I always find it funny when people say I’m closer to my youngest brother K, it’s funny because this is just based on the ‘resemblance’ between us and the selfies I force him to take with me. It’s also funny because it isn’t true.
My other brother K would only consent to a selfie three times a year, he rarely calls when we’re apart and you can live in the same house with him for a week and only exchange a few sentences. But when I need him, he finds me. It’s almost uncanny how we call each other at the right time or reach out for no reason and it turns out to be just right.
The charging port of my laptop has been faulty for a while, a mechanical fault really, as it fell and the port shifted. How this laptop still runs is one of the reasons I believe there’s a God somewhere, we’ve been through many things Cressida and I, but we are still standing.
Because it was getting even more difficult to get the laptop to charge and I had spent more than an hour on Sunday, trying to get it to charge without success. I had made a mental note to call my brother earlier today so he could arrange for me to fix my laptop at Computer Village tomorrow. But I probably had the craziest day of the entire year and I’d completely forgotten to call him, until I saw a message from him on Whatsapp.
It was just an emoji, prompted by nothing.
I pounced on it and asked him to help me work his contacts at Computer Village and get someone who could repair it and most importantly, do it at low cost.
“Ah!” was his reply.
“Please na,” I cajoled as I dropped the bag I was carrying to chat with him.
“I will try,” was his final answer.
“Mba, don’t try, do.” I replied and burst into laughter as I remembered my former boss.
For a certain period in my life I worked for an organization with the base of operations in Abuja and the Boss came into Lagos at least once a month and you can imagine how chaotic things got when he’s around. It wasn’t just because he was the Big Boss (yes, just like the Late Stephen Keshi), it was his attention to the most insignificant detail and his quest for perfection. Good things on paper but not for you who has to work under his watchful eye.
He could reduce grown men to tears easily and no, he wasn’t rude, neither did he use insults or slurs. He didn’t need even need to, he was actually unfailingly polite and that made it even worse. He easily pushed aside your most concrete excuses and made your attempts to wiggle out of blame not only seem stupid but would make you wonder if you had any brains at all. And this was all done with a modulated tone, he rarely raised his voice.
For reasons no one understood, least of all me; he liked me plenty. I would have loved to stay out of his line of sight during the time he visited, to not even see him at all but this was impossible for two reasons.
The first was, items for Lagos pharmacy were often sent through him when he visited, especially the specialized items he would need for his own duties.
The second? “Where is Ada?” was usually one of the first questions he asked when he got into the reception, even when he didn’t have any package for the Lagos pharmacy.
To be honest, it wasn’t a privilege or even a perk that the man liked me. It made me the target of vicious attack from certain quarters (one of the roughest periods of my young life) and though I seemed to be the cat with nine lives, it got exhausting.
I don’t know how I could have coped if I didn’t have the parents I have, they did everything from prayers to even helping me draft replies to the most spurious queries. Maybe my dad and I should start a query answering service, we totally kicked arses.
Then there was the man himself and his penchant for pushing me to the absolute limits, he would ask that I do things I had no training for and I was to do them perfectly too.
“But I am only a pharmacist and not a hsdydudjd,” would only get laughter as a response from him.
“You can do it Ada, there’s nothing a Uniben graduate cannot do.” I would roll my eyes at this point (in my mind biko), he liked to pull our shared alumni card.
“Ok Sir, I will try.” I would smile as I said this, fully expecting the subsequent lecture.
“When you say I will try, you have already limited yourself and you’ll get satisfied even without results. But when you say I will do, you will keep pushing until you get it right.”
“I will do it,”
“Good, and I expect perfect results.”
And I often ‘did’.
Sometimes he teased me about smiling all the time, he would say it was because I was well paid (a big fat lie by the way) and I would smile a little more. I smiled because he often said the funniest things with a straight face, like my being well paid and not knowing what to use my humongous pay for.
I also smiled because I didn’t want to frighten him with my frown as dictated by my inner feelings.
During the time I was getting blows from many sides, he would tell me stories about starting out his organization and enduring fire and nightmares to build his dream which had become a reference point for excellence in not only Abuja but the entire country. And I would wonder about my own dream, wondering what it was and why I wasn’t seeing it.
When I was about to leave that organization, my mother told me I would miss my boss. She said it over and over. I thought she was wrong, while I liked his stories and admired his genius (yes he is an actual genius), but I didn’t think I would remember him with anything more than a vague affection. His wahala was too plenty.
But this evening, as I was walking down a long corridor, carrying the bagco bag with sliced ugu, tomatoes and other things weighing down my right arm, I realized that I had missed him, and that if I visit Abuja anytime soon, I would like to see him again.
As I settled to dice the tomatoes into the chunks I favoured for the vegetable sauce I was about to make for dinner, it hit me that my mother was right again.
My mother is always right.