Dogs. Two of them. The He-brute struts-a bit overzealously- and She follows. Or so it appears. The hairy lot stroll casually toward me to inspect. Or suspect. For the queer grin on his face, as if the verdict of a jury. And she follows. Mindlessly. Paw after paw. Unreasoning beasts, they appear to me: “…have in subjection…every…animal that is moving on the earth…” But they know not the law. They leap ‘pon me, like I did wrong. Dysphoria is complete, when the Pacco Rabanne jacket I borrowed is rent in the fashion of textile fireworks. When canine injustice has exhausted it’s wrath, the gate man approaches my bleeding and very humiliated body:
“I’m very sorry, sir! I’ll call an ambulance!”
I recoil from my cold, hard embrace with the rough-surfaced pavement. My Once-upon-a-Black suit now resembles White background for Mud coloured Polka Dots- the result of roughing me against saliva and dusty pavement; nibbling holes and dirtying my vest within. In the far east corner of my eye, Bruno and Juliet elope, waltzing. No tragedy in their Shakespearian tale.
“Human Diploid Cell Vacine.”
I know. Because she said so. She also said that she would continue puncturing my already sore buttocks for a couple more days. I hold no grudge against the fluid; creamy like breast milk, maybe clearer than that; I cannot tell. She concocted it in a hurry, as if hiding the secret to her evil brew. What I can tell is the exaggerated length of her hypodermic needle, shiny protrusion from tubular, meek plastic. A pointed reminder that “all that shines isn’t gold.”
‘Pon the wake, my eyes reveal an adult male bowed in throaty, vigorous laughter. I cannot blame the nurse for bringing such a rattler in. His head is a luminary, for the reflection of the fluorescent lamp above us; clean-shaven. His eyes are welled with tears and wit; not at all hidden beneath finely trimmed eyebrows. His nose is the
pride of an archer; straight, like the steel arrow-head, plunging and halting above finely threaded moustache. His chin is clean; curving backwards like a talon, smooth like the blade of a spade. Black Narcissus. From his throat bellows the Larynx of a mature Bullfrog. My uncle. I need not fear chastisement. His eyes already promise treachery. How much did his suit cost? I find, very much to my embarrassment, that this question and many like it plague me now. Had they betided me ‘pon the thievery, I probably would not have had it on, for the rabids to feast. Truth is, I never had the man’s consent. The stern of his eyes ettles to portray his disapproval. His solemn rise from the nurse’s guestfriendly chair tells of this, but the nurse does not see it that way. She only stands there, gawking at what seems to be the life-size version of the carved ‘man-and-pen’ trademark of the Bic Biro. Her folly, however, troubles me not. The man nods in my direction:
Exit the Clinic. At the clang of rusting metal gates behind us, my uncle begins his sermon. Seated, he wails, coercing the defiant wheel through road and pavement of recurring bumpiness. The road seems to indulge him, in no attempt to quell his anger; each irritable turn increasing the pitch in his voice, till it rivals the ferocity of a
“…who gave you permission to ..?”
“The nurse was nice enough to have taken you in! What were you doing in that compound, anyway…did you not know there were dogs?!”
Dumb question. Even if I did, I wouldn’t have perceived that they would be loosed, to punish the innocent.
“…I was asked to apply for a job, in person.”
“Oh? Who owns the company?”
Like I’d care. I only sought the job.
“I’ve no idea.”
“Mrs William Grace! They even say she’s a Doctor! So, she thinks herself able to man the company, eh?. In this age, how could she be competing with us for power?! Some women just do not know when to stop!”
I stare the pillock in the face, wide eyed. I can tell that he intends to continue.
“Did you not read: ‘woman will be in subjection to man’?”
My anger is almost complete:
“But that is expected, only of married couples!”
He looks me in the eye:
“I do not understand you, Tope! I’m surprised that a male would think so! I’m disappointed.”
Think what you will of me.
Thankfully, we’re home. I place my foot on pavement. Much encouraging. The brute-bites ache now, but I’ll live. Much longer than I would, if the conversation did not end. He even forbade me step foot in Vortex Pharmaceuticals again. However, I have other intentions. Tomorrow, I’ll submit my letter of application, in response to the advertised vacancy of office for an Industrial Chemist. In feigned appreciation- for the ride and wise counsel- I wave at the now retreating figure of a shimmering Maroon 2011 model Crysler 300c Sedan. He said he had work to do. Good riddance.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013. The day I notify the HR Department of my will to work in the company. I approach the gates with caution. There’s no warning sign, yet my mind seems to throat loud, emphatic “Beware of Dogs!” between breath intervals, now very often. The same creaking sound of rusted heavy metal heights my anxiety. One foot within, and I chance ‘pon the Punisher. The bigger of the beasts grants me a leer, after the fashion of Shark and Fish. The Alpha. Fang sets with a horrendous reputation. His tongue is bequeathed with saliva, dripping from almost violent pants. He
awaits me. But I know this. From my satchel, I begin to pull at the almost conspicuous handle of a baseball bat. Feeling a victor, I charge forth. He does the same. I, walking, him trotting. My elation is only transient, for the bat won’t budge. Not while there’s a struggle for space with my books and files. He stops, too, and I see why. He’s no fair beast; lest there be no chain round his neck. It grips him in cold fury, all for my comedy. In the end, humbled by its strength, he bellows in bark. A uniformed guard approaches, relieving me. He’s different from yesterday’s.
“Good morning, sir. How may I help you?”
So you didn’t hear of how this brute bit me, yesterday?
“I’m here in response to the advertisement for vacancy of the post of Industrial Chemist.”
He seems to have noticed the numerous beads of sweat on my forehead, and then replies:
“I’m sorry she scared you. We’ve been having problems with her, lately. Please, come with me, sir.”
She? Her? I turn enough to look again at the German Shepherd, now lying meekly. Beneath an exaggerated girth, three nipples point in my direction.
“Where’s the other..?”
“You’ve been here before?”
“He’s the smaller one. We keep him at the back. You must’ve come at midday, that’s the only time they are together. You’ll probably see them before you leave.”
As we make a turn through the entrance of the complex, he salutes other uniformed men. Approaching a short flight of stairs, he stops and points to a six-panelled door.
“Knock on that door. You’ll be received by the Secretary.”
“You’re welcome, sir.”
Thirteen minutes later, I exit the complex, pass the group of seated officers, and walk into the open space in front. There, the only human around being myself, I come to stare once more at the Alpha. She casually begins to stroll once more in my direction, this time with her companion, he, loyally following. Realising that there is no chain round her neck, I brace myself for impact, clutching my baseball handle again. She only eases herself past me. Perhaps deliberately. To show more of herself. Indeed, the view be graceful. She brushes her tail against my right leg, still shivering in its place. Her fur is luscious, finely arranged after the fashion of a cosmetic brush; gleaming with a black lustre that beckons my touch. But I remember the battle. I will not do it. The follower trots in line, eyeing me with a cynical growl. He turns toward her and continues in pace. Bemused by this, I begin the ponder. In the end, I’m no different from my uncle, lest I renounce the insidious air that recommends the Alpha of society male. “Mrs William Grace..?” Who knows if prosterity shall reward her, should she born sons enslaved to this arbitrary foolishness.
“Male and Female, he made them.”
I mutter to myself as I approach the gates. If one is Alpha, whose place is Omega? My next appointment with the HR officer is in two days. Perhaps by then, I may have found answer to this Greek riddle.
For Woman. No less than man.
“Domestic- a beast of burden,
Remote are the feats of the donkey,
Construed as the woman’s place,
Illustrated as without grace.”
Artwork by Kenechukwu Nwadiogbu.
Note: This is a piece of fiction. All characters are fictional, and bear no resemblance to an actual person or registered name. Also, this piece may not be used for Sexist or Anti-sexist notions or themes.