I did not realize Frank Mba, the Force Public Relations Officer for the Nigerian Police, would call me out. I did not know setting out this week that I would so perfectly fit the non-specific profile for people who engage in suicide bombing. Until I read his blog. The italicized sentences are lifted directly from his blog titled "How To Identify a Suicide Bomber".
He behaves in a way similar to someone with no future.
Sometimes I behave similar to one with no future because I do not see any future with myself and Nigeria in it. Not with the things I see and hear. Not with the brazenness with which my country’s leaders make things disappear. So yes, in complete disregard for my future I have refused to get a job. Because I love to write at night and sleep all morning. I love ice-cream even though I have recently discovered I am lactose intolerant- which is a thing I thought was a white disease until I fell sick after taking a tin of milk. I am addicted to Vodka and Red Bull, both of which are dangerous for me because of my weak heart. I shouldn’t even be drinking at all. I only recently stopped smoking, not because of my health, but because my teeth have begun to crack and in this life three things petrify me the most: having children, going blind, and losing my teeth.
His mental state could present clues – his eyes are secretive, he makes obvious attempt to avoid eye contact with the people he perceived to be his enemies and always looking at every possible exit.
Staring. I have struggled with this over the years. It has landed me in much trouble because I used to love looking into people’s eyes. But after three women (and one man) claimed that I had initiated flirting, I stopped. Even my friends agree that I have a flirtatious gaze. So these days I just avoid eye contact altogether.
Also, I am claustrophobic. So the first thing my eyes scan for upon entering a room is the exit. I am all about exits. There is something about being able to quickly leave a room which comforts me. I like to leave when I feel breathless, when someone says something annoying and there is no way for me to say my mind, when the room is too cold, when the room is too hot, or when I still smoked, to have a smoke.
Mumbling prayers – may be fervently praying to himself, showing the impression of whispering to someone else.
I was religious once in my life. Now, I am so detached from religion people assume I am an atheist. But this is incorrect. I cannot bring myself to believe in evolution and other big-bangy things. Again, if you fly in Nigerian airspace or drive on Nigerian roads, you have to be at least temporarily religious. So yes, once I am airborne, I mumble fervently, praying that the engineers did their job and that no one was bribed to let a faulty plane fly.
Sometimes also I just talk to myself. I find this helps me relax and helps me remember when I am in a place with nothing to write down an idea that has just come to me. However, we have cases of mental illness in my family. I have a close aunt who has lived with mental illness for a long time- she mumbles to herself. I often wonder if I just like doing it or if this mumbling is a symptom of something more sinister.
He shows no response to any authoritative voice, command or instruction.
I resent commands or authoritative instructions. It is the reason that I cannot stand the army. It is also the reason I do not see myself doing a 9-5. I quit my first job in a cool law firm I was emotionally invested in because my then boss, shouted at me. Upon entering my office I cleared out my desk, signed a check for one month’s salary and emailed her my resignation letter.
He wears slack or puffy clothes. This gives the impression that his body is excessively larger than his head or feet.
So, I am ashamed to say this but the last time I weighed myself I was 106.5kg. My thighs look like elephant legs and rub against each other. The body fitting clothes I used to wear are no longer appropriate. So I wear size 40 trousers instead of 38 which is my actual waist size. Comfort over fashion.
He appears to be focused and more vigilant on his target.
Because I get distracted easily I tend to need more energy to focus. It makes me look funny.
He will usually have his hands placed in the pocket, around the button of the detonator and ready to set off the bomb at the slightest opportunity.
When I am nervous I put my hands in my pocket. I am not sure it helps but it hides my trembling hands.
He may most likely have a clean shave or low hair-cut especially when he is ready to carry out the task. This may be done to disguise his real appearance.
Everyone who knows me knows that I am always clean shaven. In fact I shave all of my pubic hair. I cut the hair on my head on the average every 4 days. If I go more than 4 days I get a massive headache and become very irritable.
His breathings are heavy and rapid.
Due to my lack of exercise, I am just a lazy sack of potatoes most times. After a short distance I am panting. When I used to smoke it was worse.
He walks awkwardly or clumsily in an unusual and odd manner.
I have been clumsy for as long as I can remember. I kick things and break things. Growing up I didn’t take it seriously until I realized that as an adult I was as clumsy as I was as a child. A friend of mine gave me a book about dyspraxia a few years ago and if this book is anything to go by, I most certainly have the condition. One of the major symptoms of dyspraxia in adults is poor motor coordination skills, characterized by clumsy gait and movement, difficulty changing direction, stopping and starting actions, and poor balance. But then this is Nigeria. Who do you tell, I have dyspraxia? People just call you clumsy or lazy or forgetful. One day if I spend enough time abroad, I will see a doctor.
He looks aggressive, restless, irritable and nervous.
Another set of symptoms of dyspraxia, which I have had for as long as I can remember is easily getting stressed, depressed, anxious, impulsive and/or erratic. I cannot sit still for long and have to rock my legs continuously. My mother used to wonder why I could never sit still. She used to say, in the living room that my movements were making her eye ‘turn’. I have learnt to deal with my irritation and restlessness by avoiding people in those moments. I am also teaching my lover to deal with it by explaining beforehand that I am irritated and do not want to be touched. It is difficult, but slowly, my lover is getting it.
Often times, he may not know the route to his target destination very well, hence he may occasionally ask for directions.
I am horrible with directions. When someone tries to describe a place to me I tell them not to bother because really, there is no point. I just ask them to email or text me the directions with landmarks and all. When I get to the area, I ask for directions. I find that often I have to ask many people because some are just too proud to say I don’t know and give you rubbish directions.
He will usually have an unusual herbal smell. This is as a result of incense used in the final rituals performed on him as he takes off for the suicide mission.
I hated incense as a child because we had neighbors I was afraid of who used incense, and so I associated it with witchcraft. These days I love it. Especially the combined smell of incense and tobacco. It makes me feel like I am in some Arabian palace getting a full body massage. Whoever thought of incense should get a Nobel Prize for peace methinks.
Ps. I just think that Frank should have done the honorable thing. He should have invited me to Force Headquarters to ask me if I was going to blow up anything, instead of exposing me to mob violence in this roundabout way of speaking. This is not what Jesus died for.