At first you ignore the email announcing an event by the Spanish Embassy because really, it doesn’t take much to become like Kaka who is rumoured to know and attend every single event organized by non Nigerians in Abuja. Especially the ones where there will be white people. Longman says she is trying to get a foreign lover. He can’t even decide if she is straight or lesbian or both. You call him Longman because you find him hilariously gangly. You never say it to his face because you do not know another human being that has absolutely no sense of humour. You recall the day Longman almost drove a pair of scissors into your eye because you asked, laughing, but if you see her at every white event, does that not mean you attend every white event too?
You do not want to be like Longman either.
Miriam texts you to ask if you are going for the Jos Repertory Theatre play at the Hilton. The Shoemakers Wonderful Wife originally written by Frederico Garcia Lorca. You say, you do not know about the play. She forwards you an email. The same one you ignored that had ‘Spanish Embassy’ in the subject line. You see now that it was only sponsored by the Embassy as part of the Spanish Cultural Week in Abuja, so you decide, well, this is one compromise you can make. Yes there will be a whole bunch of white people which means god-forbid, Kaka will be there, but at least you can feel superior to her- because you will be attending a play and she, a white-people event. Sometimes you wonder about your distance to that line, the crossing of which will thrust one into that unholy stigmatized land called racism. But you tell yourself racism is not a bloody noun. It is a verb and secret thoughts do not count. If no actions are taken, then there is no racism. Or something like that.
You walk in a few minutes after the play begins. Almost all the black people are seated behind or standing, while the brown and white people occupy the front seats. The joke about black people having never watched the first five minutes of any film in a cinema because they are always late comes back to you. It is not funny this time.
The play is about a young woman married to an older shoemaker who before the unfortunate union had lived a peaceful, rewarding life. He peppers his monologues with curses on his sister who is to blame for him picking a wife in his old age. Scene after scene, the sharp, uncouth wife badgers and bullies him and makes him a laughing stock in the community. Soon he gets fed up and disappears. The cantankerous wife is then remorseful and expresses undying affection for him to the strangers who seek her now abandoned hand. He hears of this remorse while disguised as a clown on a road show in the village he abandoned. As soon as he reveals his identity however, she resumes making his life hell. The young wife has as her sole mission in life, tormenting her husband and showing ingratitude. Until the end of the play the women have no redeeming quality.
If this was a Nigerian or African play, someone would have complained about it being sexist, promoting misogyny and other similar latter-day arguments. But it was written by a Spaniard. And here at least, Europeans do no wrong.
The wine served afterward washes down the bitterness the play left in your mouth. Maybe it was cool when Lorca wrote it, but you think it was a horrible play, brilliantly produced and performed by this company from Jos. You shake hands with the actors, sincerely meaning the praise you give.
You see Kaka. Subconsciously you keep moving so you don’t run into her. You would rather be eaten up by a wild pig than compared to her or caught in her company. As she walks toward you, you gulp what is left of the second glass of wine and head for the door. Just in case she would notice you and call out your name, you whip out your phone and pretend to be receiving a call.
On your way home, you feel bad. You hope Kaka didn’t notice you running away from her. You tell yourself that next time, (preferably not at a goddamn white event) you will walk up to her and say hello. It makes you feel better at least.