Saturday, July 11, 2009

Getting A Life

Disclaimer: First of all, before MI-5, the FBI, SSS, the Nigerian Police Force, National Assembly and my future political detractors flag this post as suspicious and a pointer to terrorist activity, I AM ONLY JOKING, ABEG!!! Please take everything you read here with a pinch of salt.

You see one thing is that I have an over-active mind that just won’t keep still most times even when I sleep. So it was that I happened to watch Kill Bill Vols. 1 & 2 recently (I’m ashamed to admit, I know) and it threw my mind back to a question I asked my younger brother a few months ago. I didn’t intend blogging about this earlier considering the risky nature of this discourse (please pause and note the above disclaimer again) plus the fact that the brother might eventually read this and finally figure out my identity. Oh well, I’ve been busted before

Ok, now to the question. I don’t really know where it popped out from but I asked him this: If I wanted to hire an assassin where would I go? (If at this point you find that you are uncomfortable with this train of thought, please read no further).

The rationale behind this question was simple. You see it all the time. You’re watching a movie and just at the snap of a finger, somebody sends an assassin to “finish off someone” - a rival, an ex, a spy, anybody. And true to form, the assassin goes and does the deed in which he/she fails or succeeds and then comes back (or not) to collect their paycheck - a process that usually ends in the shedding of more blood. Easy-peasy. Or I wonder: Is it as easy as it is being portrayed?

OK, forget the movies. Let’s bring it closer to reality. Pick up your newspapers and at least one of the headlines is bound to read: “Political bigwig escapes assassination”. Or “Permanent Secretary alleges assassination plot by detractors” or something else in that vein. Most of these cases are similar and usually political in nature thus begging yet another question: Do politicians then have a business directory for assassins?

The best way they say to act out a character is to be the character and so for your sakes, I must put myself in my characters’ shoes. Let’s say, for instance I want to hire an assassin (this is for pretend, please) how would I go about it?

Well first of all, there has to be a motive. Why would I want my fellow man or woman deleted? The number one plausible reason would be to have a hatred for the other party so deep, so dark that I am willing to trade all my life’s good work for a very choice location in hell. Trust me, eliminating someone isn’t the kind of sin you do wishfully knowing you can later go back and beg God for forgiveness. Nothing like that. But back to the subject at hand. Do I hate someone so much as to cut off their air supply? Such degree of hatred is unfathomable to me at this point. Maybe I haven’t really seen that dark side of life yet but I am aware that no matter the injustice done to one, there’s nothing as beautiful as the ability to forgive. Ask Nelson Mandela. Maybe not forget, yes but to forgive.

OK, so the hatred has to be there. Second step would be to contact the evil-doer. Now this I admit is where the difficulty lies at least for me. Where does one contact such characters? The shadiest types I’ve known were frat boys in the University days whom I tried to steer clear off as much as possible. Do they still maintain ties with the dark side after we all have graduated? I do not know.

Sadly, this country - matter of fact, this world - is one where people are mostly unemployed and will do anything for a buck. My choice of where to recruit a never-do-well would obviously be one out of a motor park, a deserted building or a shanty town area, these places ironically being pinpointed as areas notorious for the trafficking of Indian hemp. Having never tried to buy the stuff myself or hired anyone, I can safely say these assumptions are hearsay until confirmed (volunteers anyone?).

So right now we have the why and where. What’s remaining are the who and how. Permit me to say that from this point henceforth, I will be working strictly on assumptions buttressed with what I’ve seen done in movies. So Mr. A impregnates Mr. B’s sister who then tries to terminate the pregnancy at the hands of a quack doctor, resulting in her death. Mr. B then vows revenge on Mr. A by hiring an assassin to carry out the evil deed. Mr. B meanwhile, was your typical law-abiding, tax-paying civil servant prior to these unfortunate turn of events. I hope you get the Nollywood-type scenario now? Good…

Now, off he goes to XYZ Motor Park where he approaches a group of rough-looking, hemp-smoking touts with their taut, rippling muscles bulging from their unwashed torn shirts. What does Mr. B do? Call one of them aside and ask to see their Capone? It’s a safe bet that by this time Mr. B must have cleaned out his account to set up the hit and probably borrowed from a few unsuspecting neighbours. Of course he has to “settle” the messenger before he is taken before Capone who orders all the other boys to scram.

And at this point my imagination fails me… How exactly do you open your mouth and tell a man who looks like he breaths fire and eats little children for lunch that you want to hire him or one of his fledglings to carry out the deed? Will he open his gaping cavern of a mouth and laugh at you before ordering one of his boys to “brush” you and throw you out for suggesting such? Or worse, hand you over to the Police? Or will his face materialise into the sweetest of baby smiles as he picks his gargantuan teeth and asks you “How much?” Foreseeing this difficulty, one therefore might choose to explore other options.

Option A involves going to see a native doctor who will be obviously less physically oppressive than Capone but makes up for his perceived deficiencies by his diabolical incantations, dreadful interior shrine decoration and the noticeably dead and decapitated white cock hanging from the centre rafters (Nollywood has indeed schooled me well). Don’t have the stomach for spiritism plus its stereotyped tendencies to backfire (usually on your sterility, your first son, wife or mother)? OK, let’s explore other options.

Option B might actually involve befriending a politician and standing by till around election time when, who knows, he might actually let you sneak a peek out of his hitman directory or better yet, order you to go and summon the villain on his behalf, thus giving you the chance to dangle the prospect of a “side project” to said hitman. This therefore becomes recruitment by proxy. However, like all politically-generated friendships, this option has no safety catch and might end up in blackmail by the time you attempt to become president.

The third alternative makes full use of the modernisation processes linked with globalization sweeping the universe nowadays. It is a tool called the internet. No thanks to a group of college programmers, you can now Google out a database query for a life-taker in 0.006 seconds (I have not tried this myself before the NSA tags my poor ISP). Better yet, the beauty of social networking reveals itself here. Isn’t there a group page on Facebook for this class of people? If you do find out, let me know. You might try checking under Rent-A-Hitman. The only problem with this tack might be the fact that Nigerian assassins are not usually computer literate according to Nollywood. Have you ever seen an assassin pause in his stride to use a Nokia E71 to check Nokia Maps while on a mission? Neither have I.

The last choice? Do it yourself. But this is generally assumed to be the dumbest route to take. After all why rot away in jail under the tag of “Awaiting Trial” under a justice system that will never review your case when you can get someone to do the dirty deed? With their amazing lack of forensics the least thing to worry about will be any form of arrest from the Police (who’ll rather go ahead to detain Mr. A’s grandmother for a remark she made at his birth). Worrying about the spirit of the deceased haunting you is an even greater fear.

Whatever option you choose whether A, B or C, the question of payment next comes into question. How much really is a human life worth? I have absolutely no idea of the current exchange rates in that quarter but if you ask me, I’d say human life is priceless.

And therein lies the gist of this long tale of mine. Series of questions march back and forth through my mind. Who amongst us can by a single act of his own create life out of nothing? Does bearing forth a child give you the right to treat that child’s life as you please? For even in the process of procreation we ought to think of the responsibilities being thrust on us. By this act we have been made “creators” as well, a testament to the biblical statement that says “we are created in His image and likeness”. We ought to be like Him in everything, yes even forgiveness.

We should value not just the lives that have been given to us but that of each and everyone around us, born and unborn. For this life is just too precious. It isn’t ours to create and take at will.

This reminds me of a joke. A scientist challenged God by saying that mankind had become so good at science so much so that God wasn’t needed anymore. To demonstrate this, the scientist knelt down, scooped some soil from the earth and began “creating” his own human being out of it. But at this point God tapped him on the shoulder and said “No, no my son. Use your own soil first.”

The moral of my story? To err is human, to forgive divine. Like the Yorubas who are prone to making prayers out of every sentence, “May we never have either the cause or the desire to take a human life…”

PS: Photo refers to a videogame and is courtesy of UbiSoft. It has no implied connections with this post...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Letting Go Of Ro…

…is going to be one of the hardest things I’m ever going to do. If I had a choice, I’d still keep on at trying to let her see things my way. But I have decided to give up today. I sense we are not meant to be.

You know how it is when you see someone for 14 days and you never take note of them? Then one day, POW!! You look again and then you see her. That’s how it was between Ro and me.

NYSC camp in Ekiti State was the arena in which we met. N.Y.S.C. What a camp…!!!The adventurous came to catch fun, the wise ones guard their hearts, the dim-witted get heartbreaks for all their pain while the rest of us complain. I belonged to the last category, you see.

I knew everyone in my platoon but I didn’t feel like mixing much. They knew me as the guy who would ask whenever we went on Parade: “What is the essence of NYSC? Why don’t they just pay us the full allowee? Then set us free and let us be?”

I guess I must have made a mark with these constant dissenting remarks. But that was hardly the way to charm them ladies. “The guy who always asked what the essence is” is how one of the females in my former platoon still remembers me.

Sitting in my hostel room the very last week, the soldiers came to chase us out with sticks. I flew out of the room in a rage, too angry even to speak. But my rebellious heart wasn’t silent “So they wanted me to attend a dumb lecture? Ok, let’s wait and see”, I thought as I sat under a tree.

Then I looked up and saw her as she approached me. Closer in height to short than average, plump but not really fat, wearing glasses. And after I gave her a couple of glances, she came close and joined me under the tree. I made a mental note: she is indeed pretty.

And then slowly we broke the ice, talking as if we’d known each other all our lives. Even when the soldiers came to shoo us inside the hall we still kept each other company. The resource person giving the lecture might as well have been invincible because regardless of what he said all I saw was she.

And so a pattern was born. We’d walk around talking in turn after our lectures were done. Wondering why we’d never noticed each other before even though we were in the same platoon. And she was the prettiest and smartest of them all, I could have sworn. She was all that a woman should mean to me.

It was awkward at first, as we put ourselves to test. Me, acting all gentlemanly, she like a queen. Me turning down her offers to buy me anything like I was taught since birth. There were no strings attached but in my mind somewhere at the back, ran that saying around wisdom’s track: Beware the lunch that is free.

Then like all good things do, the last 7 days came to an end and as I packed my bags my sister’s words rang true: “Be mindful of love on the NYSC camp because what the call-up letter has put together, the posting letter shall put asunder.” But that was farthest from my mind as they called out my number and not realising that would separate us, I waved my letter with glee.

Finally! No more "Corper weeee, corper waaaa!" No more otondo and “sucking the breast of Philomena”. But I would miss the refrain: “Who give you belle? RSM!!!” For indeed that was the one song that he was most uncomfortable with, seeing as he - the RSM - was indeed randy.

Then I went looking for Ro, just to her my letter to show. And when she called out where she was posted to, my face immediately lost its glow. For she has been sent far from me, to that much-sought-after yet dreaded city, Ado-Ekiti.

We would talk on the phone the next night and many others to come. Our friendship still tried to retain its spark but the distance and service year’s frustrations put it under serious attack. And after a while things turned around and we couldn’t exactly get them back. I changed and Ro changed. And we both turned out different from how we used to be.

I recall the silly things I’ve done while trying to get her attention. Even going so far as travelling on the spur of the moment to see her, keeping her company in the Lagos University Morbid Anatomy mortuary section. But as I sat down watching the blood-filled test-tube in a centrifuge turn, reality slowly began to dawn. The fact that my company wasn’t needed was indeed very glaring for all to see.

It’s been two years now and though I’ve tried to keep in touch, Ro doesn’t seem to want to have anything to do with me much. We were just friends even though I wanted more. But I never really knew what to say and when I would try to she didn’t want to hear such. Just two years yet we have changed so much. How ironic; I’m still looking for a job, she’d doing her Ph.D.

My last text message to her read:
Ro, I miss you badly. I wish we could talk, laugh, be friends just like we used to. But I feel like you keep pushing me away because you don’t need me anymore. All I can say is that I’ll still be here whenever you need me. I miss you.

Something told me she was meant to be the one. Letting go of Ro is the hardest thing I’ve ever done…