Thursday, 5 January 2017

Sarah's Corner: How I Was Wrongly Accused And Almost Devoured By Angry Mob!

It was a beautiful Saturday morning, or so I thought, as I headed for the local market. As usual, I boarded a public bus, arrived at the local market and headed for the provision store. I had bought all I wanted and was about leaving, when all of a sudden, a middle age woman, I didn't know from Adam, griped my dress and accused me of buying tomatoes and fresh pepper worth N7000 from her on credit. According to her, I came with my elder sister to purchased the said items, months ago, with the promise to pay subsequently but that was the last she saw of me and my sister.
I was dumbfounded. At first, I thought it was one big joke. Like, are you for real? But the woman was knee bent on embarrassing me or worst. She held me tight and threatened not to let go or else I paid the money.

First, I don't have an elder sister. I am my parents' first daughter and secondly, I could swear I had no idea what she was talking about. What will I been doing with tomatoes and fresh pepper worth N7000?

'Madam, leave me alone joor. I no know you. No be me buy tomatoes from you,' I barked.

'You dey mad. You think say I no go recognize you abi? I done talk say any day wey I caught you or that your ugly sister, una must pay me that money. Today na the day."

"What rubbish. Isn't it obvious you have the wrong person? Madam respect yourself and remove your hand from my shirt."

She drew me closer, held me even tighter and said; "Who dey talk rubbish? Na your mama na you dey insult...."

"Madam, I never insult you. And you better leave my shirt if you no want insult. Wetin be all this one now?"

The next thing I heard was a sound. I don't know if it was a punch or a slap but it fell on my left cheek and eye. It was hot, deafening and blinding. And for the first time, it came home to me — I was in a real mess.

I didn't know weather to cry or retaliate. A voice from behind caught my attention. The woman I had bought provisions from was quarreling with the woman who held me. "Why you go slap her like that? If na your pickin dem slap like that you go like am?"

"This girl na thief," the tomatoes seller fired back at the other woman. "She and her sister buy tomatoes from me on credit, they come disappear."

"You sure say na the girl be this?"

"I be small pickin? Na she be this. I no go fit forget this face lai lai,” she added.

This is ridiculous I kept saying to myself. How could she be so sure even when she had the wrong person?

"Madam no be me buy tomatoes from you, abi you deaf? I no get elder sister. Wetin I wan use tomatoes and pepper of N7000 take do?" but the question is just as useless as it comes. Anyone could use tomatoes and pepper. And anyone could deny anything.

Just than, I noticed a small crowd had already gathered around us. The hubbub was so loud, it's impossible to hear anything else. I could feel their eyes all over me. It was so sharp, it cut deep into my skin. I didn't dare look around. I just stood there perplexed.

A slender man came out of the crowd and ordered her to leave me alone. "Make she no go run o. She must pay me my money today, I no go gree...." She said.

"She no go run," the man assured her. "Where she was run go self?" He asked. "No be that her tiny legs?" someone added mockery from the crowd. And there was roar of laughters. It was the most embarrassing day of my life.

The laughters soon petered with some saying I should just pay the money and save myself the embarrassment. But wouldn't that mean I am guilty? Besides, it's not like N7000 is N70. Where would I get the money from? I had none with me.

"Oh girl, where your elder sister? Why una no come pay this woman her money?" it wasn't the slender man talking, it was another woman, probably a friend to the tomatoes seller. I couldn't believe it. She didn't even asked me if I was the one. What bollocks!

Well I didn't have to answer. The slender man did. "Madam, why you dey talk like that? What if no be this small girl (yea, I get that all the time) na buy tomatoes from her?"

"Oga no dey look her size o. All this people way get small body can do undo," the tomatoes seller retorted.

It was galling standing there and being accused of something I know nothing about.

"If you sure say na she, make una give us chance make we beat back her memory," a guy said. And this too aroused some laughters.

"She must remember by fire by force," another guy said.

"Make una no go kill person because of N7000 o. I no dey o."

"Abi? See as the girl dey self. She be like person way never chop for months."

And on and on, the gossip went. "Oga, no be me. I no even get elder sister," I finally found my voice.

All the while, the tomatoes seller was busy telling everyone who cared to listen, how I supposedly came with my elder sister to buy tomatoes and fresh pepper from her on credit. She said she was even lucky to had ran into me that day.

"Carry her go police station. Maybe if she see police she go talk truth," said one the the women she was chatting with.

Just than, I remembered my phone was in my bag and I could use some calls. I dialed my mom's number and someone said, 'make una wait. She wan call her sister."

I ignored the mockery and ridiculousness and told my mother what was happening. She in turn called my elder brother, who came to the market with some of his friends. It happened that they were actually closed by.

As soon as they came, the story changed. Someone from the crowd finally said she knew me. That I always shop at the market. My mom also called a relative of hers who sell at the market. She came and said there was no way that I could have bought something on credit and than go around to deny it. But the tomatoes seller insisted it was me and my elder sister.

My elder brother asked her if she was sure, she said she has never been so sure of anything else. My brother said we all should go to the nearest police station. She agreed at first, but later said her son was also there when I and my sister bought the tomatoes. She was asked to call the son, who came and told the mother that I don't even look anything like the said girl. She had totally mistaken me for someone else.

And the next thing I heard was "sorry o, no vex. Oya dey go." Go where? Not after the embarrassment and that slap....OMG! I no dey go like that.

Just than, my elder brother seized the woman. Said she must come with him to the police station. If she thought she can just hold anyone, accused them of buying stuffs from her on credit, dragged and even slapped them, than turn around to walk away, she had another thing coming.

I never knew how people's opinion could change in a blink of an eye until that day. The same crowd that was mocking me a few minutes before had turned around to mock the same woman they were supporting earlier.

"So eye dey pain this woman. She get problem with her sight na she come dey make noise, dey dragged innocent person."

"Na so this woman dey like to dey show herself." And blah blah blah.

For the first time, I stared at everyone of them. Some I even knew because I patronize them. I thought I saw a hint of remorse in some, but...I am not sure. Not that it mattered, anyways.

She and some other market people begged me and my brother to forget and let sleeping dog lay. We all had been wrong at something, at one point or the other in our lives. It could be anyone. Forgiving is priceless!

And so I left the market in company of my brother and his friends. It took a while, before I was able to get over it. One thing I can never take out of my head is how easy it is to be accused and even punished for something you know nothing about. I could have been beaten or worst.

Have you ever been wrongly accused? How does it feel like? Share your experience with us in the comment section

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