Sometimes, and some days, Lagos is Lagos everywhere.
In 2014, when I was with the girlfriend who worked with St Nicholas hospital, I met the generic Lagosian.
It was the times of the Ebola. And I put the “the” to underscore how clueless we were about whatever the heck that was. It was the one time that Stephen Colbert, John Oliver and Trevor Noah put together could not spin their satire briliiantly enough to quell our reverent anxiety for the virus.
Nor did it help that it was prevalent in Africa.
Hand sanitizers, hand gloves, baby wipes and face masks sold wilder than mining tools did in South Africa during the sparkly diamond boom.
I was well provided for in tools and information. Girlfriend had my back.
But one day – after working two days nonstop – she was heading home when she fell under a coughing spell.
This began in the bus.
She got out a handkerchief to cover her mouth. Then she coughed again and released phlegm with blood.
The passenger beside her let off a deafening alarm immediately. He was screaming, “Ebola! Ebola!!”
The driver swerved roughly to the side of the road and came to an abrupt screeching rest. Everyone flew out of the bus emergently, cussing raucously and proclaiming the shield of the holy ghost against her and the evil she bode within.
She tried to explain it was dry cough, however, her voice was drowned out by their gruff countenance and barrage of abuses.
Two seconds later, their mobile phones were on record.
And not long after, she was on Facebook. She began to trend immediately.
I’ll reiterate that: I saw my girlfriend trending on Facebook. For weeks she’d been saving lives. She was coming off a 48-hour marathon at work, and they were berating her???
I understood their concerns, but this was not how to go about it. This was not how to treat anyone. Especially, this was not how to treat a hero. And she was nothing if not a hero.
At work the next day she was quarantined.
I went ballistic, even though that was more understanding. And it was only for a day.
If she had been an Ebola-carrier, I was afraid of the scorn she would have suffered.
Till this day, I have not forgotten.
Thus, in retrospect, it is with a heavy heart that I fore-sympathise with any future victim(s) of the pandemic-promising Coronavirus.
I hear it can be controlled. I hear there are experimental treatments. But I am most afraid they may die of the stigma first.
Let’s prepare our minds to be better people – supportive people. Let us make this Lagos the same Lagos that people identify with everywhere.