The cold metal touched my temple, but I knew it was there before I even felt the frigid bite. Naturally, I kept walking.
The man walking beside me (same fella with the metal thing, by the way) had no face. I mean, he had one (who doesn’t nowadays?), but it was well-hidden, conspiring with the darkness and the smelly hoodie that had seen better days to give a vision of eye-glint, a very, very oily nose, and not much else.
He could be a Kola, I imagined. Or a Kunle. Perhaps a name with a hard R.
Anyway. Cold metal on temple. Me, walking like I didn’t feel a thing.
You see, I was used to this sort of thing: the casual robbery on Shomolu roads, the gentle fleecing, done with a phlegmatic approach (and a throat filled with phlegm), a rigid prodding to the temple, to the back, sometimes with a gun, most times with a knife, and one other time with a surprisingly erect banana: comot all the thing wey dey your pocket and nothing go do you.
Gun to your head, what are your goals for 2017?
Sorry. I wasn’t asking you. I’m saying that’s what the smelly man with the gun was asking me. Like this.
‘Gun to your head,’ he said, applying 20.93% more pressure at the inflection of head, ‘what are your goals for 2017?’
I breathed. This was going to be easy. I had a diary for this sort of thing.
‘How long do you have, sir?’ I asked. Politeness was also my thing.
I breathed again.
See, 2017 promised me nothing but wahala. I’ll give it that — it was pretty upfront, like a husband going out for a night with the boys.
It started so well, my God.
I anticipated the year, too: realizing that it would be incredibly disastrous to be in a bad mood this year (seeing as the government was already bad news as it was), I modified my existence along very simple ideas.
I took up a new job in the first quarter of the year (after a brief debate with myself, as this was supposed to be the year I stopped working professionally in favor of creative pursuits), because my siblings reached a new educational milestone and this was just not the time to be rolling dice with my career. I enjoyed the role — it allowed me do the things that came naturally to me, and I recruited a team of young men and women that I am proud of — probably my most interesting hires to date.
I gave a lot of talks, too! Starting with a TEDx Talk (my first of many, I hope!), I also talked at an event organized by the British Council, spoke to music graduates at the MUSON center, at the DigiClan event (for digital marketers), the Social Media Conference in Ibadan. I exhibited my comics and illustrations (for the first time ever) in Abuja, was invited to my first podcast ever (ha! This, from a guy who thinks most podcasts are noise!), got interviewed in arts and literature magazines.
You get the idea. I was getting coverage!
(I also hit 10,000 followers on Twitter. This is my favorite achievement of the year — if you don’t agree, well — you don’t have 10,000 followers, so…)
My friend from university reminded me that in 300 level, when asked to write a business proposal for a company as part of a project, I wrote about the Animation Company I would build. (I wrote more indepth than the assignment required, then refused to submit, as I didn’t want my dream to be ‘graded’ without context. Heh.)
That set off a spark in my chest, and I sent an email to an Animation Company in South Africa. They loved my work (what little of it I’d done), and invited me to come work with them in 2018!
I’m going to South Africa!
I fell in love. Even better — she fell in love with me, too!
The most intriguing films give the protagonist a difficult challenge to surmount, and if the protagonist has no real challenge or ordeal, the movie is judged to be ‘weak,’ and the protagonist herself runs the risk of becoming a one-dimensional character.
The point here is: I may be a passer-by in the great stage that is this planet, but I’m the protagonist in my own life, dammit.
As such, the Great Director in the sky did not like the idea of me coasting through the year unchallenged.
Nope, he did not. At all.
My aunty had a trailer accident in the middle of the worst financial event of my life. She was coming back from a business trip and was on the wrong side of the road and a trailer tried to occupy the same space as her bus. Mother Nature, displeased with that sort of arrangement, resolved it as only she knew how: my aunt, T-boned.
(Backstory: she paid for most of the first wave of costs that ensured I stayed in school in 100 level.)
I called her and heard her pretending to be brave on the other end of the phone.
I called the people holding my money. When? I asked. Soon, they said. But that was untrue.
She died, and for her burial, I took a PayLater loan to pitch in for her coffin. I was broken, but I sat at my desk and worked.
My invitation to South Africa still in the mail, I realized I would no longer be able to make it. Time was drawing nigh, and I had not the means to go…
I sent in an email saying, hey guys, something just happened right now, and as such I thank you for the invitation, but I do not think I can make it anymore.
What did they do? They sent me an offer letter, signed, and asked me to take as much time to fix things in Nigeria before bothering about the next step — ‘we’re really excited about your coming over, and as a symbol of our seriousness, we’re emailing you your offer letter — usually we sign these when you’re in South Africa…’
So. Looks like I’m still going after all. Whew.
This year, I lost a relative, became financially insolvent (and realized how close to the bottom I’d been all along), didn’t get to punch the nose right off the people I wanted to de-nose so bad, but all in all? When you subtract small, add small, divide some and carry the remainder, it was a pretty great year for me.
Weird, I’ve only realized it this instant, while typing this.
‘One goal,’ I tell the man with the cold metal now pressed to the back of my head. ‘The goal was to have no goal.’
‘Nice,’ his muffled voice said. ‘How did that go?’
‘Went well,’ this, I said airily. ‘I achieved things that weren’t goals, but were nice nonetheless.’
‘So. Good year?’
‘Good year,’ I agreed. ‘Fucking hell. It was a good year.’
Then he released me, and as he walked away and ahead of me, I saw that he was holding a metal banana.