Sun, 26 Mar 2023 Feature Article

Was this Hatred Borne Out of Gender Inferiority or Sheer Stupidity? – Part 1

Was this Hatred Borne Out of Gender Inferiority or Sheer Stupidity?  Part 1

Today is by no means a slow news day. A lot of unpleasant and decidedly unpalatable things and events pall the land. Nevertheless, it is yet, still, the Gold Coast of yore where foreigners, largely European and Arab merchants, came and went away in their ships with huge caches of mineral gold because even as that trite old maxim goes, “A pig is still a pig. No amount of lipstick can turn Ms. Piggy into a Mrs. Onifrayeni.” Which, strictly speaking, is really no significant elevation in status at all, when one ponders this matter more wisely and critically. These days, too many of our people have lost faith in our leaders and, to be certain, in our very selves as well. Perhaps this apparently abject loss of faith in our leaders and ourselves began with a complete loss of a remarkable sense of our own self-worth and dignity. And integrity.

The preceding were some of the thoughts that flashed through my mind when I chanced across a Fortune magazine news story published on the website of Microsoft Start, titled “The Air India Passenger Who Urinated on a Woman Mid-Flight Has Been Fired by Wells Fargo, where He Was a Vice-President” (1/7/23). As the Dear Reader can clearly see from the parenthetical dateline of this news story, I have been keeping it on file for quite some time now. You see, we tend to think of the vice-presidents of giant multinational corporate entities like Wells Fargo as models of good breeding, intellectual enlightenment and smack at the very top or apex of human civility and poise. But this is by no means the story of Shankar Mishra, an Indian-born Wells Fargo executive who was recently arrested and detained in New Delhi, the multimillion-peopled Indian capital, by the police and given a two-week custodial sentence by a local judge or magistrate.

I suppose what the foregoing means in simple English is that Shankar Mishra was promptly arraigned before the court of an Indian judge or magistrate and lightly tapped on the wrist with what is commonly known hereabouts in the United States of America as “kid gloves.” The custodial sentencing of Mr. Mishra was so insultingly light that it makes one wonder, at least as of this writing and press preparation, whether the judge or magistrate who handed down such a comical – except that it is not really funny – sentence ever had a birth mother or any female relatives. Now, don’t get me wrong: I am not herein or hereby suggesting that this criminal vermin who sat next seat to the name-withheld woman into whose clothes, shoes and hand luggage he had so bestially urinated, ought to have been slapped with the death penalty, being that readers are only presented with a narrative perspective that is almost strictly and exclusively from the viewpoint of media reportage.

Which is neither to say or even imply that this act of scandalous and heinous criminality would any more or less have been mitigated by listening to or hearing from both sides of the full narrative of this incident. Personally, I haven’t flown for nearly some four or five years now, although I still vividly recall the fact that on every long-distance flying airplane, there are at least three or four lavatories or toilet facilities that are readily accessible for most of the flight. What this simply means is that the seating areas of these airplanes are not meant to be used as lavatories or toilet facilities, even in emergency situations, as may very well have been the Shankar Mishra case. As well, one is inclined to believe that Mr. Mishra was well-educated enough, as well as fairly well-cultivated enough, to fully appreciate this very basic fact of human civility. And, oh, by the way, I also wanted to add the fact that I have not flown out of New York City, where I have been domiciled for some 40 years in recent years, although my wife of nearly 20 years, now, just returned from a trip to Ghana just a little over a month ago. She was in Ghana for approximately one month. It was a private trip, unlike the one which involved Shankar Mishra. Which was not exactly the direction in which I had intended for this brief news feature to take.

Now, what I really wanted to say or add here is that I consulted my wife when I got to the fist draft of this part of my column to verify the fact of whether, indeed, there were at least three or four restrooms as they are commonly known hereabouts, on a commercial jetliner. She flew to Ghana on a round trip on a Delta Airlines flight, and she just confirmed to me that, indeed, there had been at least three toilet facilities on the plane on which she had flown. She also tells me that these toilet facilities are located, respectively, in the economy or rear section of the plane; another lavatory is located somewhere in the mid-section or the business-class section of the plane, and very likely another one next to the front or the first-class section of the plane.

Personally and stereotypically speaking, I wasn’t the least bit flabbergasted by the fact that a highly placed professional like Shankar Mishra would dare to pee or take a leak, as it were, on a fellow Indian citizen in, of all places, the fuselage of an airborne plane enroute from New York City’s John Fitzgerald Kennedy International Airport to New Delhi. Now, that is a lot of mileage and hours to be literally rooted to one seat on an airplane flying in excess of 15 hours nonstop. Anyway, my wife was also quick to add that there is almost always a long queue or beeline to the lavatory. Which, of course, momentarily kept me wondering whether, perhaps, it was during one of these peak moments of massive or heavy lavatory rush-hour traffic that forced an unbearably incontinent Shankar Mishra to involuntarily discharge the liquid contents of his belly, perhaps beer- or liquor-full, onto the feet and baggage of Ms. Or Mrs. Name Withheld, not Anonymous, mind the Dear Reader.

I choose not to call her Ms. or Mrs. Anonymous because that would be inexcusably and execrably insulting, both morally and culturally. We are also told that this most obscene and inglorious problem was further complicated by the poor handling of the matter by the cabin crew or the pilots and the flight attendants. Now, precisely what does the “poor handling” of this most bizarre situation by the flight crew mean? We shall examine this aspect of the matter in the second segment of this two-part series.

*Visit my blog at: KwameOkoampaAhoofeJr

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
March 17, 2023
E-mail: [email protected]