Born before his time
This incident happened several years ago, we were told. According to the Mummy who narrated it, schools had just closed in Lagos at the time, in one of those exclusive private nursery and primary schools in Victoria Island.
“At this period”, mummy clarified, “we still had exclusive schools among exclusive schools. So where this incident took place could be said to be at least one of the very top three.
“The family’s driver had turned up in good time as usual to take the little boy home; a very tiny thing who could not be up to seven years at that time. As I gathered, it was usual for the driver to bring the Volkswagen Beetle to take the boy home; the Volks was their school run car.
“For some reasons which could only be explained that the boy had probably been warning the family to stop bringing that car to school and stop disgracing him, the boy refused to enter the vehicle and made so much noise as to attract people to the car park. All of us begged him to manage it for that day and go home, but he refused all entreaties and ordered the driver to go home and bring the Mercedes Benz before he would leave the school compound. He refused, when the teachers intervened, he would not change his mind.
According to the Mummy, this incident happened when “motor was motor.” “Few people owned motor cars at the time and majority of those who had cars saw them chiefly as a necessity and made little fuss about appearance. You could even say who drove what and you could describe a man as the Baba who drove the sky-blue Peugeot 304 or bright orange Rio car. One 404 we knew was so old and had made at least one trip to the scrap yard before the owner changed his mind and put it back on the road. It was not an embarrassment at all.
Neither was those huge monstrous foreign cars, which were repaired all the time and refurbished, was not any shame at all. Owners of Mercedes Benz were far and in-between; I am talking about flat-boot Mercedes Benz.
“So, this little boy’s father, like fresh university graduates of his time, had gotten a job which made him entitled to a car loan. Naturally, Volkswagen was within his grade of income and he was living his senior service life quietly until family-life happened along the way.
“And then the oil boom came and spilled over so much so that it awakened Nigerians to their personal advantages of self-rule. And like many Nigerians, the little boy’s father saw the immense opportunities, resigned his job and became a contractor. So added to the Volkswagen car was a Mercedes 200 Level. But like many Nigerians who were tasting luxury for the first time, the big car was in the garage all week where it slumbered with a cover to protect it from harsh weather and minutest damage. It came out only at weekends to grace owambe parties.
“But in this little boy’s case, when his father who already saw his grasp of wealth as an unending stream drove the boy to school himself, he took the car. All were meant to understand that the driver would drive him to school with the smaller car and the boy had obeyed this rule until that day.”
Many decades after this incident, this old school mummy is still fuming: “Left to me, he would trekked home that day,” she spat with eyes ablaze.
“Tell me, how much does he earn? Did he help his mother to do anything before he left for school that morning? What chores would he do when he got home and before he ate his meal? Why demand for a car? He should have asked to be flown to and from school in those helicopters packed on Maroko waters; they could even travel by water if he wished!
“They were not available at that time”, one of the modern mummies, who had listened to the story in silence, spoke for the first time. “But wait O Mummy, please, wait”, says the second mummy who was peeved at the young boy’s behaviour; “Did you say this happened in the 80’s or thereabout?
Old school Mummy replied: “Yes, that is true.” “Which means…,” a third mummy interjected, “that the boy is grown now and probably has a family of his own-his own children.”
“That is it!” old school mummy declared, eyes afire. Second mummy said: “Which means he is playing a leadership role somewhere in this society.” All the mummies exclaimed: “Ee e e e ee”
Old school mummy added: “That is the issue! He is a role model, indeed. Does anybody think that he has eschewed his big cravings?
Third mummy noted: “Well…that would depend on how the parents explained things to him. Like, why he has to go to school in a modest car and saving the big one for outings. They could talk about the cost of maintaining a car. I am sure he would understand those things if they explained quietly. If they remained firm the next time he sent the driver home, he would have learnt too.
Second Mummy added: “But we can look at it positively, too. These days, they talk about dreaming big to succeed in a big way; that boy could be said to have been born before his time; that is all.”
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