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Untold Lessons From Last Monday

By Francis Ewherido

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female heir

Last Monday was sharply different for me. The screen of my phone went blank over the weekend. Consequently, I was also blank for much of the weekend. It is not as if I am addicted to phones. I use it basically for calls, emails, messages and getting knowledge from responsible and informative online sources.

I only use one handset because, like a spouse, I cannot handle two. After losing two phones when I was using two handsets, I started using only one and I have not misplaced any in the last 15 years. Phone manufacturers had people like me in mind and started making phones with provision for dual Sims. That helped me to partly overcome the problem when there is poor network from one provider, the primary reason why some people have more than one phone number.

Switching and mastering the usage of Nokia, blackberry and other brands was too much stress for me and once I got used to android, I never switched again. In those days, I would not have repaired the phone. I would simply have gone to get a new phone. I was very intolerant of the disruption caused by faulty electronics. When one technician saw that my faulty deep freezer was full of foodstuff and wanted to use the opportunity to hold me to ransom, I called off his bluff. I went and bought a new freezer, dropped three post-dated cheques with the people I buy electronics from and came home with it. These days, the first option is to repair.

On Monday morning, instead of the usual Monday morning routine, I headed for Computer Village, Lagos. On entering the car, I noticed that I forgot my wallet, but I did not bother since my wife was with me and she was driving. I did not need my driver’s license, or so I thought. Lesson number one, always go out carrying an identification. I broke the same rule I drive into my children’s head because I was with my wife. What if the NLC demonstration was that day, turned rowdy and I was arrested?

When we got to the mall, where we usually parked, I wanted to go with her as usual, but she said the building where the repairer had his office was a multi-storey building. My right knee is still healing, so I do not climb beyond first floor for now. Lessons number two: Do not assume when facts are available. I assumed we were going to the usual place on the ground floor. I should have asked my wife at home. Assumption makes even the most sensible or intelligent people look foolish and do foolish things. As I wrote in my book, Life Lessons from Mudipapa, the legendary philosopher, Aristotle, assumed that women had fewer teeth than men, but he was married twice and also had a daughter and could easily have verified his assertion. He goofed because he assumed.

That said, the Lagos State Government needs to review its approval laws for public buildings to make multi-storey buildings user-friendly for the disabled, physically challenged and temporary physically challenged people. I spent three months in India. Every public building with more than three floors I entered had a functional lift. I do not want to mention Europe and America. Using the staircase should be an option not by compulsion. The lifts must also be functional. I have climbed 20 floors and 13 floors, respectively, in Lagos because the lifts were bad. I was younger and much fitter then. Now, I will simply abort the trip and walk away.

When my wife was leaving the mall, I remembered you pay to use the toilet even to do the “small one” (urinate). I collected N400 from her just in case I needed to use the toilet. After she left, I remembered I had nothing to keep me busy; no phone, book, newspaper, etc. I also had no money to engage in any activity. I was totally unprepared for the period I would be waiting. Lessons three: Always be prepared and take more money than you need. It is better to bring back the money than be stranded.

It also occurred to me that I was incommunicado. There was no phone to communicate with my wife or the rest of the world. I thought of paying a guy sharing the table with me to use his phone to reach my wife. Then I remembered stories of people who got into trouble because their phone numbers were found on certain call logs. Apart from obvious emergency, I will not allow a stranger to use my phone with the situation in the country right now. I lamented not borrowing the last daughter’s phone. But it never occurred to me that I would be separated from my wife during the trip. Lesson four: Prepare for the unexpected.

I resent idleness. Without a phone, book and money, I decided to get busy by observing my environment, another information gathering technique that we were taught in school. The mall is very neat and beautiful like malls abroad. The cleaners were cleaning per second. Two people littered the floor. Within a minute that I was distracted the bottle of water and used tissue had disappeared before I looked again. Then I asked myself, why can’t the whole of Lagos be clean like this? Then I learnt the fifth lesson. The management of the mall is intentional and deliberate about keeping the mall clean. Lagosians, the Lagos State and local governments need to be intentional and deliberate to make Lagos clean all round, not in patches.

 I couple passed with their baby. The husband was fully dressed in Kaftan and the baby girl was all dressed up, but the wife was wearing bum shorts and a skimpy top in a mall! You know why? She has flawless skin and she wanted the world to know. Why will a man be fully dressed and allow his wife to go out with him half naked? When the hawks hover around and anyone succeeds in plucking her, even if once, you cry blue murder that “my wife cheated on me.” Lesson six: A wife a private property, an asset, guard her jealously.

 After what looked like an eternity my wife showed up to my relief. Time to go to home. As a rule I use the toilet before the leaving the house and I also use the toilet before departing from anywhere I go to. You never know with Lagos traffic. The mall charges N100 per entry whether you are doing the “big one” or “small one.” The toilets were very neat. After washing my hands, I wanted to dry them. The hand dryer was faulty. They had no hand toilet paper to dry hands, which is the minimum standard abroad. There was also no toilet paper in the toilet because I suspect people take them away. I then asked for tissue. They gave me the cheapest of tissue I have ever seen. I was shocked. After paying N100 just to “piss?” Seventh lessons: Maintain standards all the way, pay attention to details and give people value for their money.

It was already after 3pm. I am pre-diabetic, but I do not take drug. I use food to control my blood sugar. My wife asked if we should buy food. “Mee? After spending money I did not budget for fixing my phone, N1,600 for parking ticket for and another N200 for the two times I used the toilet. I will eat when I get home. Just buy me a bottle of coke so that if my blood sugar drops suddenly before we get home, half a bottle of coke will take care of it.” Lesson eight: Prepare for medical emergency.

When we got home I was expecting my usual soup and blended oat. I saw eba, my former addiction, which I jettisoned to control blood sugar. Once in a while cannot cause damage. Instead of getting angry, I descended on it and had my lunch/dinner. Lesson nine: Marriage is full of landmines. Diffuse the ones you see. At some point in my marriage, I decided that food will never cause a rift between my wife and I have stuck to that. Final lesson: Husband, eat whatever your wife sets before you. Wife: By now you should know what your husband likes. But in unusual situations, both of you should show understanding.

That was my last Monday. In the night, did EKEDC give me light to allow me sleep off the stress? For where!

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