‘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.
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Adejoh Momoh (email@example.com) can be followed on twitter @adejoh