A current spate of occurrences in the country reminds me of a long forgotten story, starring the teenage version of yours truly.
In my secondary school, when I was a teenager, we had this interesting teacher. He was a firebrand religious man belonging to one of those strict sin, hell, holiness kind of congregations.
I can’t quite remember his name so I’ll call him Mr. DL.
Mr. DL habitually gathers a number of us on a regular basis to treat us to his brand of terror. He would threaten us with hell, frighten us with witches and demons. If Mr. DL’s goal was to cultivate a thriving group of paranoid and disdainful teenagers, he certainly outdid himself.
I was so paranoid that one day I saw a bug, cockroach, and tried to kill it but it must have crawled somewhere I couldn’t get to. Rather than grab an insecticide and spray the darn thing off the face of the earth, being a Mr. DL loyal disciple, I concluded the cockroach disappeared into thin air and that I had just survived an attack from one of those gory witches Mr. DL was always raving about.
I couldn’t wait to tell Mr. DL about it.
The next day, I rushed off to school excited. I got to my class and behold, another fabulous twist to my witch attack survival.
Dorothy my classmate and former friend before my conversion had her two wrists swollen and she was holding them gingerly.
The shocking thing is that her wrists were just fine a day earlier. Yes! This must be the witch who attacked me as a cockroach, I thought. I triumphed by breaking her wrists. I must inform Mr. DL immediately.
I flew off to Mr. DL’s office and reported my findings. To the joy of my teenage self and dismay of my now adult self, Mr. DL summoned Dorothy before us and accused her of being a witch who turned into a cockroach and attacked her classmate at her home the night before.
In retrospect, I have no clue how we all acted out this stupid drama with a straight face.
Dorothy denied the allegations vehemently, explaining that she sustained the injury whilst she was being beaten at home.
Dorothy was someone’s foster child and the wounds on her hands were clearly defensive injuries. She must have held up her hands to protect her face or ward off her attacker and got injured. Of course, fanatical teenage me didn’t know this. Adult me can excuse myself. Adult me is however appalled that a grown man and a teacher could not recognize that a child was being physically abused. Rather, he made matters worse by adding emotional, mental and spiritual abuse to the girl’s woes by accusing her of turning into a cockroach to attack his brainwashed protege.
Mr. DL would not let Dorothy off so easily. He threatened, bullied, cajoled, tried everything to get a confession out of her. A very distraught Dorothy stood by her story.
Finally, Mr. DL, ably assisted by his teenage fanatic, subjected Dorothy to a lengthy session of prayers and demon-casting exercise.
I was reminded of this story by the recent spate of lynchings over missing genitals.
Can you imagine if Dorothy and I were both market women and I yelled out my accusation before a crowd? Her battered hands are all the proof a bunch of ignorants need to lynch the poor girl to death.
What is it that makes us accept and act on the seemingly unacceptable?
I have seen law enforcement agents on video extracting confessions from genital thieves. Like Mr. DL, you would think that these ones by virtue of their training and positions would know better.
Dorothy, if you stumble on this piece, I truly apologize for my part in your teenage nightmare on that day. I hope life got easier for you and that you achieved your dreams.
I confess and declare that I was wrong and misguided. You were not a witch then. I certainly hope you didn’t become one later. That’s a joke.