Monday, November 17, 2014

In Defence of The Bad Man

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By Onyinye Orabuike

Back in my university days in Zaria, I had chance on a horrifying scene; three armed robbers had just been lynched.

They were healthy young men, unclad bodies strewn across the busy road in varied unsightly death postures, each in a pool of his blood. They had been thoroughly beaten and later shot.  Motorists and cyclists tried to avoid driving over the bodies as they manoeuvred their vehicles past.

Spectators were gesticulating and talking in rapid hurried voices. Bus conductors and transporters were hooting and calling out to one another. Traders and market women who own shops around the arrear were gathered in groups, talking at the top of their voices, whilst, watching out for the arrival of the police. They were ecstatic.  It was gathered that those were the same bunch of hoodlum that had been terrorising the town in the past months. I recall wondering if the mothers of these ill fated young men were around, maybe by a corner somewhere, and if they share this sentiment, because I didn't.

I told myself that these animals had mothers, surely they do, and that on the day they were born, people rejoiced that it was a boy, and that party was thrown for their naming ceremony. I knew that those men, if really they were robbers, deserve the fate they got, if not worse. I understand the pain of losing hard earned money and properties to heartless thieves, I know how ruthless and terrible they get, and I could only imagine the agony of losing a loved one in the hands of rogues.  But as I left that scene, I wasn’t sure I saw   justice, though there may have been one. I wasn’t seeing victory of good over evil or good riddance. I saw the dignity of life so ridiculed. I saw the dream and hopes of mothers dashed. I saw loved one mortified, disgraced and heartbroken. I saw destinies destroyed. I saw something else, the reason I am pushed to write this piece. I found I was disturbed by the depth of hate displayed by good men.

I was sad that life has come to mean so little. I was sad about the debased youths who had allowed their cruel minds to be so distorted as to destroy their own destiny. But the realization that human beings generally have no love was much more saddening.   I always hold the opinion that criminals suffer more than their victims as I imagine guilt alone to be enough punishisment for anyone. I was, and still of the belief that they are victims of their own wickedness and should be pitied not despised.  Until now, I have been careful to keep my not so popular view of life to myself, except when in the midst of friends.

My strange empathy for the guilty has been questioned not once. The first time was when I came across a newspaper story of a fourteen years boy whose genital was cut off for rituals. The suspect, his twenty something years old neighbour lured the little boy into the bush, cut off his genital and left him there to bleed to death.  The severing of the penis was done with the little boy still conscious and all through the time pleading for mercy. It was either the little boy possessed some uncommon survival trait or there was a direct interference of the power from above because on waking up from a faint a few hours later, the little boy crawled all the way to the road where a passerby reportedly found him all bloodied and unconscious. Summery he survived , told his story and  the criminal was apprehended.

If he  had not survived I may have promptly surmised that he was no longer feeling any pain  and as such may not need as much sympathy as  the suspect who would continue to suffer from guilt and condemnation for the rest of his life. But looking at the little boy that lay on the hospital bed with tubes attached to different places in his body, I saw a creature who having fought and defied death would live to face a fate worse than death. I saw a destiny cut short, a young man that would never enjoy sexual relationship, have a family or live a normal life. He would have nightmares for the rest of his live. I wondered how anyone could be this hideous and I didn’t know who should have my sympathy this time.

 I will also never forget the mug shot of the depraved youth. They took a picture of him holding out the mutilated genital on his hands for the camera.  He told the reporter’s t that the native doctor paid him hundred thousand naira to procure the male organ. He was yet to collect a hundred thousand naira balance promised him. Incredible! I saw a soul that is closed out in hell for the rest of his life. He has by his own hand closed the universe against himself and became the first miserable victim of his vile conscience.

Nobody will ever love him again, I daresay, not even he could forgive himself such a monstrous deed. But because love is unconditional, I find myself time and again wondering what will be going in his mind in that lonely dark cell. Because I know nobody will ever care for him, not even the members of his family, find myself from time to time whispering a few prayers for his soul.

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