Most of us have partaken in the mindless enjoyment of reality television. And not just any reality TV. We constantly tune in to watch the likes of 1000 Ways to Die, Most Daring, Most Shocking, World’s Most Amazing Videos, World’s Funniest Videos and my ultimate favourite of them all, The Smoking Gun Presents (now Tru TV Presents) World’s Dumbest.
They are usually a collection of videos ranging from the severely unlucky to the unbelievably stupid. World’s Dumbest, for instance categorizes them with various themes. Sometimes they have Dumbest Partiers, Dumbest Drivers, Dumbest Criminals et cetera. Then they have one that is a special class of dumb. A group of people so foolish that they take use fists, flails and kicks to solve their problems. They call them Dumbest Brawlers. I call them idiots. Or at least, I used to.
These people would get so drunk or so enraged that the only solution to their disagreements is bringing their enemies a world of hurt. Or at least they try to. I would laugh at their antics, then judge them later wondering how they couldn’t know any better and questioning whether their mothers used daddy’s belt on them often enough. But after recently almost succumbing to the urge, I had to wonder, is it really so dumb to fight?
The only thing we are encouraged to fight is laziness, illness and other social injustices like wife inheritance. The idea that an educated person would resort to a war of the limbs is something that confounds the profound. I used to be of this elite group of thinkers who thought physical violence was beneath them. The closest I had come to engaging was when my boyfriend asked me to briefly try Grand Theft Auto. And then, this happened-
It was a regularly chilly grey July Saturday morning. I was meeting a friend to go on a road trip to Kinangop. I had to meet him at Uthiru town and so had to get a matatu to connect me there. The matatus were lined up at the stage waiting for eager commuters to go supply their cavernous bellies. I boarded one that seemed innocuous enough and just sat there while it dawdled.
Unfortunately, my friend called me telling me that he had already arrived at our rendezvous point and was getting fed up of waiting. Understanding how impatient he was getting, I promised to get there as fast as I could. Since the matatu I was in wasn’t filling up anyway, I decided to alight and board one of those hasty ones where people hang off the seats.
As I was going to get out, one of the touts decided to bar my way. Considering how awkward our matatus are, you can’t stand while disembarking off of one. You either sit at the seat next to the door and slide out or bend and jump out. And this guy was hanging off the jamb and he wouldn’t let me slide out.
True to Nairobi fashion, the other few passengers in the car glanced at the situation with mild disinterest then went back to their phones. I kept hitting the tout’s torso with my bag, my hands, and my feet meanwhile yelling at him to give me way. They guy then told me- with a voice that sounded like a drunken hyena’s that had its vocal cords boiled in battery acid- to just calm down. I yelled at the driver to either set off or make this man let me leave. The driver then decided to call his compatriot and finally, we left. The asshole blocking the door slapped my knee telling me to leave drama for my mama.
I was so incensed that I almost alighted to go start a fight with him. And for a while, I thought of even going back later and pouring kerosene all over him and threatening him with an industrial grade lighter. Or I could have gotten his name and sent a very suspicious coded email to a terrorist organisation’s social media account and have him unceremoniously picked up by an unknown intelligence agency that would drop him in some unidentified pit of hell where he would be interrogated to death. All kinds of scenarios ran through my mind all of them resulting in his untimely death. I was at the point of considering consultation with a mganga to have him turned into a flea infested mongrel upon reincarnation.
The anger festooned my mind’s eye with outrageous thoughts of retaliation for costing me my dignity and making my temper boil. I was mad at him for making me mad. My rage cooled somewhat but a few things still bothered me.
When I was free of all thoughts of criminal setup, I was left with the sobering thought that I had hated being weak. I had hated being helpless. I had hated being unable to get myself out of a matatu where only a reed thin man who looked like a twig about to snap blocked the door. I hated it all. And that left me with the strong conviction that sometimes, sometimes, it’s alright to raise your fists to some bastard’s face. If only for the sake of your ego.
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