I went to bed with an ache in my back. You haunted my dreams. I woke up trying to decide whether I was daydreaming or truly dreamt of you.

No exercise for me this morning. I will lump it together with tomorrows. The room is in shambles. I have to fix it, but not this morning. I grabbed the barbing kit, put a N1000 note in my pocket and went out to the next street to the tree under which my barber plies his trade.

There was a MOPOL (mobile policeman) on the seat. He was having his head shaved while having a lively conversation with the barber. He got up once done and started to walk away.

The barber asks for payment.

“I paid you last time” the MOPOL replied.

The barber called after him “419 MOPOL.”

We all smiled.

I sat down and told the barber that I was trying to grow my beard. So not to shave it off but he could “shape” it.

The MOPOL walked by again, and said he was going to the next street. The barber commented that the exercise was good for him, and added when he was out of earshot that the MOPOL needed the exercise, or how does he explain his sizable potbelly (which the policeman needed to lose).

Once done, I handed him the N1,000 naira note. His fee is N200. I told him to add the balance to the other “thing” (a side “venture”). He knows what I am talking about. I had given him N2,000 several weeks ago. He said he still had N1,200. The N800 should put it back at N2,000. No pain no gain.

Work was work. I should go (to the church) for (the weekly) fellowship, but various things were going on, and I watched 6PM come and go. Inertia. I couldn’t get up to go. Excuses. A colleague mentioned that Oblivion (the film) was out. I checked the Genesis Deluxe Cinema’s website and found that the last showing was for 8:50PM. I decided to go see the film. I left the office at 8:10PM only to find a gridlock on the road. It didn’t look like I would make it to the cinema before the film started, and I hate to miss the opening sequence of any film. I would try. I got to the cinema about 5 minutes late. Parked my car in a vacant lot between two jeeps and went in.

Paid and walked into the cinema hall. Fortunately, they were still showing previews of other films.

I walked up the aisle and found that a choice seat almost where I would have chosen even if I had come in earlier was still available. An Indian couple sat at the edge of the row, and several girls sat towards the other half so the seat almost dead center was free.

I sat down to enjoy the 2-hour film. The Indian couple talked from time to time. Not too much. It was nice (for them) not to be alone. It seems a lifetime ago when I was sitting in that same cinema (maybe even the same hall) next to you. I was glad I was wearing a short-sleeved T-shirt because I could feel your arm against mine. I didn’t move it, and neither did you. The feeling was delightful. I could have sat there till the Sun went down, and the moon came up. But that was a lifetime ago. The wheels of time move quickly.

Tom Cruise delivered as usual.

It is 11:15PM and I was the last person out of the hall.

There were suddenly lots of young people coming up the stairs unto the top floor. Strange for that time of night. I walked past them and out into the night. I see a “Department of Medicine, LASU” bus. Maybe the throng just arriving were students. They looked young enough.

I walked towards my car. I passed a man leaning against his car. He said something to me that though I heard did not register at the time “That car has hit your car.”

My car was in view and there was a Toyota Corolla next to it. It was too close for comfort. In fact, it looked as if it was physically resting against mine on the driver’s side (of my car).

I was a little alarmed. I could see into the car and it looked as if the driver had his head on the steering wheel. I walked up to the car and tapped the boot. The car came alive and the driver reversed a little and drove sideways and stopped a couple of feet away. The driver came down. A young chap about my height (or maybe slightly taller). He looked at the front of his car.

I looked at my car and there was almost no damage. There was a small scratch on the side of the bumper that could have been made by something as small as a screwdriver.

Then he came round, tried to smile and apologized. He asked about my car and I told him there was almost no damage. He stretched out his hand and I shook it. I found the situation odd, so I asked him if he was drunk. He shook his head (difficult to tell if that was a yes or no). I noticed there was a girl in the passenger seat with her head in her hands. I asked if she was OK. She raised her head and looked in my direction. The chap opened the door and held the girls hand. I guess she was OK but probably embarrassed. She was really pretty.

The chap went back to look at the front of his car. He seemed to have run into the wall more than he had run into my car. He staggered a little. It was obvious he was more than a little drunk. He realized it and he was obviously embarrassed.

I asked if the girl could drive. He said no. I said I don’t think he should drive. He said he is not driving right now. I told him I think he should chill a little. Maybe get a drink of water.

He apologized again, shaking my hand. The other fellow that had spoken to me while I was approaching my car had walked up to us. He inquired if the damage wasn’t too much and the chap responded that he had run more into the wall than into my car. The other fellow went away.

The chap went back to sit in the driver’s seat. He leaned over to the girl with his arm either around her or on the back of her seat. Not sure what he was saying.

I drove off, then reversed again. I wanted a look at his license plate. If we meet again, I wanted to remember. His plate number read “EPE 4xx AL” (I am leaving out the 2 middle digits – replaced by the “xx”).

Hopefully, he would stay there for quite a while: Oblivion was just a wrong turn or decision away (for him and maybe for the girl also).

I am on my way home.

Another day.

Just like the rest.


Hopefully to oblivion.

Social Commentary III: Well, what have we here

Social Commentary III: well, what have we here

So I am across town at my sister’s place. I decided to get a haircut. Went to a small mall (if you can call it that) at the market around Ogba.
While still walking along the estate, I came across a family alighting from a small car (early 2000s or mid like my own). Two young girls – about 5 and 3 – and the mum’s pregnancy is advanced. And I thought to myself in this current situation of the country and the world at large, contrary to any believes they may hold, they can’t “afford” 3 kids. I know some people are thinking I should mind my own business. But the world is now a small village and there are very few things that are truly private business (i.e., things that whatever you do has no implication to my own business – for example, in general, committing suicide probably has no effect on my well-being).
One child is OK. Two is insurance. Three, three is too much these days unless you are a billionaire.
And if you need reasons to stick to two or less, let me tell you that your retirement plan will thank you; those two kids will thank you; your neighbors will thank you; those pesky extended family members that think you should’t stop until you have half a football team screaming around your 3-bedroom apartment will thank you when they see you have a little extra to send their way; and of course I (yours truly) thank you already.
And if you think I should mind my business; let’s take it to the extreme shall we? Say the husband dies (yes, God forbid bad thing! But if you think it’s not that common, think again. There are lots of widows with small children. So, as i was saying, the husband dies, and the wife is left with 2 children of school age and a third on the way. It is very possible the bulk of the household income was earned by the dead husband. So relations rally around for a while but soon tire of the situation and drift away – they have their own issues to deal with. A year or two down the line, the wife is on her own. The children are shunted into some sub-standard school. The family moves to some unsuitable area to live because of the rent. Fast forward 15 years and those little children are grown – the young girls are both pregnant – and the smallest who turned out to be a boy is now a terror in the neighborhood.
Let’s say I am living a few streets away in a more affluent neighborhood. Come one night I get unexpected visitors shoving guns and cutlasses in my face and demanding all I have or my life: the boy is one of them.
Now, let’s pursue an alternative story which diverges before the breadwinner goes off to heaven. They stop on two kids. The husband dies. The woman is under a lot of stress. But some family member decides to help out and takes the older kid to live with him/her. Puts the girl in a good school. The wife is under less pressure in many ways. She can afford to put the remaining kid in a reasonably good school. The older girl comes home regularly to visit. Both children grow up to be responsible members of the society.
I get to sleep with both eyes closed.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I get to the barber’s and see the small shop has been divided into two. He seems to have acquired an assistant or trainee barber. Both are busy and there are a couple of guys waiting. The trainee finishes first but neither of the two guys seated makes a move. I indicated to one that the other barber is free but he says he will wait for the main barber. I held on a little. I decided to take my chances with the trainee barber. After all, how is he going to get better if no one allows him to gain experience by cutting their hair.

He is very gentle. I can almost not feel the clippers (they are new and when my regular barber used it on my head a week or so previously, I had a noticeable welt across my forehead where he had been “shaping” my hair.)
The only problem was that he held the clippers as if it was a chisel. He could have done a lot of damage if he hadn’t had such a gentle touch. I started to think/hope to myself that it was reasonable that the main barber will look in on what his apprentice is doing before he finishes right? And just I was starting to think maybe I should actually ask the main barber to look in, the apprentice steps into the other cubicle and had a short discussion with the main barber who then assigns him to shave the guy in the other cubicle while he finishes off my haircut. Thankee!
So I ask the barber what I can do about the bumps on my cheek. He says I should get some cream called Neo-Medrol. Great.
But there are two types (here we go). One is 850 Naira and the other is 650 Naira.
“What is the difference?”
The 850 one is made abroad. The 650 is made here in Nigeria.
I cross the road to some cosmetic shop and ask if they have the cream.
Yes. 1,200.
Isn’t it 850.
There was an inscription on the guys’s t-shirt but I couldn’t read it properly so I ask him to let me see it.
He smiled and wasn’t sure at first, but when I smiled and insisted, he uncrossed his arms.
“Communism killed a 100million people and all I got was this lousy t-shirt”
There was a picture of Che Guevara under the inscription.

I didn’t buy the cream. I went home.

Epilogue: Bought the cream for N1,250  a week or so later at MedPlus. Don’t know if it is any more genuine than the other guys, but MedPlus is big chemist chain, so I guess I can take some solace in that 🙂