The past year has been one of the most challenging years of my life. There have been times I found myself in situations that kept me up at night thinking ‘What if?’ ‘How?’ ‘Why?’. There have been times I made mistakes whose consequences would heavily affect my life negatively. Somehow however, things got better every single time by the grace of God. On the flip-side, there’s been proper positive things that have happened. While the bad outweighs the good (by a lot), I’m still very thankful cos things could really have been worse. Random but isn’t it funny how many of us are going through shit but act like everything is alright because we don’t want to disturb anyone with our problems? No? Just me? Okay then.
There’s so much to be thankful for. I have learned a lot, but one thing I’ve come to realize I’m most grateful for isn’t something that happened within the past year.
I’ve been away from home for the most part of the year, thanks to NYSC and it has been quite an eventful experience. Very. Very. Eventful. Got myself a cozy place to call home for the year which seemed to be in a potentially drama-free location.
I have alarms set on two devices I own. Both go off in the morning to wake me. But you see, this whole time, I’ve actually been ‘using’ three alarms.
What is this third alarm? My third alarm turns out to be my neighbors. On days where the alarms on my technological devices fail to wake me up from my slumber, my neighbors come through; and for this I am thankful.
The best part of this alarm is it’s never the same sound. I’ve been here for roughly 10 months and they’ve probably only repeated the same alarm soundtrack at most 7 times. On days when it’s not Mother Neighbor shouting so ‘awon ara Ile le lo kirun’ , it’s eldest child neighbor doing the shouting. These two were the most common alarm soundtracks during the early days. Until… April.
Not to sound like an African grandma but I feel something came into this place about that time. The sound tracks changed. I still remember the first time. Alarms one and two had blared but I ignored and went back to sleep. It was only few minutes neighbor alarm came through.
It sounded like a stainless steel pan connecting with something but I couldn’t quite place it, until I went to my window and from the ongoing dialogue, one of the children was getting his/her ass beat with a whole frying pan. Mind you, the person doing the beating gave birth to the victim. The beating stopped and I went about my day as usual.
Over the next few days, I got to hear new soundtracks. The weapons changed. Sometimes a broom, sometimes a stick; sometimes a bucket, and other times a fist.
I feel bad cos I’ve gotten used to this consistent domestic violence. These children in my honest opinion may never be happy while they’re inside that house. Yeah, there’s times they laugh together and stuff but ah. While many would defend this nonsense and call it discipline, I personally feel that would be a garbage opinion.
Another neighbor lives with her daughter. 7 times out of 10, she’s insulting this daughter of hers. The other 3 times, she’s beating the shit out of her.
Morning, afternoon, night, it doesn’t matter. The violence is good to go. One afternoon, on my way back from work, alarm neighbor is beating her son; I’m talking MMA beating here, uno fists, kicks, the whole lot. I try to beg her to stop and come between when she insults me in Yoruba, tells me to mind my business and fake reaches to strike me. I didn’t flinch but I was proper scared cos 1. I don’t know how to fight and 2. I wouldn’t know how to react. Anyway, I take my leave and go about with my life.
Just this evening, for about half an hour, lives-with-daughter-neighbor spent the whole time insulting her daughter while punctuating the insults appropriately with nice slaps. She even went as far as telling her daughter, and I quote ‘you are not worth prayers. You are useless’. I’ve tried to talk to said daughter but every time I want to, I change my mind. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a bit scared, or because I don’t know what to say. Also, there’s the fact that she’s younger than me and, well, I don’t want trouble.
I’ve been here for a very short time; at least from the perspective of all these victims. From the look of things, they grew up under these conditions and are used to it now. It’s quite sad. I’ve been trying to imagine what kind of adults these kids would grow up to be. It’s a given that they’ll be proper violent. But what worries me most is how I can’t see them not abandon their parent if (and I hope they do) they make it. I mean, if I was in their shoes, there’s no way I would genuinely love my parents.
Sigh. In the end, as it has been made clear, it’s not my business.
If you grew up in a loving home, you should be really thankful. As I’ve come to realize, loving homes aren’t commonplace. The occasional ass-whopping is okay though, just to be clear.
I’m really thankful for the parents God gave me. Wasn’t much of a stubborn child so I was beaten very few times (It was mostly ordinary belting though), but there wasn’t a single time any of my parents said anything outright hateful or emotionally damaging to me; can’t remember a single occurrence. I can imagine how sad I would be if my Dad or Mum said I was useless or wasn’t worth a prayer.
Anyway, I really just think we should be grateful if we were privileged to grow up in loving homes. I mean, there’s many of us who relate with our parents like they are our close friends. Be grateful.
Also, if anyone has any idea how one can help these victims, I would love to listen. Cos I really can’t think of a way to come to these perpetrators as a woman.
Oh, I should really use the word ‘proper’ less.