Something happened to me recently. Something that involved my subjection to a loud discomfort in an enclosed space, with my freedom and power to object strangled by a general mindset; a religious mainstream.
As a violation of my fundamental right to peace of mind, it would’ve taken a much different turn if it had happened in a developed country. I’m of the certitude that the source of my unrest would’ve been made to stop, sanctioned, sentenced, or a combination of the three. In utmost sincerity, I prefer the mix.
As if waking up thirty (30) minutes to 5am—in a bid to leave home on the hour, beat traffic and get to the island as quickly as possible—was not enough, every variable I must have contact merged in a conspiracy. Excruciating hooked pain as I sat beside an annoyingly annoying passenger. You’ll understand me soon enough.
This passenger—a woman quadragenarian I’d like to name Mrs Brutus Melody—was a typical pain source (in the rump, neck, and other strategically important body parts) that starts little, gathers momentum inch after inch, arrives at a crescendo and finally, explodes. All in a drab unmelodious tone. I had once imagined Mr Ibu singing Kumbaya; trust me, I prefer the imagination to that reality.
First, her lips began to move like a squirrel munching kernel after a week of fasting and no prayers. I cast her one of those quick glances that carry a c’mon-stop-this-your-nonsense-before-thunder-strikes-you message, but she didn’t move a muscle. Not even a fibre. Continue she did.
As a general rule I follow, I never expend a molecule of glucose let alone a negligible amount of energy on matters that neither affect me/people nor pose a threat to national security, so I relaxed and occupied my space while she continued munching. I went over my laid plans for the day.
But then munching became humming. Hums that can irk the deaf, not at all like that of the sweet humming bird.
Livid as I was, I didn’t bother to turn to her since I already could imagine the woody mien she would have installed on her face; the face that got my vote of immense hate—or hatred, whichever is more caustic—within just a few minutes. I tried to suppress my anger but I noticed my face was also contorted in a way Mr Bean would envy.
The noise from the bus slightly muffled her voice and I was relieved. None of the noises was desirable but somehow I—and other passengers I can assure you—preferred the former to the latter. The relief was however short-lived. The engine revs eased upon gliding into traffic and Mrs Melody took that as a cue to go up at least two notches, shifting into gear her musical explosion.
And she blew our minds to pieces. Nay, scratch that, she blew us to smithereens.
Prior to the moment I had no idea what she was up to but it started making sense to me seconds after the burst. Mrs B. Melody had hitherto prayed (the munching), worshipped (the humming) and then on the main songs of praise (the outburst). All faces turned to her with several frowns and contortions communicating disapproval, but the gestures proved futile as she was deep gone in the spirit.
What can the faces of the disturbed do to a disturbance whose eyes were firmly shut? We didn’t even seem to amount to a mountain before the wicked Zerubbabel in skirt. She delved deeper into the songs which were grossly loud and incoherent, and then spoilt her face like she was trying so hard to weep or stifle an emotional breakdown. It is better depicted by the countenance of one who crunched alum or rushed near-ripe agbalumo (Chrysophyllum albidum).
She shifted through various kind of gospel musics—rock, reggae, high life. . . even pentecostal hymns and many others yet to be discovered let alone documented—in terrible treble and catastrophic tenor that was pure tremor-inducing terror. Yes, frogs croak and it’s annoying, but even the slimy croakers are often rhythmic in their business.
As you would expect, I dubbed her the owner of the most horrible voice mankind has ever heard, and imagined. Whoever beats the record should be shot. Close range. In the head.
The traffic lasted for over an hour and Mrs Melody didn’t pause for once; she had the strength of at least two horses and one black cow. In between I had developed migrane, murmured, hissed severally like others, and a pregnant lady by her other side had changed seat. My anger stemmed from the fact that nobody complained; not even a word to the effect. We all sat and listened compulsorily while the lone mass choir did her morning devotion, more like a mini church service aided by a made-in-Obudu public address system that has seen better days.
Diary, do you know why no one stopped her even though we all would unanimously agree to toss her out into the lagoon if presented the priceless opportunity?
Fear. Fear of stopping someone praising God!
It is ridiculous! You may not understand that. I doubt if you really understand religion, especially in the way we handle it in this clime. I doubt if you know a thing about Sunday school either. The thing here is this: nobody wants to be dealt with like a certain woman was, for mocking a king praising God in his own way, in his own palace. I refer to the King David versus Michal case contained in the holy book here (around 992 BC).
Notice the bold words above? She got served because she mocked him, not complain of disturbance; and he praised in his palace, his royal space, not in some fancy chariot with others or a full fourteen (14) passenger bus.
It was a violation and she was wrong (my opinion). No one should disturb the peace of others all in the process of praising God. What if I was meditating and communicating with my God as well at the moment? What if I was churning in my head ideas on how to cure ebola without a salty input, or better ways to relate with Bola?
With these valid points of mine I have convinced and not confuse myself on the subject matter, right? I’m justified and should be bold to caution her, yes?
Wash! Iró nlá!! Terrible lie!!!
I didn’t. I couldn’t. It was a risk I wouldn’t take at that moment. The believe had eaten deep into me and obviously my other comrades-in-discontent.
So we suffered. In silence. Enduring our collective malady; none willing to risk the possible consequence of stopping the ma and her brutal melody.
I am @jossef69 on twitter.