Have you ever spoken up when you saw something going on that was wrong? Were you scared? What ended up happening?”
When I saw this prompt, everything went silent in my head. Silent. Of course I knew I had spoken up after seeing some wrongs being perpetuated a number of times but… the kind of example I wanted to tell wasn’t coming to mind.
As I saw that prompt, what I interpreted it to be was: “have you ever spoken up for someone when …” Not just “spoken up when you saw something wrong … “.
I have. It was a little activist work but I hope it matters. It was random but I pray she remembers it. It wasn’t the “lasting effect” type I suppose some people would think, because there wasn’t some quote from the scriptures to accompany it. But as I wondered if it could actually be of lasting effect, I remembered :
“blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God” matt5:9
I’m a peacemaker. Amidst other things, I’m an advocate for you, as a person, making peace with yourself.
It was December 12 , 2016. The chapel Carol was slated for that day. Chapel of the resurrection, UI has three youth fellowships: IVCU. SCM. TYF. The Carol was designed for the three fellowships and the Chapel children.
An hour before the Carol, I’m walking in the Chapel basement and I stop. I’m speaking with the sisters coordinator of my fellowship who doubles as my friend.
Someone else comes along. She walks briskly in a white dress that has full gathers at the waist. She has her hair let down; it’s a straight, black and shiny weave. I’m thinking it’s similar to the classic weavon I once fixed while in 100level.
She speaks quickly in the straight-to-the-fact manner of someone who has a program to oversee. Compere, I guess. She speaks kindly. She speaks with what I term butterfly flutters( I won’t explain this).
She asks my sisters coordinator cum friend , if she will be available to help with the distribution of the snacks as they had planned.
My friend twirls around and points at me. “she’ll help you”, she says.
Fast forward to three hours later, I join the preparation for distribution of snacks outside as the carol comes to a close.
The strategy is settled now and we’re waiting outside the auditorium for the proper time to begin sharing them.
Children are running everywhere. Screaming too. I’m lost in the melody of my mind.
Then I hear an indistinct conversation.
He is young and has an uplifted chin that forever gives him the appearance of a person wearing a smile. He is somewhat dark and short. He speaks with the air of someone who is familiar with people. He is older than she is.
My first observation – She is normal. His words, however, jolt me to notice the first observation of some other people. She is fat.
“… So” he drawls “you’ve been eating abi” he says.
She laughs in a manner and shakes her head.
“No? I can see it on you o or how have you gained weight again, ehn? What happened to exercising? You just stuff everything in your mouth. So do you like it this way now? You just keep eating, eating” he says. There is no hint of condensation in his voice. He is just speaking.
She keeps laughing as he speaks and somewhere in between manages things like “Nooo”
She is young. Maybe 15 or 16 years of age. She appears naive and worse still, used to ill treatment. Of course she doesn’t recognize this as an ill treatment.
I sigh again.
I speak before my ears take in too much of his words and before it is time to share the snacks. The children are still screaming and running. It’s a normal setting outside the chapel auditorium, just as the dusk falls .
“can I say something?” I ask him” I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation”
He looks at me. He is still shorter than I am. He has that appearance and I can’t tell if he smiles at me or its the cheek bone doing its trick again.
“yes” he says. I suspect it’s the former option. He smiles. He assumes I want to endorse his words or something.
“she shouldn’t stop eating just because she is fat. Who can really tell if she eats too much? If a slim person eats double the size she does, will it be okay in that case? ”
” oh no no. We understand each other. She knows I’m not insulting her” he says.
Did I expect a different response?
Blessed are the peace makers for they shall be called the children of God.
I hope my words stuck with her that night. I hope she remembers it in years to come. I hope she doesn’t allow people tell her that sort of thing. I hope in the midst of some of those self depreciating laughs, if she still does, my words ring in her ears, uninvited, without prior notice.
I hope she makes peace with herself.
This is my way of lending my voice to say stop shaming. Please stop it. As long as you’re aware you have no real point, please stop it. There are implications to this thing which you may not see everyday but it surely occurs. Some people develop Bulimia, others Anorexia. Or low self esteem.
The people you call fat, don’t have to run the miles that slim people never have to consider in a decade, just to be in the shape that you endorse. If it’s for healthy living, no problem. If you’re in an unhealthy place, then make a commitment to better living, good. That’s different.
The people you call fat don’t have to eat one scoop of Mandarin ice cream flavor(maybe once in two years) and ten scoops of guilt alongside. Only guilt? No, alongside pain and self doubt. Low self esteem.
Always let people thrive. People have enough reasons to cause them doubt in their lifetime than for you to add to the list quite deliberately or carelessly.
Blessed are the peace makers for they shall be called children of God.
I hope you find peace with yourself.