PART I: Penis Stealing Cripple
I got a promise of a treat from a Briton who is also a colleague and my direct supervisor. It was a promise of a cup of coffee for a job ‘well done’. It was Friday last week, and off we went to a posh coffee cafe close to the police headquarters in Abuja. I asked for cappuccino; he wanted expresso. We were the only customers in the Cafe.
Then, a deafening alarum from downstairs outside. We looked out from the tinted cafe to behold a swarm of mob hell-bent bent on lynching a cripple. We were baffled. My British colleague brought out his phone to record the melee from behind the glass. It was the cafe barista who told us what happened – the cripple was alleged to have ‘stolen’ the penis of a fruit vendor. As narrated, the cripple pretended to want to buy fruit, touched the vendor and the vendor’s penis disappeared. The cripple was brought to the spot by a man in a battered car. It was a potential donnybrook that could snowball into killing the duo.
The ‘penis thieves’ were lucky to have one person, probably an influencer among the madding crowd who shielded them until the police arrived and took them away.
But, no sooner had they left when I faced a dilemma from my British colleague.
He continued to ask questions I did not have answers for: did I believe that the cripple really stole the penis; what would the police do to the cripple; what was the evidence that the penis really disappeared; the fate of the cripple, etc. A whole lot of questions I didn’t have an answer for.
In the midst of it all. I told him that it wasn’t totally out of place for the crowd to believe the penis disappearing story. What with reported cases of people killed to harvest their organs for money rituals and countless confessions of perpetrators to such bewildering crimes.
I tactically changed the subject; I’m not cut for arguments. Eliding his many questions was a must for me.
PART II: The Vinegar
Leaving the coffee cafe at around 8pm, my colleague promised me a home-cooked dinner. We bought raw Irish potatoes and some drinks (don’t ask me what!). Getting home, he headed for his flat to prepare chips. I went to my flat, changed and returned to his flat. He was cooking while I stood by the kitchen door drinking and chatting.
We moved to his lounge shortly after to enjoy the chips and our drinks. He asked if I wanted vinegar. I answered in the positive. Though I had no clue what vinegar was. He gave me a bottle. I opened it and tasted it. It wasn’t good. I had thought it was a soft drink. It was time to go home and I felt that it wasn’t proper to leave behind an opened bottle of ‘soft drink’ and wanted to take the bottle with me. He objected. He was very adamant that I can only take a little. He brought a water bottle and poured me some.
I thanked him and went to my flat.
But I was curious as to why he wouldn’t let me take the whole bottle. He just took me out for coffee and cooked me dinner.
I surmised that something was amiss. And went to Google to learn about vinegar.
Google literatured me that vinegar isn’t a soft drink and that you can’t drink it pure. You sprinkle on chips or add a spoon or two to a cup of water to drink. Google also schooled me that vinegar is very acidic and may not be good for someone like me with an ulcer.
It became clear why he said I can’t take the bottle.
I sent him a message that I needed to tell him a story in the morning, with a caveat that he must not laugh when he heard the story. I needed him to know that I had no inkling of what vinegar was.
Saturday morning, I told him that my curiosity to know why he wouldn’t let me take the bottle of vinegar led me to Google and my discovery. He laughed his ass off. According to him, that bottle could last him for two years. We laughed about it.
My take-home from it all is that you can’t know it all. Though a typical village bit, I’ve been to a few counties, dinned with people of various races, status and, colours and knew the word ‘vinegar’ long ago, yet I didn’t know it wasn’t a soft drink.
It is also instructive that no matter how versed you are about your race, country and people a time will come when explaining certain things to people with diverse world view and sentiments would be a problem.
I only hope that my British colleague won’t mention the penis stealing saga again. I really don’t know how to explain the plausibility of it to a person with a different world view.