsight, I should have gotten off the bus, as the thought had played in my head at the time but I figured, it was just a short bus ride, I’ll be there in no time. So I sat put, with the uneasy feeling in my gut.
Mid-way through the ride, I thought I felt something moving along my legs. See, I was wearing a short black skirt, that rode slightly above my knees when I sat. So I looked down, and I saw nothing on my leg. Although I noticed that the boy’s hand was kinda positioned close to my legs. I looked at him but he wasn’t looking at me so I decided to let it go. It’s probably nothing, I thought.
Then I felt it again. And again, I looked down and saw nothing but his hands placed the same way it was placed earlier. I looked at him again and this time, I met his gaze. I shook my head as if to say, “you better not be trying anything funny.”
At this point, someone had gotten off, so the seat became a bit freer. So I was able to shift my leg a bit. He shifted his legs too and now my legs were in between his. I was 3 stops away from my bus stop. I was super uncomfortable but I just kept thinking, “you’ll soon be off the bus”.
Then I started to feel something moving along my leg again. I paused, to make sure I wasn’t imagining things and then in one swift motion I looked down and lo and behold, I saw the boy’s schlong quickly going back into his pants. He had been moving it along my leg and he immediately retrieved it when I looked down. That was when I saw the hole in his trousers, just around the crotch area. I was livid. I was beside myself in anger.
“You dey craze?” I spewed. The bus had stopped to drop someone and the driver turned at my outburst, so did the other passengers at the back.
“Wetin happen?” They chorused. The woman at the back, upon hearing what he did rained insults on him.
Guess what, dude wanted to deny he did anything. I didn’t know when I hit him with the yellow hardcover diary I was holding.
The driver started to apologise, saying, “Na so dem dey do.” What?
He was about to move the bus when I screamed at him to stop. There was no way I was going to spend another minute on that bus. I got off the bus and walked the rest of the way, disgusted. I couldn’t help picturing the incident. I still picture it quite clear in my mind’s eye.
I told my colleague at work the next day and she shared an incident of a guy she had sat close to in a bus one day, who had put his hand across the seat so he could touch her boobs from the side.
Isn’t that sick?
The Well Dressed Idiot.
The year was 2014. The place was Lagos. I had just finished Law school and took up an internship at a Publication company on the Island. VI to be precise, and I was staying with a friend at Surulere. I was waiting for service year to begin and I thought to keep busy while I waited. To avoid traffic in the mornings, I used to leave the house quite early as resumption time was 8am. I used to get home quite late too and was usually exhausted. I didn’t get much sleep either as I was still suffering law school hangover because I would stay up until very late, my sleep pattern had been messed up. So I usually caught a bit of shut-eye on my commute to work in the mornings (as we all do at some points especially if you live in Lagos).
On this fateful morning, I had boarded the bus at CMS going to VI. This good-looking, well-dressed dude got in after me and sat by my side. The bus got filled up and we were on our way. Of course, we met a bit of traffic on the way. I had placed my laptop bag on my lap and dozed off at some point. In between doses, I noticed he had lovely, trimmed nails (anybody who knows me, knows that one of the first things I notice about people are their nails. Dunno why).
I woke up at intervals to see what was happening around so I wouldn’t miss my stop. I was wearing jeans and a shirt and my well-dressed friend was wearing a nicely tailored shirt and pants, with his suit jacket draped over his arm.
I woke up at intervals feeling uneasy. I would adjust properly and then place my bag closer to me. When we got to VI, I stopped sleeping cos I didn’t want to miss my stop.
I started to feel something around the zipper area of my jeans. When I adjusted and moved my bag closer, it would stop. I felt that a couple of times, so I paused to make sure I wasn’t imagining things. It continued and I moved my bag to look and I saw well-dressed guy’s hand withdraw from my crotch with so much speed you would think something had burned his hand. I looked at him, “Are you kidding me?” I said.
He then gave me the what are you talking about expression. The bus stopped at that point and he jumped out. I had my mouth open in shock.
It was early in the morning. It was barely 8 am. It was a public bus.
Question: what was he trying to do? Unzip my jeans? And then what? In a public space? To someone you have never met from Adam? What did you think was going to happen? That I would let you stick your finger through the zip of my jeans? Are you an animal? I had so many questions. It was and still is unbelievable.
This sent my paranoia through the roof, as you can imagine, and made me all the more alert. I honestly wish I don’t have to be so paranoid.
The Keke Weirdo
This happened earlier in 2017. The place was Lagos. I got a message from my friend on Whatsapp:
“You would not believe what the guy that sat by my side in the Keke told me”.
“He said, ‘Ahn ahn, your leg is very hairy oh. Ahn ahn, you have plenty hair oh.'”
“Yep, he said that my leg has plenty hair and then he said, ‘Won’t you say thank you'”?
Thank you for what? Did he really think that was a compliment? What self-respecting young man stares at a young lady’s legs in a Keke because she was wearing shorts and then proceeds to comment on how hairy her legs look? If that doesn’t scream creep, then I don’t know what does. I couldn’t help but wonder if, under different circumstances, he might have touched her.
There’s plenty more where that came from and I bet we all have pretty jaw-dropping tales. Don’t even get me started on the ass grabbing at computer village and highly inappropriate comments of colleagues or random strangers targeted at you as you walk down the street.
This wasn’t an easy post to write, especially the personal stories. But there are creeps out there, and we must break the culture of silence. In hindsight, I wish I hadn’t been too shocked to shame the well-dressed dude.
Moral of the story:
Be careful in this here streets. Creeps abound. And don’t hesitate to shame them when you come across them. I wish we didn’t have to take up “arms” to fight but in the wake of all the #MeToo stories, it is increasingly clear that there are creeps everywhere and we must watch out for ourselves and for others.