Like a true Nigerian movie, this movie has a Part 2, and the part one might as well be unnecessary. Read the first part here if you haven’t. This is Part 2. Action! True Life Story continues.
I came to the airport early. Luckily there was no queue in getting into the main entrance. Two men and a girl were ahead of me and they delayed me because they had a few boxes to put through the scanner. Only the girl had a flight ticket, so it seems the two men were escorting her. We passed the first screening. At the second screening one of the men decided to wait while the other man and the girl went through. The escorting man explained something to the security officials and he was allowed to go with the girl to the check-in counter. I was still behind them at the check-in counter. Close enough to the girl now, I figured she should be about 15 years old returning to school by flight. Dam da dup dada (remembering a song we sang in primary school) Leaders of tomorrow.
A girl, or is it a lady? A young lady. She is at that stage of her life where she want’s to be seen as a woman, not a little girl. You could tell from her outfit. Having two men (brothers or cousins it seems) escort her to the airport like a minor would have been embarrassing for her except that she has a lot of luggage and she knows some of the tricks to public life; which is that with the right demeanor, she could make men escorting a minor look like servants taking luggage for a lady. She did that well because I was surprised to find that they were not her servants. Returning to school, obviously. I was curious to find out what she studies but I figured it is better to let it go because talking to her in her womanly mental state could have repercussions, which was more than I was ready to do damage control for.
Sitting on the plane now, the girl and I were seated on the same row. Between us, there was a man who seems to be in his forties. At this point he was just an ordinary man, like any other passenger. There was another group of travelers, three men, seated close to us and they were quite fascinating to sit by. They were funny in their remarks, “careless” in their use of language, and quite impatient with the cabin crew because according to them the cabin crew helped in delaying the flight. The group were raising their voices, making loud jokes so that all within earshot would share the laughter, even sharing their phone conversations by speaking loud and letting everyone know what “big” businesses they are into… generous I thought. They were almost like the typical unruly testosterone-filled high school football team in American movies. Soon enough I found that the man between the girl and I is actually part of the group. However he stood out from the group; he was hiding more than the cool demeanor he presented. It seems that he would ordinarily join them but he wants to keep his cool for God Knows who… certainly not me. Could it be for the lady, I mean the girl?
There is no reason to suspect him of predation simply on suspicion of him pretending to be more responsible than his friends. Not until he, like me back on the queue, noticed the womanly recognition the girl wanted. He gave her his attention. They greeted and started a conversation. I had my suspicion that would happen but seeing it happen made me uncomfortable. But I thought, may be he is just having a conversation like I considered having with her back before take-off. But there is something unsettling about seeing a girl acting “womanly” with an old man who talks to her like an attractive woman, with prospects of taking the conversation beyond the flight.
Yes, flirting! that is the word; that is if you can tell flirting from a distance. No need to go into details of the evidences of flirting here. In observing the flirtatious engagement, the effortlessness of it all, especially from the man’s part, was chilling. It showed finesse and experience in flirting, but of course he is much-much older. The eagerness to encourage the conversation from the girl’s part was heartbreaking. She was enjoying his validation of her woman-ness, and he was about to bag this one.
We were soon to land, as announced. Then they exchanged phone number. Actually it was only she that gave him her phone number. I wondered the psychological implication of having only one party give their phone numbers for future correspondence. Then they exchanged BB pins. I wondered how the girl would someday casually chat with a BB contact, and giggle, and be emotionally invested with messages from the BB contact. Who would know that behind a flirty BB contact of a girl, using all those emoticons, is a 40+ years old man chilling with his unruly friends doing who knows what?
I wonder now, should I have spoken to her. Perhaps then I would ve been able to interrupt their conversations. If really he was a predator, he wouldn’t attempt to pounce when he assumes she is not alone (with me). Then, I might not have written this post.
This experience raises an important point of consideration when minors (or any disadvantaged group) are travelling alone along paths where predators may be lurking. Not long ago, I was told about how an older girl had to cancel her trip because her travelling buddy could not make it as planned, even though she had a driver but her parents would not allow her alone with the driver. It makes sense now. I am not saying it is the solution though.
If I were a credible religious scholar of repute, I could see some Muslims using this incident to buttress their point that women should not be allowed to travel without a Mahram (who in this case would be a male travel companion). This incident would be cited as a relevant example to make a case for today; because the proof lies in interpretations of religious texts. That is assuming the story I narrated is accurate in assessment of the man (like I said, the truth of the story is not important, my experience is important). This is not the time to go into the debate of a Muslim woman having a (male) companion on any travel, but it suffice to say that I do not agree with that position in light of today’s means of travel. However I encourage people to travel in groups, at least two, especially young people that could be taken advantage of. This solution posits that having two girls travelling together could repel predators. After all in Nature, animals move in groups to defend against predators.