Thursday, January 07, 2010

Give the Churchill boys a chance

(Also in Bengali daily Ek Din)
When he spoke to us, Felix Chimaokwu claimed that he and Odafe Onyake were chatting in the aircraft when he accidentally elbowed the airhostess in question. He says both of them immediately apologised. He also says that the airhostess in question didn’t say anything; it was a steward standing close by who raised the stink.

How much of this do we believe?

Do we believe every word Felix says?

Do we believe Churchill Brothers goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya when he says both the Nigerians are completely innocent?

Or do we refuse to believe them and side with the Indian airhostess, whose modesty was outraged – allegedly?

I don’t really have an answer to this. But I do have a couple of points to make in this regard.
Firstly, Indians are by nature racist. Blacks are usually treated with trepidation, disrespect. A Black man going slightly out of line is often looked upon with a tad more suspicion than a White man. We have all bumped into enough women over the years – unintentionally – and gotten away with an apology. A Black man in India might never have it so easy.

To this day, we refer to Blacks as ‘kallus’. You do too, reader of this editorial. It’s ingrained in our DNA.

The second argument is that Felix, or Odafe, or any Tom, Dick or Harry, will think at least 500 times before attempting to molest a woman inside an aircraft. There are people all around. There are stewards, airhostesses...very little space, in an airline like SpiceJet. In fact, having travelled in SpiceJet often, I can vouch for the fact that airhostesses and stewards bump into passengers in the aisle seats all the time. All the time!

Now, I am not ruling out the possibility that the two Nigerians did commit the crime they are being blamed for.

But I think the possibility that they are innocent is much bigger.

It’s just that India, as a nation, along with being racist, is also suspicious of foreign sportspersons. It’s almost as if we can never trust them or take them at face value. And if that foreigner is an African, with a strange accent, he becomes that much more alien.