Everytime I pick a pen to write about living in Owerri, I feel weighed down by how lengthy it would be, and how detailed it should be. Like Hey girl, you shouldn’t leave anything out, paint it the way it is.
I was nineteen when I first came to Owerri. A young girl who couldn’t differentiate her vagina from her vulva. A fresher tossed into the state varsity who knew next to nothing about the city. I remember too well that it was in that same year that I had experienced the ills of generalization and felt distraught on how society perceived Owerri ladies.
It seemed like just yesterday that a man I don’t know from Adam stopped me along Owerri Okigwe axis with the promise of paying for my time if I obliged his offer of rolling on the sack with him, for just a minimum of three hours. He made it sound like he was doing me a favour. Like, hey doggie, jog with me and get a bag of juicy bones in return.
I can’t describe how I disgusted I felt. There I was, thinking about the current ASUU strike and what to do to keep body and soul busy. There he was, fighting a stupid grin on his face, with a stare that seemed to be saying; hey your miserable life depends on my peanuts, you gat to act fast.
I don’t remember the right words I used in telling him off. But it sure was something close to a bark. And on getting to my hostel, I replayed the scene again and again, wondering what in Pete’s sake made the stranger think I was that ‘type’ of girl. Was my naivety a turn on or my drab outfit?
Months later I would come to understand it was the norm here, and schooling in the state varsity was a double plus. So when next a man old enough to be my father dropped suggestive remarks about us treating each other well, I learnt to zip my ears close and feign being dumb amidst his crazy rambling.
But then, it is a pain in the ass how we have to deal with ‘Owerri girls are sluts’ tags. Hey, it is not our fault that our city is bedecked with hotels and eateries. Or that our city is a weekend tourist centre for people with enough cash to spare. What I don’t like is the generalization and the crazy talks in public vehicles. And how I have to deal with the ‘but it is true’ looks from fellow passengers.
Owerri is a screwed up place for girls who know next to nothing about runs but have to live with the assumption that they do. And how we live daily without giving much thought to it surprises me,not until the other day when a girl broke down in night class, and I felt myself coming apart at the seams.
In this Owerri, I have seen men keep spies on their ladies because of the mere fact that she schools here. A recent case was that of our lodge caretaker who was paid by an occupant’s hubby to keep tabs on her.
I have seen relatives assume the worst about a young lady’s lifestyle. I have heard horrid tales too of how a once good girl turned bad. And in all, I found my thin voice asking; what is the way forward? How do we put a stop to this? How do we stop the infiltration of young girls into the chain circle of whoring. What please is the way out?