Tuesday, 18 June 2013

The "Thrilla in Tudu"

The rains had the ability to turn the streets in and around the market from bustling commercial hubs in their own right, into a competition with garbage and debris.  And as if is that wasn’t enough, mud and puddles of murky, foul water laid ambush for hapless pedestrians. The harsh afternoon sun would chair over the proceedings with its punishing glare.
Ugh. As you can see, I was really dreading the monthly trip to the National Service Secretariat at Tudu. (I don't even want to start on that subject) At least I had company today, and that made any arduous activity more bearable. 
On our way back to the Ecobank at Tudu, where we had parked under false pretences, the four of us walked in a single file. I could never understand why the sellers left no space for the pedestrian-buyers to walk. Surely, it had to be better for business if they had room to walk, stop and admire wares etc…wasn't it? Instead they left thin strips of pavement, slimmer than the planks on the Kakum walkway and you were forced to stage an elaborate balancing act in order not to disturb the well-arranged wares.

All I was thinking of was the cool banking hall ahead of me, where I could sit down. 
I suddenly almost lost my balance. The dirty urchin who had just pushed me must have heard my thoughts and wanted to offer me a seat on the ground…in the mud, or on someone’s pile of children’s jelly shoes??  

None of the options appealed to me, so I flailed my arms about me wildly, trying to steady myself. I lunged forward again; the twat was still steadily trying to make his way past me, attempting to floor me in the process.  Righting myself, yet again, I sharpened my mouth ready to launch into a tirade. “Are you stupid?” I planned to begin. 
As he was directly in front of me, I couldn't help but notice his grimy hair and clothes. His head looked small and slightly misshapen and his mouth looked as if it had been slapped onto a too small chin as an afterthought.  Even I, occasionally, have bouts of compassion and decided to let the matter slide. I dusted myself off and began to walk away.
[This all happened in less than a minute]

“Hey!! Hey!!” I heard a woman shout, and began to beat a hasty retreat before I got yelled at for stepping all over the glittery, little, plastic shoes.
“Where is your phone?” My colleague asked me, holding on to the pushy man firmly.
Alarm bells set off. I felt my pockets. Pocket one: the galaxy was present. Pocket two: *gasp!* the blackberry was absent!! 
I quickly turned around; the dirty ragamuffin was holding the white blackberry in his filthy hand! 
“Why do you have her phone?” my associate asked the pickpocket.
People had started to pay attention now, gathering slowly around the two of them.
He replied in twi, hastily “It’s for her, it fell down, and I was picking it for her”

The scene of the boxing bout. Can you spot the shoes? 

Further dialogue was unnecessary. My phone had not fallen from my pocket. He had pushed me to distract me while stealing my phone and had hidden it under the towel he was holding. 
The phone was promptly handed back to me. A dark man standing behind the thief landed a hefty slap on the fellow's check, he never saw it coming. That signalled the beginning of the Thrilla in Tudu and flurry of slaps rained down on the thief. Instant mob justice, feeli feeli. So much for  legal process,lol. I was frozen in place! To think I had just felt sorry for the guy a few minutes ago, while he was doing me in! I did almost feel sorry for him now, he had just become the vent for everyone's frustrations. A lot more 'slappers' had joined in, and the melee had moved to the middle of the street. Blows and kicks were flying, all directed at the thief, with our friend in the thick of it all.
Such excitement!
The market women huddled around me, asking questions, full of praise for the rescuer of my phone.
The thief suddenly came running right towards me in his bid to escape. In a flash he had pushed past me and fled, with a few men in hot pursuit.  

Huddling around the man of the moment, I thanked him over and over. The market women were showering him with praise and bestowing appellations on him. “Wo de gentle no ato nky3n!” “Wo y3 b33ma paa!!” “W’ay3 adi3 paa!! Mo!”
Who on earth would want to steal in this economic climate, which had people's tempers permanently heated?Tightly grasping my phone, we walked away recounting the event and wishing we had filmed it. 
The bustle continued. As we drove off, we saw a guy walking through the crowd behaving in a similar manner...hopefully, he will be as lucky as 'our' thief had been when he gets caught.