In the most respectful but passionate manner, I lodged my complaint at the box office. It was the kind of complaint you submit after being cheated for too long. Viva cinemas, Ilorin was showing movies on a faulty screen and I was tired of it.
It not only meddled with my perception of the movies that were shown but it messed up my cinema experience. For the umpteenth time, I spoke to a staff member and again they made me feel as though I was paranoid. Everything seemed fine and my concerns about the screen were too new to be taken into any serious consideration.
So, I asked to see the manager this one time. I was going to be billed for movie tickets like everything was okay and that was definitely not fine with me. It was a tad unfair and very unreasonable. The sound quality was extremely poor, the images were blurry. It was as though I was watching a 3gp movie format on a computer system. I most desperately wish that was an exaggeration but it sadly isn’t.
The manager finally agreed to see me albeit reluctantly and I recited all I have been made to recite ‘everyday’ to him. He was quite evasive, he wouldn’t take responsibility. So I came forth firmer.
‘I review movies and because of this issue, I have had to say in one of my reviews that the quality was too low. Do you know how that made me feel when I realized that I was wrong and that it was your faulty screen? I was embarrassed, to say the least. So, I have walked out of the movie showing now so that we can go back inside to be sure my complaints are valid.’
There and then, he admitted. He said it was truly faulty and he was very sorry. He asked what he could do to compensate me but in all honesty, that wasn’t my aim. What was he going to do? Give me more popcorn? Throw free tickets in my lap? What?
Everything seemed fine until days passed and someone with whom I had gone to see the movie said that his friend was right beside us when I complained bitterly about the recurring bad experience at Viva Cinemas, Ilorin.
In his words, ‘how una dey cope with that babe? She too dey complain’.
Flashes of Chimamanda’s speech on the Danger of a Single Story filled my head and I was taken aback for a moment. This dude knows absolutely nothing about me. The only side he saw of me was that which was thoroughly dissatisfied about a shitty service.
That I was vocal about it pissed him off I think. Maybe if I was much older or I was a man, it would mean nothing. Maybe I talked too much, I complained too much, I needed to shhhhh, I needed to be content. Maybe to him, I was too forward, too expressive, too passionate.
What would Chimamanda do? Stay put and quiet until nothing is ever done? I have learned too much from her to be unnecessarily still, especially when I can speak. I have learned something and it is not to be grave quiet when you are being constantly ripped of. I might have come off to this dumb dude as a complainer but that doesn’t change anything, does it?
If it does, it is that I am motivated to be vocal about what hurts me. It is that I understand that not everyone is used to women ‘complaining’. It is that anyone anywhere can have an opinion of me but that doesn’t define who I truly am.
Maybe Viva cinemas will never fix their screens but I wasn’t hush hush about it. That in its right is good. I spoke my mind. They know, one girl somewhere isn’t going to accept what they were bringing to the table in the name of large screens and popcorns.
Today is Chimamanda Adichie’s birthday and while she most likely doesn’t know me, I suppose, watching her from afar has influenced me in so many positive ways. If I am honest, I’ll admit that I do not agree with every single thing she stands for but watching her live her own truth with audacity is beautiful. I am therefore encouraged and propelled, pushed and inspired.
Her lifestyle has taught me that perfection is not defined by perfectly laid edges and westernized capes. My curly, thick natural hair is just fine. Ankara is also nothing to be ashamed of, only that I can express my style with it.
She has taught me that a woman can be both fierce and tender at the same time, that I can be both fierce and tender at the same time. I have learned from her, my voice is my gift to the world.
I am so blessed to have experienced her existence and even though she’ll never read my thoughts towards her, expressing it nonetheless is a token of my gratitude to her being.
Maybe I can take a cue from her tenacity as often as I am burdened by overwhelm.
Happy Birthday Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. May you live very long.