I was on the bus on my way to work one morning when a loud voice from somewhere behind me erupted into song; it belonged to a man with what I imagined must be an extra large voice box, the way it resonated around the narrow confines of the bus, bouncing or the walls into my ears. I also imagined that he must surely have no intimacy with the concepts of pitch and harmony, not to talk of melody, the way his voice trailed off-key and created a shrill note in my eardrums. God! Was I miffed and pissed! To further add to my discomfort, a plump woman sitting beside me quickly indicated her approval of this most unwelcome interruption to my early morning peace by shouting a hearty “hallelujah”, then promptly joining in the song, such as it was. Their combined efforts effectively made me wish I had left my eardrums at home that morning. To my relief, the man on my left remained immune to the lure of their enthusiastic ‘thanksgiving’; his face remained impassive so I felt surely he must be a Muslim or have some other tendencies that were vey opposite to the ongoing ‘revival’.
This started me thinking on whether it was right or wrong to impose one’s own correspondence with God, no matter how heartfelt, on other people. Now, I am a Christian, and I felt guilty thinking along that line: it felt like sacrilege. But I imagined how I would feel if an Imam had started expounding on the virtues of the prophet at that early hour, and I had to tell myself honestly that I would resent it, very much. What then would happen if people of every tradition and religion emulated our bus evangelists and started preaching their good news on every trip on every bus? We would probably appeal to the house to pass a bill prohibiting such activities.
So, I wasn’t becoming an apostate by resenting my early morning preacher. Fact was his voice was louder than was necessary; he didn’t take into consideration the rights of fellow passengers when he started his sermon, and he was really making a public nuisance of himself. Coupled with the fact that if a ‘babalawo’ had stood up in his place to start reciting incantations, I have a feeling he would have resented it, very much, I was convinced there and then that it was very wrong for him to engage in such activities, in such a manner. But I had never given it serious thought before. After all, what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Right?