You can never truly know for sure if you can trust someone until you trust them. This is a long age principle for me, which probably explains my bunch of friends; the good, the bad, the ugly, the religious and the very-bad. Loyalty and love come in mysterious ways. I don’t take the chance of friendship and love away from people without them earning the distance, besides, everyone has their own roles in our lives. Have you ever been stuck in ‘area boys’ muddle? Believe me, it’s that your ‘gee’ in the park that can neatly pack such dung for you. When you need book helps, you fetch your nerds; when you want to fight your demons, you run to the holy fellows (though I have in my short-long experience come to agree that no one is righteous, no not one). I am sure you get the picture. Life’s never complete at one corner, if you don’t move you might never know. Little wonder the old Yiddish saying, “to a worm in horseradish, the world is horseradish”.
Back to my kind of trust. I give a lot of trust out easily; I accompany the package with plenty free flowing love and faith too. I love freedom, trusting keeps my wings open and flying and free. The thing about trust which is by far a costly compliment to bestow on anyone is that like ceramics, it can shatter and be glued together almost in shape, but it can only be ‘almost’ because the rough edges and the cracks remain.
Yesterday was different. I can deal with a cheating girlfriend or a back-stabbing boyfriend, or a back-stabbing boyfriend that cheats with a cheating girlfriend. I can equally deal with a lecturer that promises the exams will be a walk over because he attended classes just three times out of fifteen in an entire semester, yet he brings an examination that is totally unrelated to the ninety-minute classes he managed to hold altogether. I can forgive him because he probably doesn’t want to miss us when we are gone so he delights in keeping us in school longer than required. Not everyone believes the young should grow; you can see that in the face of our politics, where men in their eighties are killing for a government sit. Whatever happened to the youths being the future!
Anna has been a friend for three years, though we only see face to face once or twice in about two weeks, Lagos is a small state occupied mostly by water and sand filled islands yet housing over 22 million of the world population, this means you don’t get to see people you wish to as often as you desire. It’s either the traffic is frustrating you or your job is mortifying you or worst still you have been a victim of broad daylight robbery with hot slaps from a dried palm, I think the dried palm must be a key requirement in their CV, whatever is keeping you busy is hardly ever giving you the joy to go hitting up friends. So, we resort to video calls or pass on our messages via the busy body neighbours if we happen to know any.
The day Ann talked about getting a fairly used mini laptop from Ikeja, I didn’t quite pay attention. Then she mentioned it a second and a third time. It suddenly became an obvious necessity that I sorted that out for her. For someone that closes work by 5pm and works on the island which is about 30 minutes’ drive to the mainland on a very good day and 5 hours’ drive on a very bad day of traffic, the bad day which happened to be every day, I needed to figure a way to help. Her pushing the request my way I think has a lot to do also with the fallible mentality that ladies cannot get good electronic gadgets themselves, they always need a man to do it. Whoever sold this ideology that all men are electrical and electronics experts to nearly the entire world population at the same time, needs to also help the world and pitch repentance to Satan (or whoever you believe the bad guy is) so he can just apologize to God and let’s all go back to when we were naked in Eden playing with a lion’s mane.
Friday was a lucky day for us, my boss travelled, this means I get to close by 4pm prompt, which is the official hour unlike other days I get to stay back till my boss leaves. I don’t leave my boss behind at work in all the three companies I have worked so far, I feel this sense of responsibility owed to them.
I was at Ikeja by 4:40pm pushing through the Naira hungry eyes and hands always stretched to grab at you and convince you into buying stuff that were never on your checklist. Lately they don’t grab at customers, they grab at the butts of beautiful girls in the markets. The ugly ladies are feeling lucky. It started as a joke until I learned of the protest in Yaba for their butts to be left for the rightful owners. The genesis of our problem is beyond the devil and eve. It still amazes me how amid this heated terrorism and dirty politics in Nigeria, people find time to leave whatever they came to trade and start grabbing and sizing butts in the markets. The last time I checked, marijuana was hardly the cause of lack of common sense. So what exactly is the problem with my ‘not too young to run’ generation?
Ikeja is one market in Lagos that is notoriously known for selling ‘fufu’ or ‘Amala’ for a Samsung phone after payment. However, they manage to do the swap right in your presence is still subject to physical and spiritual investigation. Sometimes I am tempted to admire the smartness and creativity of these guys if only they can channel it to our economic good as a country since the government has told us officially, they are clueless on how to solve the problems of Nigeria and therefore taken to the defense of calling Nigerian youths ‘lazy’.
The laptop seller was an Igbo man, so was I. Coming from the same tribe simply means one thing, he will try to play the counter psychology game of ‘I won’t cheat you’ on me. Of course, he inflated the price and appealed for my trust to believe I was getting the best rate in the world, he was partly claiming he was nearly making a loss and how he doesn’t mind because I was his brother. Well, it doesn’t work on me, I always know the market value beforehand. My new-found brother in Ikeja gave me a rate of #90,000 because It was me, and I ended up paying him #50,000 the actual value because it was him and I know his kind.
I called Ann the moment I got it and headed to her place, she said her younger sister that came in 3 nights ago would be in the house, I have never met her before, and she never mentioned about her. When I got to the small bungalow with two apartments, I called her that I was at the door, she raised her voice above the boisterous environment pleading I should wait up for her for about 10 minutes, explaining her sister was not at home anymore and herself was already very close to the house. I sat on the pavement and waited, about 15 mins later, I could still hear the two girls and the boy I saw dash behind the compound laugh for the second time.
“Why did she ask you to leave?” the boy giggled
I didn’t quite hear the response and they chorused a muffled laugh.
Chinaza! Chinaza!! I could hear a neighbour call, everywhere was silent, the laugh died. A brief chatter followed a few seconds later. Just then Ann alighted from the ‘keke’ she had boarded, beaming in her night make up.
‘Sorry I kept you waiting’ she smiled
‘it’s not a problem, welcome.’ I nodded and tapped her shoulder
‘I know you will like the one I bought; I toured the whole Ikeja to get this one’ I explained as she opened the door
‘I trust you Joor, I know what you can do’ she hugged me and smiled. She always smiles, I consider her saintly, one of those I could go the extra miles for.
‘So where did my sister in-law go by this time of the night?’ I quizzed in honest curiosity
‘So, what’s the make you bought?’
The door cracked open and an average chubby young girl of about 17 years walked in.
‘Aunty good evening’ she genuflects slightly
‘Chinaza, what’s up?
‘Fine, welcome’ she walked past us into the kitchen. This was the same girl, I saw when I stepped in, the name is now familiar all thanks to the neighbour that was calling from the backyard. I felt a chill in me. Why would Ann not allow me into the house or best still just tell the sister to take the palmtop from me when I get to the house? She didn’t want me to meet her alone? Was it for fear of me, or the young girl, or herself?
‘Annie! I will be leaving now’ I called out from the sitting room.
‘Hold on, I will be out soon, let me change into something light’ she laughed
I knew I can’t stand her should she come out ‘it’s late already, good night’
I walked out of the house slowly, thinking, was I not to be trusted? Or is it just the fact that people cannot give what they don’t have? If you don’t have trust in yourself, you can never give it.
I can better relate to the African adage which cautions, ‘Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt’ if you are too kind and easy, people think you have ulterior motives.
What’s love without trust? Void.
A discomfort grew in me that night, one I still fight to shake off. I have this nagging hollow that makes me feel it’s suicidal to still believe in someone who doesn’t believe in me.