MEN ON GREEN(short story)

What I am about to narrate to you is equivalent to the biblical story of how God saved Daniel from the lion’s den, but just that in my own case, my own lions walked on two legs, and wore the Nigerian military uniform. If you don’t already know, I am talking about the Nigerian army.

Another huge contrast between my own story and that of Daniel is that I was the person who threw myself to the lions. I play both the role of Daniel, and king Darius.

Yes I know I am foolish, don’t remind me.

Funny enough, my name is also Daniel, and my story goes as follows.

I grew up realizing I was not like other kids in a lot of ways. My parents were really wealthy, and I was the only kid I know, whose parents’ wealth didn’t fetch him fame, or even respect among his peers, and as if things couldn’t get worse, I was also generally unattractive.

Though nobody told me this to my face, I just knew that I was unattractive, and I actually told myself to my face, after the mirror told me. You mirrors don’t lie.

There are many reasons I could think of that made me outstandingly unattractive, but the most dominant of them all was the fact that I had this type of protruding teeth that made my mouth to  be unable to close voluntarily. Whenever I consciously shut my mouth, (because closing my mouth was something that needed all my focus to achieve) and looked at myself in the mirror, what I saw was a perfect specimen of a still evolving chimpanzee.Men in green .jpg

You think I am over exaggerating to make you laugh? Wait till you see me in person.

If I really had the guts, I believe I could have made enough money by offering to be displayed in medical laboratories, where the pay would be according to how long they wanted to keep me

Ladies and gentlemen of this prestigious medical school, I want to introduce to you today’s specimen, on which we would carry out the experiment to propound our hypothetical theory that states that the first chimpanzee was originally a human being that suffered a terrible heart break that caused severe damage to his sensory motors, pushing him into taking a place in wildlife.I understood that reference.jpg

If you think I just wrote rubbish, so be it. For one, I’m not even a science student, and for two, it’s only he that wears the shoe, that knows where it hurts, but if you want a hint on where it hurts, just know this: it hurts all over

As I grew older, my teeth made me lose a lot of self-esteem, and I always felt like people judged me first based on the shape of my teeth, and not by the content of my brain.

I never blamed them though; they were probably always innocently staring at my mouth and wondering what was inside. I do wonder the same thing at times.

Adding to this dilemma I was born with, I had an unexplained fascination with cartoons that I refused to let go of, even as I moved into the adolescent stage of my life. It was not even like these cartoons were the generally accepted ones like batman, or avatar; I’m talking about the weird cartoons like telletobies, Sponge Bob square pants, and the personal weirdest of all: Barbie.

Yes, even at teenage age as a guy, I was still addicted to the Barbie cartoon, and even Barney the dinosaur, and for a teenage boy that should have moved on to scoping Barbie like girls in reality, it was just absurd.

Personally, I didn’t think any Nigerian girl could ever meet the standards of Barbie, so maybe that was why I never tried.

Perhaps Barbie gave me a false idea of what a dream girl should be like. Wait. Isn’t this weird?  Why am I talking like I have a list of girl preferences I can choose from? Am I not the guy who is famously unpopular? Or have I ever heard of a beggar who gave people a criterion if they wanted to drop money for him?

Yes please, don’t drop twenty naira notes except you are dropping five of them to make it hundred. I usually don’t collect fifty naira notes but it is okay all the same, if you are giving one thousand naira notes, drop it in the bowl on my left alongside your phone number and house address so I can hit you up later and we could talk.

Weird right?

Despite all this pitiable challenges of mine, I completed my secondary school education as a social outcast, and soon university had come knocking on my door.

University:

The world of opportunities

The world where you could fit in somewhere, anywhere.

The world where at least one girl would eventually have a crush on you.

The world where people from all around the globe gathered, so you should be able to meet someone just like you, at least one person.

WRONG. WRONG. WRONG.

I didn’t know my case was very bad until I got to the university, and other people who were also social outcasts, rejected me as well.  It was like a wretched beggar looking down on another beggar, because the other beggar wasn’t in the same league as he. That should give you an idea of how bad my case was.

I had my pockets well loaded with money, but nobody wanted to spend it with me. What could have happened to the good old saying that money answered everything?

It didn’t take two weeks into the university before I gave up on the idea of friends. Two weeks of constant obvious rejection was enough for me to realize that I couldn’t make friends.

My loneliness drove me into having an intimate relationship with my books, and so I excelled even more in my academics. Whenever I tried to comfort myself concerning my condition, all I needed to do was to tell myself that I am too busy with my books to be making friends. I actually started to believe that.

Even with my high academic records, I still wasn’t ever chosen to represent the school in any inter competition. There had to something about my teeth that drove people away.

Well, I had started to gradually forget my desire for companionship, when someone remembered I existed, not in the way I would have wanted though.

My university was going for another inter school drama competition, and this  time whoever had scripted the drama had created a role that no cool teenager in his normal senses would take up.

The role of the jester

By jester, I mean the character that was supposed to induce uncontrollable laughter into the audience, but his means of inducing this laughter was where the problem was. He had to induce this laughter by making a fool of himself.

My university had a way of making people’s temporal character for any play follow them off stage, and into their normal lives, and this was why role casting was taken seriously by every actor and actress

Simply put, the girl who acted as the flirt would automatically be considered a flirt in real life, and the handsome dude in a play would instantly become every girl’s heartthrob once the play was over. It was as a result of this that people chose roles that they didn’t mind going by in real life, and nobody wanted to be the stupid one in real life.

Hours turned into days, and days turned into weeks and yet none of the drama crew members were willing to take up the role of the jester. Whatever happened to the game changers of the society?

With the absence of anybody to fill in that role, the whole script had to be re written, and this was about to happen before somebody, whom I don’t still know if she was making fun of me or really trying to help, suggested that I play that part. It was a like a veil had suddenly dropped from everyone’s eye, and I could imagine them saying to themselves,

“How could we have been looking for someone to act stupid, when we’ve had a naturally stupid guy on this campus with us all along?”

They fetched me from my closet, and convinced me to act that part, which wasn’t hard, because for one as you’ve probably figured out by now, I lack public shame, and secondly, the fact that somebody wanted me to be relevant, even if it was in a stupid way, had a strong appeal to me, and so I agreed.

The first day on stage for me was bigger than anything I would have ever dreamed of.

Halfway through me acting out that role, everybody was fascinated by how well I could deliver stupidity, and they basically stood in awe as I performed.

This might sound weird, but girls actually gathered around me, and cooed and applauded and asked me how I was able to deliver so well, and it felt very good to me, even though I have now realized those praises were in actual sense, mockery.

The day for the big presentation came, and I took my school to new heights when I performed incredulously on stage, and sent an audience of over ten big schools rolling to the floor with laughter, thereby causing us to win the competition with nobody being a match to our performance, and after then, things changed big time for me.

The first thing that happened was that I began to receive invitations from other drama groups for me to be a member, and then invitations for solo performances followed. I never knew someone could make it in life by acting foolish, but here I was beginning to do just that.

Acting foolish in one play revealed my talent to me, and soon I discovered that it was acting in general that was my talent, and I could fit into any role and deliver it perfectly…maybe not every role though, as you never saw the role of that hot play boy being cast to that black boy with the big teeth and cocky personality, but o well.

My acting powers fetched me fame, and every theater group I joined automatically made me their star and increased my pay, and when we organized concerts or went for performances, the event had to have my name highlighted in order to gather large audience. I was that good.

The money came too, but that had never been a problem so I didn’t bother with that, it was just the popularity and the fame that blew my mind.

By fame, I meant that girls no longer snubbed me; they drooled over me, gushing about how good I could act, and begging for autographs and stuffs like that, and this time it wasn’t mockery. It was real fan love.

Halfway through a drama and I stepped on stage to take on my role, which was usually very funny ones, the audience immediately began to yell in a frenzy, and o boy did it excite me. Wasn’t it amazing how this boy suddenly went from having twenty something followers on Instagram, to tens of thousands of followers?

Now I know you have probably forgotten that my story is supposed to be about my encounter with the Nigerian army, because you are enjoying my miserable life so much right now, but then let’s fast forward to that part of the story of my life.

If you would recall, I was still in school despite all this fame and all, and back in school, a new crowd of teenagers were looking for me; The popular ones.

I wasn’t popular by looks, but I was popular by my acting skills and so other popular cliques sought after me because they would it would increase their reps if I was in their crew, and soon I was rolling with this crowd of people, people I had never envisioned being close to in my entire life.

This group of people were the ones who flaunted money constantly, bought the latest clothing, renovated their rooms to be with the latest furniture and interior decoration, and drove in the latest cars. This wasn’t a problem for me, because the money pumped in by my parents that had now doubled because of how proud they were of me doing something with my life, and the money that came from my career was more than enough to afford all this things and even more.

The problem came from constantly moving to attend different parties where my presence was highly exalted, AND THEN keeping up tabs with some certain “nonsenses”.

This “nonsenses” were my problem.

I didn’t know why it made us cool to know how much all celebrity shoes and clothes costs, which celebrity was dating which celebrity, what texture of hair Nicki Minaj was using, how much Lil Wayne’s daughter’s birthday cost, the latest celebrity feuds, the relationship status between Wizkid and Davido, what the launching date of the new cloth line was, and what was the update on fashion trends, but we did them anyway, and soon I realized it was a part of the fast life that I just had to get used to.

All of this was my headache, but I didn’t mind so much as far as it kept my new circle.

Back to how exactly I was beaten by the police.

It was on a random party night when I was supposed to headline an all-night party somewhere in town that disaster struck. I remember looking through my wardrobe and searching for which clothe to wear when I saw this really cool camouflage that a girl named Helen had bought for me. I don’t even remember where I met that girl, but I definitely curse the day I met her.

Now among my new circle of friends, camouflage had an aura of respect that it attracted. It was only the bravest of hearts that wore it, knowing fully well what it would mean if they got caught and couldn’t escape. If you are not a Nigerian reading this and you’re wondering what I mean, look for any Nigerian and ask him to explain the consequences of wearing camouflage in Nigeria if you’re a civilian. I am sure he would most likely start his speech with that dry devilish laughter that signifies doom.

Weeell, I stood in the front of my wardrobe just gazing at this camouflage top for five minutes, a lot of thoughts running through my mind. I remembered those that had previously flexed camouflage clothes and how well they had been adored, and  I also remembered those that had been caught and how they had been beaten and embarrassed, but yet the memories of those that had flaunted it was more enticing than the other memory was frightening. That was when I should have known that devil was in my head, chatting with me.

To cut the long story short, I switched off my inhibitions and put this camouflage on, matched it with black chinos trouser and classic puma sneakers, and sprayed my thousand dollar perfume. What I hadn’t paid attention to was the fact that my undershorts were also coincidentally camouflage patterned  too.

I got into my car after decorating my neck with some heavy gold chains, and zoomed off, playing loud music as was the tradition, and also watching out for the Nigerian military men, not expecting in the least possible that I would move from that boy who heard of boys encountering soldiers while wearing camouflage, to that boy who encountered soldiers wearing a camouflage top, AND… a camouflage undershorts.

Just as I thought I had passed all the places military men could possibly be, and was about to cruise into the highway, I heard a knock on my window and when I turned to look at which annoying beggar was knocking on the window of the latest range rover all white classic, what I saw made my throat to dry up, and my trouser region to get wet from something you wouldn’t want to know. I was staring at a soldier’s trouser, too afraid to trace it up to where the face probably was.

men-in-green-2

Later I would ask God why he allowed these men to see through a tinted window and find me, and why he didn’t even force me not to wear the camouflage, but at that moment all I could think of was my life and how things were about to take a downward spiral.

The knock came on the window a second time, louder than the first and accompanied with stern shouts, and as I stepped down from the car that day, I didn’t step out as the bad OG that was stunting from party to party; I stepped out as that boy with the big teeth, low self-esteem and now with a wet trouser to complete his testimonial of misery.

“So you dey flex soldier uniform abi? You be soldier??!!” the soldier barked, and I didn’t wait for the words to be out of his mouth before I shook my head in the fastest way I had ever experienced them move.

“Your papa na soldier?!” he barked again, and I shook my head again, observing the first drop of tears fall from my eyes. Was I crying even before the beating began?

The soldier laughed at my tears and just when I thought I had probably made a friend out of this soldier for him to be laughing with me, the first wave of slap hit my cheek, and there had to be something about that slap, because out of nowhere, I was surrounded by five more men on green.

They decided to have mercy on me and let me do some small punishment where I was to bend down and raise one of my legs high up while maintaining my balance, and I had thankfully set out to do just this when my camouflage shirt flew up, and my sagging trousers revealed the camouflage shorts that was down below.

The following words you are about to read contains violent contents of a foolish boy being beaten to an unimaginable level, and reader’s discretion is advised. Only men with heart should read further than this.

So you think because of the warning above, I am going to go ahead and tell you the story of my suffering in details?  Because I look like someone that is giving testimony in church abi?

Taah!!

All I know is I was beaten to a level I cannot even recall properly to narrate to you, and the crowd of friends? Let me just say I realized that nothing is worth being beaten by a soldier for, and as for Helen who gave me that camouflage? I am still waiting for that day she would call me and beg me to tell my spirit to stop haunting her in her dreams, cause I am pretty sure she should not be able to sleep well after all the curses I have placed on her.

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