BY ROSELINE NYA
Somewhere in Lagos, Nigeria, a girl walks into a pharmacy and slide a prescription note across the counter, into the waiting hand of a pharmacist. Feigned blunt belligerence spread across her face as she turn sideways; away from the probing gaze of the older woman across the counter. She gives the store a sweep with her eyes.
“May I also have one of those?” she points to a shelf of sanitary pads.
“And one of that?” she points to a rack of flavoured chewing gum.
Packets of condom fall into her line of vision. A particular yellow one blinks at her. She ignores it and focus on the pharmacist instead.
“What’s my bill?” she asks.
“Give me a minute”, the older woman replies and her eyes roam to the price tag on a packet of antibiotics. Horror and anguish course through her. A muffled profanity escapes her mouth. The money in her purse won’t be enough for all the medicines on the table. She has to pay with her debit card. Digging into her bag, she uttered another profanity under her breath. And yellow condom says, “You should buy me to prevent a repeat of…”
“Don’t talk to me” girl cuts in.
“I don’t cost as much as…”
“Don’t talk to me.” girl insists.
“Tell who you contracted that from…”
“Don’t talk to me!!!” girl grinds through her teeth.
“Good. Go and tell him”, yellow condom replies and others roar with laughter.
Pink on her cheeks, girl turns to the Pharmacist, “How much is my bill?”
“Seventeen thousand, nine hundred and ninety Naira. Dosages are written on each pack.”
Girl hands over her card to the pharmacist, who is obviously still amused.
“You’re really going to walk out of here without buying me?” Yellow condom sounds insistently.
“Yes.” Girl answered.
“Gender roles. Cultural expectations. Self-preservation…”
“Wait! Self-preservation should make you buy me”
“No, it doesn’t. Branding oneself as indecent is not self-preservation”
“And not preventing STDs and unplanned pregnancy is?”
“Look, the human world doesn’t operate that way. If you were a man, you’ll insist on no condoms. You’ll tell her she’s the only one and there’s a future. So, no need. If she insists, you’ll call her names. If you managed to agree, and she dared to buy some for your mutual use, you’ll call her more names.”
“If I was a man, I won’t infect you with STDs…”
Girl rolls her eyes.
“If I was a man,” yellow condom continues, “I’d stick to a partner I have deep feelings for and know I can have children with. If I didn’t, I’ll appreciate and hold in high esteem a girl who protects herself and me, because you can never tell where anyone has been…And if I was a girl, I’ll insist on my protection no matter what, except I have a test result that supports the trust I have for you…. Come on, buy me and protect yourself.”
“You don’t understand…G-i-r-l-s D-o-n-’t B-u-y C-o-n-d-o-m-s. A girl can’t say, here’s a condom for us. Now, say, I walk into a store and pick up one. What will I get called? Wanton! Say, I take it to boyfriend or hubby, what will he say? Wanton!…”
“This kind of prescription can also earn you the name.” Pharmacist interferes, “Why don’t you abstain till after the vows have been said?”
“Marriage doesn’t stop a philanderer from philandering.” Yellow condom replies.
“Leaving him might be the perfect solution” Pharmacist offers.
“Leaving him is not an option; we love each other. I can’t just throw our love away.” Girl says and yellow condom yawns,
“Abstain, you refuse. Buy condom, you will not. Leave him, you say no. Would you move a bit? My favourite soap is about to begin.”
Featured Photo: Black Girl Magic/Etsy