I had just returned to my seat from a tea break at a formal event I attended recently. This fellow attendee had taken the seat next to the one beside me. COVID-19 prevention measures had prompted the organisers of the event to urge participants to leave a free seat beside them to ensure adequate spacing. The stranger said hello and I returned the greeting. As I settled in, he announced that he had watched me as I made my into the hall and thought I was pretty. I smiled and muttered a thank you. But the conversation did not end there.
Sometimes, I think we (living in these times) are the luckiest bunch of people since the history of mankind began. At other times, I am not so sure and long for the simpler times when the internet did not exist. Times when there weren’t so many opinions flying around cyberspace; when things were subtler and saner. It’s a ruckus these days; a big, fat whirlwind featuring compulsive showoffs, faux intellectuals, cantankerous characters, and relentless rabble-rousers jostling for prominence on and offline. And as exciting as it is, it gets overwhelming all too often.
The reaction to Tope Alabi’s gaffe confirmed my belief yet again that to presume one has loyal friends in the virtual community is by far one of the most naive notions one can possess. People wear a different cloak where they are not physically present, so the genial Janet you converse with at the social club morphs into a savage ogre once she logs into her Instagram account.
The year that shook us our core. The year that made us reevaluate our beliefs and life choices. The year where plans went to nought and the need to stay alive trumped every other need. Stating that the year 2020 has been an unusual year would be an understatement. It’s been a gruelling year; one characterised by an avalanche of bad news. Many deaths recorded…many families thrown into mourning, jobs lost, economies in shambles. As 2020 grinds to a halt within the next two weeks, it’s instructive that we do not forget the lessons it taught us. I have chosen to share mine in this post.
We need to demystify death. That trepidation and awe we feel when we think about the concept of death is not doing us plenty of good. In particular, the idea that once a person dies, they assume a god-like status that forbids the living from criticising them is ludicrous. It makes little sense because memories are what they are and cannot be twisted or erased on account of a person’s demise. The controversy around this issue often comes to the fore when a prominent person—usually a politician or government official—dies. As soon as the news filters to the public, opinions on how well they lived while on this side are divided.
He was on board a plane when turbulence hit. It wasn’t the more common moments of instability that last a few minutes. The aircraft bopped around for too long; long enough for passengers to get jittery. Soon enough, the forced calm, frantic gazes and whispered prayers mutated progressed to stifled shrieks and vocal prayers to higher powers. It was a local flight, which made things worse. No matter how often one flew and arrived safely, they still boarded flights with some measure of trepidation. For many, the heart-shattering images from the ruins of aircraft crashes remain etched in their memory.
I had made a Facebook post about the former Chelsea player, Diego Costa sharing a striking resemblance in looks and temperament with the fictional comic character, Captain Haddock of the Adventures of TinTin series fame. It was an epiphany I thought to put out just as it hit me. A few minutes later, I got a notification that someone had responded to my post. It was a random Facebook friend. He commented with something along the lines of asking me to leave Chelsea alone since I was a Manchester United fan.
The feat is reminiscent of the one recorded 18 years ago when Agbani Darego became the first native African to win the Miss World Beauty pageant. The ecstasy and frenzied excitement that followed Zozibini Tunzi’s victory at the 2019 installment of the Miss Universe competition is understandable, This time around, it’s not just a black woman clinching the coveted crown, it’s a black woman with short, natural hair beating more than 90 other women whom society would have considered a better semblance of acceptable beauty in the modern world.
Individual mystery is getting scarcer by the day. Our lives are an open book because it is no longer fashionable to keep mum on one’s activities. The virtual community continues to prompt us to share— and we succumb— letting friends and foes alike into everything that defines our essence. Gone are the days when circumspection was an unwritten rule. The times when one made moves in silence are long forgotten, and though some people still hold onto the holy grail of a life void of incessant displays, these lots are a negligible percentage.