I’ve never been confrontational. The desire to run every time I was faced with difficulty has been with me since childhood. My earliest recollection of running was when I was four. My mother had beaten me for turning her powder into baby food for my dolls. My excuse being they were hungry. After the unjust punishment was meted out, I quietly packed my lunch box with some of the incriminating baby food took my doll’s hand and whispered, ‘I’m running away!’ I walked past my mum, shoulders squared, got to the door and in as dignifying a manner as i could muster given that my bum was still sore from the spanking tried to open the great door, my mum watched me in silent curiosity. I finally opened it and walked out. By the time I got to the gate my puzzled mother figured out what I was trying to do, ran after me and scooped me in her arms and back into the house against my will if I might add and worse still she laughed and laughed making it hard to remain dignified. It was a standing joke in my house for ages and it didn’t stop me from trying to run away again and again. I got smarter each time; the second time I remembered to take one naira and the last slice of bread left over from breakfast, the third time I remembered to leave a note in big sprawling handwriting ‘Dear Mum, dont find me, I’ve run away to daddys ofis!’ Hoping she’d understand this time and let me be. Like I said earlier, daddy was always the good cop! Everytime for reasons unknown to me I never made it past Adamu our trusted mallam. Maybe Mummy had told him not to let me run away but each time I decided that leaving was best, he’d offer me a sweet and cajole me to sit with him for a while and the next thing I knew my mom would be there and she never even tried to conceal her amusement.
A few years later, I was playing police&thief with my neighbor Segun when we walked into a potential death trap. Luckily for me I’d acquired great skill in the art of running coupled with a great pair of legs which were quite gangly at the time and though I’d never be Marion Jones, the fastest woman on earth, I could proudly yell, ‘Catch me if you can’ when making an exit!
So there we were playing police&thief with our siblings and everyone else had long tired of the game save for us, when Segun had a brainwave! One of the neighbors owned a pair of very ferocious alsatian dogs who scared the living daylights out of all the kids in the area so much so that we’d rather stay home than be their supper. In our eyes they were lions and we weren’t Davids just ordinary little boys and girls. What Segun was suggesting was ridiculous. I opened my mouth in disbelief! He actually wanted us to fill up our water guns and go kill the dogs? Now you must understand that these weren’t normal dogs, they were super dogs almost taller than we were and they weren’t chained or in their cages that morning they were locked up in the front veranda of our neighbor’s house. ‘Dont be such a girl’ Segun cajoled, ‘They are locked up and can’t bite us joor’ I hated being called a girl cos I was quite brave and had won all the boys in arm wrestling plus I was taller than Segun and could wield a gun like the best of ’em, so we agreed on a surprise attack, no allies just we& our water-arms. The dogs were enraged and barked like they’d gone mad, running wildly within the confines of their temporary cell and snarling at us as we gave squirt after squirt of H2O when suddenly it happened! Just as we got carried away and started enjoying ourselves and using all the catch phrases from Rambo, one of the dogs pushed the gate and it gave way. Now I have to pause at this period of my writing and scream AHHHHHHHHHH! Now back to my unfortunate tale… We ran for dear life, my ears pounding, my legs taking on a life of their own and taking me out of there as fast as they could muster and then some! As I got to the safety of my house and locked the door, I heard a piercing scream and then a howl. Segun and I had run in opposite directions and now my man was down! I ran shouting to my mother who was waiting for the mechanic to bring back her car and told her about the tragedy that had befallen my dear comrade. I could see him in my mind’s eye, ripped to shreds, gun still in bloodied hand. No sooner had the words ‘dog’ and ‘Segun’ left my mouth that my mom raced as fast as she could down the stairs to the gate. She had to carry Segun on her back to the clinic cos the mechanic was still to show and he was in bad shape. I held his hand throughout, wailing just as loudly as he did and when the nurse finally gave him the injection, I had to be carried out, I was always a sympathetic child, how would Segun know I felt his predicament in my heart if I didn’t cry him a river! His leg was in bad shape but it healed quite nicely and the incident was soon forgotten. The neighbor never apologized, meanie!
As I grew older everytime a problem loomed over me I was given two choices, running shoes or a sword. I only unsheathed my sword after careful assessment of my enemies. If they were smaller or cowering or had obvious weaknesses I showed ’em no mercy but if they were a formidable force I ran not away per say, only to get backup! Backup was usually sought for on my knees and with God on my team and all the arsenal my one man army could muster we were mostly undefeated. I did run a couple of times; not for backup this time, I kid you not but the saying that he who fights and runs away lives to fight another day cannot be over-emphasized!
In secondary school most people knew me as the really nice girl who’d rather suffer in silence than stand for her rights and a lot of girls took advantage but something changed after JSCE. One day I looked myself in the mirror and in my best Clint Eastwood voice said ‘No more Mr Nice guy!’
My classmates didn’t notice my swag first time around but soon they noticed that the sweet girl had been replaced by a no-nonsense girl who hummed Ja Rule’s songs with a straight face and scribbled ride or die on every desk! Anyway my classmate T must have been unaware of the changes cos one fine day at break time after we’d struggled to get the biggest meat pie and the coldest bottle of coke there was a little drama! I’d opened my coke standing right by T and a drop of it fell on her skirt. ‘I’m so so sorry’ Neetah Nice said with an apologetic face. T said nothing and I shrugged and went to my seat. The next thing I knew I was given a bright orange bath sponsored by the Coca-cola company and I looked up in shock, there was T with a self-satisfied smirk on her face. Neetah Nice was shoved aside in my mind and Neetah No-Nonsense stepped out! I retaliated pouring my coke all over her and a part of it splashed on B who was going to return her empty bottle. In a fit of rage much akin to that seen when Agberos fight on the streets of lagos, B smashed her bottle against the wall and looked like she’d stab somebody! I was worse hit and as I stood stunned wondering how I got involved in a bottle fight, someone screamed ‘Anita you’re bleeding!’ I looked at my hand and there were little cuts were I’d been hit by pieces of glass and I asked myself ‘What would Ja Rule do?’ I bounced out of class with as much swagger as I could muster and straight to the bathroom. As I closed the door, I burst into tears. Now that was the real Anita and she was bleeding, I had little cuts everywhere and I bawled like a baby as I cleaned myself up. I wanted my mummy! Fifteen minutes later I returned to the class with a new out look to life. A couple of things changed;
1. I got my respect, I’d become a bad-ass QC girl and along with the respect came girls with crushes! (Don’t ask)
2. I and T became friends and I’m glad to say we still are, nothing brings two girls closer together than wondering which of us is gonna get stabbed!
3. I am pleased to announce that I no longer say ‘What would Ja Rule do?’ I am no longer a thug angel and I will not ride or die but I’m still not totally against the ‘Get rich or die trying’ fad oh!
4. I now know that there ain’t no shame in running from a fight, my tennis shoes are well worn from running but at the same time I’ve used my sword a couple of times for worthy causes!
Pick your battles my dear friends, only a living man can complain when NEPA takes light!
Our people say a live dog is better than a dead lion! Run if you have to and feel free to quote these sayings as you exit the building!
Have a great day peeps! Xoxo 😉