Certain hours of the night are known as ‘ungodly’ and perhaps for good reason. The cover of darkness emboldens men and provides cover for all manner of activities that would normally not be so boldly practised.
This was on my mind when I set out one night, driven by an unpacifiable hunger.
I woke up a few minutes to midnight, craving noodles or nothing. There was none in the house and nothing else in the fridge appealed to me. I swallowed a basin of saliva, “Long night” started playing in my subconscious.
Then I recalled my brother was still outside. There was a Street Jam just outside his friend’s place on the next street, so I called him to get me noodles on his way home.
He agreed, then called back to say I should come and get it, as he didn’t know when he would return.
Clearly, my brother had not factored in that although he was in a place as lit and rowdy as Oshodi market, my end of town had acknowledged night.
But it was less than a 10-minute walk and my stomach had already started a musical composition of Ijaw and Afro Beat.
As I walked along my street, I passed a young girl and her boyfriend in one corner, going about whatever business they saw fit. There were small groups of guys scattered here and there. Like me, there were also some guys walking alone but I was the only one that was being cat-called. I had put on my badass personae, I hated feeling helpless.
When I got to the brightly lit street where my brother was, I could see more young women, even children hanging out in groups. Even here, illuminated as it was, the cat-calls continued and several guys made attempts to touch me, my perpetual snarl notwithstanding.
Most guys could walk alone without fear or trepidation but because I have breasts, I had lost that privilege. Fortunately, the guys here were not as brazen as in other areas. At least, that’s what my brother and I believed. But if anything had happened to me, even educated folks would blame me.
They would say, a girl should dress the way she wants to be addressed. Men are moved by what they see, abi?
But tonight I was wearing faded jeans and a top, looking like sleep. If I had worn something more revealing perhaps, someone would actually smack my bum.
Without the darkness, l knew that half the guys there would not even dare look me in the face, especially if I were accompanied by a TALL and MUSCULAR man.
I wondered how these men would react if a girl walked half-naked on this same street, at any time of the day dangling a “shakabula” or brandishing two swords.
Have you ever seen all those Alaba boys attempt to touch a soldier even if her breasts and buttocks are the sizes of Olympus?
That is why I will never believe in that mantra that men are moved by what they see or that inappropriate dressing causes rape.
At the very least, most men are moved by VULNERABILITY.
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