Thursday, January 23, 2014

A BIROS TALE

‘Like it is in the picture’. I would run to my mum bellowing like a wild puppy. Pointing to the Ebony magazine I had in my hands, I would repeat, ‘buy me a Mont Blanc pen like it is in the photo’.
My mum would nod a nod that said something like:
‘why does a 9 year old want such a pen’
and then proceed on her journey. She would not buy the pen like it was in the photo when she returned and I would not ask her about it. My brother would later say to me that she had a budget of four hundred pounds for all of four children and could not afford my six hundred pounds pen from the magazine.
Today’s post would not be about luxury pens and all, it would be about a biro or bic- whichever is more appropriate. One First City Monument Bank had freely given as a New Year ‘thanks for your patronage’ gift to customers. As I received mine, first thing I would think is:
‘Would customers not appreciate improved services even more?’
The biro would go on to mean more than just biro to me. It would prove to me that there still is some good to Nigeria. From it, I would come to sudden realization that even when we say Nigeria is doomed because it lacks good people, this is most often not true.
It was on Friday the 17th January, I had stopped a taxi just up the road from the American Embassy and asked the cab driver to take me to my office, he immediately would demand a four hundred naira fare and I would allow a smile spread generously across my face. Three hundred I’d say and he’d look me in the face and frown that weird frown that ultimately continues until it becomes a smile, he would nod slightly and I would get in. Apart from pleasantries, we would not speak until I got to my office. I paid him in complete change, thanked him and I hurried off. He would mutter something like N300 was inadequate and I’d simply ignore him. Thirty minutes would pass and I’d be busy with the day’s paper when the security guard would interrupt and hand me a biro. He would say the taxi man returned it.
This single act would leave me impressed. Remind me that even in a country where everyone is said to be corrupt or self centered and poor, a taxi man still would expend his time and fuel to return something as basic as a biro to its owner.
I would immediately picture God saying:
‘For as long as you are faithful with little, I would bless you with even more’ and I would wonder what this means.
I’d say a prayer for the taxi man and say ‘thank you’ to the security guard. Seating at her desk across from me, my colleague would look to me and ask:
‘are you sure that taxi man is Nigerian?’
I’d look back at her and smile, knowing exactly what she meant.

Share your stories of exceptional Nigerians here in the comments or send me a mail at momoh.adejoh@gmail.com. 



Adejoh Momoh (momoh.adejoh@gmail.com) can be followed on twitter @adejoh

6 comments:

  1. Nice, your skill as a word-smith is undeniable. In the end, it is a pen you forgot, try forgetting something more valuable like your laptop or iPhone and see if he would be so happy to return it.

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    1. Thank you for reading and commenting. Funny thing, a banker friend of mine said the same thing as I shared the story with him after it happened. However, for me its about the act, if he could return something as basic as a biro, i'd like to think he would return something of a higher value.

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  2. Lanrewaju EeshawllarJanuary 23, 2014 at 6:05 AM

    Don't get carried away, it says more about the personal conviction of the taxi driver than a general reflection of our country. I'm as impressed about the driver as you were but that doesn't mean you should go on forgetting things in taxis.

    That said, it's no news that Nigeria is doomed and it will take more than acts of returning pens to give this country any semblance of hope for salvation.

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  3. You, my dear brother, are indeed a skilled word-smith and I've enjoyed every piece of your work. I have no drop of doubt in my mind that there's still some good to Nigeria, which I believe we both share, although a single act from a taxi man does very little to convince most people that Nigerians, as a whole, are winning the battle against corruption and every other vices that have plagued us from the very begining...

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  5. generosity has nothing to do with wealth, position.
    a friend narrates an experience along Keffi highway; his car had a flat tyre in a very bad location- notorious for armed robbery. unfortunately he does not have a car jack to change the tyre. a commercial driver with passengers stop to help him while his customers grumble because of time wastage.
    when he finish changing the tyre, my friend offered him some cash as thank you but the taxi driver turned it down to say; if it were the other way, would you have stop to lend a helping hand?
    a driver whose battery has fault solicit for the help of pedestrians and they agreed to push the car, when the car engine starts, he doesn't remember the guys are on foot- to ask, are you going my way?
    because of our daily interactions, most times we were made to see that the supposedly 'smart' ones take the lead; while the good (dumb) remain behind.
    treat the good ones right so that others can join the camp (gain in good) or the bad keep on flourishing.

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