The Dictionary of Contemporary English defines “Perplexed” as to be confused or worried by something that you do not understand. So we can translate this article to mean that, I am always baffled, confused, and always amazed by my society. Let me explain to you some of these things.
Even though I have eyes, I can’t stare freely at objects. My first visit to the famous Lagos’ Balogun market was trailed with advice from my friend which went like this, “Don’t stare too long at goods” and “Don’t stand too long in one spot”. By ‘too long’ he meant, ‘Don’t look at a good for more than 2 seconds’. The consequence for doing this is being crowded by prospective sellers and sometimes kidnapped by being dragged to their stores for a free showcase of other goods they ‘feel’ you may be interested in. I didn’t want to deal with that so I tried not to ‘stare too long’ or ‘stand too long’ throughout my stay there.
On getting back to Abuja, I realize that my people here are no different. I get nervous when stuck in a traffic especially when surrounded by street vendors selling a variety of goods from snacks to magazines to sachet water to sun shades that have ‘ReyBann‘ written on them. I try to avoid the temptation of staring ‘too long’ because these vendors are quick to hint on your stare as a sign of interest so they flash their goods by your window and linger for uncomfortable minutes showing you other varieties they have. However, this particular set of street vendors will never cease to amaze me by the way they go about their business and they are the sachet water vendors.
You will never understand the true depth of hustling until you watch a young boy of about eight carrying a big bowl filled with sachet water and running after a moving vehicle with the hopes that the driver or passenger will buy at least a sachet. Let it be known that a sachet goes for just ₦10 which is equivalent to about $0.047 (for my oyibo paddies) and the average Nigerian spends about ₦500 a day. So watching this young vendor go through so much for just ₦10 which is not even enough to buy him a good detergent for the washing of his dirty trouser is simply pathetic. Now, the frustrating part comes after running and sweating and sometimes being pushed over by competing vendors, the prospective buyer takes one feel of the water, shakes his head and says “eh eh, it is not cold” then reaches out for another vendor’s water. The young vendor is left to brush off the dust from his trousers quickly and get ready for his next chase. To him, it means nothing and he does this every day, standing and running for nothing less than 8 hours. I am always baffled by this because I cannot think of what motivates them or keeps them going in this line of trade.
I am also always perplexed by the attitude of some Taxi drivers who will convince you that they are familiar with your destination but half way through the journey, they start to ask for a ‘clearer’ description. In other words, they didn’t know your destination but were desperate for customers.
I will never cease to be amazed at the way women are so willing to open up about their personal lives in a salon full of strangers. I wonder how they feel after sharing their sometimes gory details, do they bite their tongues in regret or do they wipe their brow in relief?
I am completely baffled by the inhuman behaviour of some religious sect. The need to kill and blow people up. The need to have their names synonymous with terror all in the name of Religion.
I will never cease to wonder why we as a nation are so unpatriotic. We talk of politics but end our discussions with, “oh well, I won’t be voting”. The society is a ‘me-world’ where inequality widens but the rich do not care as long as bread remains seated on their table. It worries me that in years to come, the situation may be worse than this.
In my society, the slogan is; “Wonders shall Never End” maybe that explains why I am always completely baffled.