The day had broken out a bit on the dull side. The memory of the previous day’s stress came at me in some fury. ‘Life’s work,’ I recalled Temisan Awani, a female friend of mine, once said to me. I felt consoled. ‘Acquiring wisdom is even a greater task,’ she had concluded that day, before walking away.
Disagreeing with her thoughts on wisdom never came to mind but it twisted my mood by one hundred and eighty degree. I rolled out of bed in a small struggle. The electricity authority, true to its quality, had misbehaved in the middle of the night. The discomfort of their non-performance reduced the joy and reinvigoration of sleep by two-thirds.
Half an hour later, I had driven through the budding traffic and was in the office again. A few hours later, I sat slunk in my seat, lost, a little drained of strength. I had been snowed under with several tasks and deliverables, beginning from the early hours of the day. I had no idea that lunch hour had come and gone with the wind. And, I was yet to have a meal for the day. Covering the surface of my desk were several tasks. They were pleading for some attention. The right side of my head pained, but I did not feel it was time to pull the curtains for the day.
The clock chimed half four. Evening was pushing for acceptance. The unrelenting sunlight was busy halting the evening’s approach, and was refusing it entry. The trill sound from the intercom brought me out of my reverie. It was the reception. Charles had come to see me. I wondered why he had chosen to come over that steaming hot afternoon. Well, I opted to wait for him.
Charles has been my friend for many years. We ran through primary and high schools together. I called his home my home. And, my home got similar kind of referral. University education separated us. I went over to the East side of the Niger while he stayed back enjoying the cool breezy environment of the Lagoon Front of the University of Lagos.
Charles is the only child of his parents. So, he has no knowledge of what it means to struggle for parental love and affection with anyone. Charles has that in excess. In fact, sometimes, it can be a bit trying observing the way he snuggles his mother. Even at almost forty. Mother and son have a bond many have tried with fail to describe.
Straight after university, Charles got a job with an oil services company. I settled down to one in a financial institution. After two years, Charles left the shores of Nigeria for further studies in the United States. At the end of four years, he came home with two masters degree; one in Business Administration and the other, in Finance. For Charles, life (it’s a journey) is only for the prepared. Opportunities, he would argue, will certainly come. Charles has no time to think of life in terms of luck. He has his arguments. Luck is something that has its roots and steeply so, in probability. Like death. Strangely enough – both death and luck are the twin sides of an unloaded coin waiting to be tossed. The former is bad and, the latter, is good fortune. They both have the same chance of occurrence, he would bicker. So, a wait for luck is, in a sense, a wait for death. He would rather meet with luck all set, although he knows not when.
‘Tony,’ he called, just as he settled his six feet two inches frame on the straight-backed chair in front of me. He looked a bit tired and leaner. Our mitts met halfway across my desk. ‘It’s been a while,’ he informed, as his eyes darted about my office.
‘What can I say?’ I asked. In that instant, my mind raced to Sean Amadi of Brila FM. I smiled. It was a bit limp. I had other worries. ‘Well, for some time now I’ve been covered by a thick fog called work… I chose to be here, you know. So, I am not complaining.’
‘I wish we could trade places, Tony,’ he informed. He looked out of depth.
‘Mind what you wish for, Charles… for some glittering objects truly have no shine if only you take a closer look.’
‘I know what I mean, Tony, trust me,’ he said
‘Is anything eating your insides?’
‘Do you remember John?’ he threw at me.
‘Isn’t he the same guy from the United States like you, hmmm?’
‘That lad is beating hard on my track, elbowing me out of it,’ Charles said. This time I noticed his well-mixed half-Nigerian and half-American accent. ‘He’s making life in the office a bit awful with his sense of competition,’ he added. Charles had only just resumed work six months earlier in one of the banks with head office along the Marina.