I am Not A Humanist
Everything is wet .
My eyes from tears, the tub from the shower, the entire part of this country from rain. And it makes me so sick that I close my eyes. There was a time you know, when i was in total love with the rain, be it a drizzle or a downpour, I would dance beneath letting the drops touch me, beat me, cleanse me, excite me. Calm me. Then I’d dry off and watch the rest behind my window. Now I hate it.
I threw up. Can you imagine that? Like there, at the slaughter market, in a roadside gutter. I just threw up. Me.
If you asked how it all started,
Germaine would say
‘These are things one can’t trace back. They probably started even before centuries came up. And we can help, if we put our minds to it. You see there’s enough for our need but not our greed. Never our greed’
Naturally, I’d counter saying that sometimes we couldn’t really help. That our faults came with our stars. Not with us. That having a spine didn’t mean one had life. One could be dead and be alive.
‘Look at the lessprivileged’ I’d say
‘look at the handicapped, the blind, the deaf, the lame. Look at the orphans.’
‘We could do something‘, she’d say ‘I could do something. Create a drug, something, that rearranges their cells, to correct their lives. Correct their handicaps’.
‘Germaine. You can’t rearrange new cells to correct a missing mother. I’m not talking about their physical deformities. These people don’t need clothes, or shoes, or food, or money. Okay technically they do…But what they need is a hug, a smile, love. Some normalcy. Not to be taken as a big rotten deal.’
Never one to throw emotion about, Germaine would snort.
‘I’m trying to be practical darling. They don’t need your pity.’
Right? She’d turn to Ade
‘No. No. Not today. If it’s not about money I’m not interested ‘. Then he’ll plug in his earphones.
Then my whole class would groan from the sidelines.
Maxwell: Oh no they’ve come again
Delight: These two never make any sense
Peace: Can you speak in English please. Hey like my new post on instagram
Zino: (not at all concentrating) But the Bible contradicts itself soo.. Loook here
Cam: write a new one then.Aunty Jesus. (Roaring laughter)
Then Mr. Garry would bark. ‘Would you all shut up. Why can’t we all listen to the eloquence of silence?’ and they would shut up for a while not because they think him witty but old and stupid.
If only you could feel their revolting apathy, like they didn’t know they were privileged, we were privileged. To them real life was a bore.
And if you looked at me at this point you’d see my eyes bright and wet.
‘Too much damn emotion!’
‘Don’t swear.’ I’d say knowing she’d do it again.
Germaine always swears.
But this is not the point. The point is that I’m a humanist. A very passionate one who’d rather give her heart to a beggar and talk about world hunger than boys. I’ve always wanted to have a foundation . I’d be with them every day. Love them. Totally.
So you’ll understand how shocking it was for me when my bag of potatoes fell down and all my potatoes jumped and ran around, away from me.
Contrary to general belief, Nigerians are not very helpful in certain situations (this one for Instance). So naturally, I started to look for them alone, picking them up because in times like this #500 is a huge amount to throw away. And naturally, the marketing continued. People would look at me strangely and push me, even, in their rush.
I was still peering around people’s feet looking for my last potato when the little girl came to me.
Her right hand was bent, mishappen, contorted in a sickening way. Like she didn’t have bones there. Like a sick joke from the universe.
‘Straw for bones. Straw for bones. Twirl them up and twirl them down. Hahaha’
But that was not the worst part. At the end of her rollercoaster arm, was a fleshy pulp with four fingers sticking out. Atop that pulp, sat my last potato.
You know how things happen in slow motion in films, that’s how it was because for what felt like hours, i just stood and stared at her, like it was only both of us in the world.
Smile you idiot’ my brain screeched at me after a while. ‘Say thankyou. Give her one of those your famous humanist hugs. Love her.’ But my legs didn’t move. My eyes didn’t move.
And then, out of the blues, she smiled. A big wide smile that hurt my belly. Majority of her teeth were yellow, one was grey. Then she held out my potato and with her pulp,
Shoved it at me so that not just the potato but her pulp was pressed against me.
‘EW. EW. EWWWW‘ A part of my brain screeched and my body suddenly remembered how to move because it bolted, bent itself beside the closest gutter, and pushed everything out of my stomach. Making retching sounds that were uglier than my vomit and the green water mixing together in the gutter. Seeing the ugliness of it all.
But when i looked up, the black girl was gone.
‘ThankYouLord!’ I almost cried then bolted from the market. All the while in the taxi thinking
‘She touched me. God she touched me. Ew. Ew. Ew. ‘
And when I got home, I dumped my potatoes on the kitchen floor and flung myself wildly into the bathroom, under the shower.
She touched me. Oh Lord. Eww. Eww. I can smell her on me. Eww.
And I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed. Then outside, it started raining, heavily. Then I started crying.
It’s still raining, I’m still crying, but I’ve stopped scrubbing.
‘Jesus! What have I done. What did I do. She was just a little girl. She didn’t choose to have that hand. Jesus. What if she hurts herself because of me. Maybe she’s crying now. Or maybe she’s used to people throwing up when they see her. Jesuss. I’m meant to be a humanist. I’m meant to be good. Give hugs and smiles. Build a foundation. Have a pure heart.’
I’m sure now that, my tears are wilder than the rain and my insides are wilder than my tears. I am revolted by my actions. Heartbroken, dissapointed. I want to flog me.Kill me. Because I am a monster. I don’t deserve to be fit and healthy and rich.
But whatever I feel is insignificant to what a little girl out there feels right now. She’s probably not dancing in the rain because she doesn’t have a house to dry off in, a window to watch out from. A right hand to eat. Probably not even a mother.
Oh God. What did I do.
I know that I won’t tell Germaine or Mr. Garry or anybody because I’m no better than the rest of the world. I’m probably even worse.
I sit and cry under the shower till my head swims because contrary to my belief, I can’t do it. I’m a monster,a hypocrite. I’m not good. My heart is not big or bright.
With every tear i cry, i hate the rain. With every raindrop that falls, I hate the universe because it’s not fair. She was just a little girl and there are so many other little ones out there.
It’s not fair.
My heart is a rotten yellow like the color of her teeth. And I am not a humanist. And I can’t stop crying.