One afternoon, in front of a shopping mall, I met a sight that, up till now, still gives me concern. Coming out of the mall and moving to my car, a man pursued me, raising his right hand and gesturing I stopped. The desperation in the raised hand and the strides with which he was making his way towards me got me scared. So, I increased my pace and ran into my car before he could get to me. I started my car and was about driving off when I heard him call my name. No. It was my nickname that he called. He had got beside my car, knocking on the side window; urging me to wind down.
Peering through the side window, I could only see a burly of a man, slightly stooped and with a pair of wild eyes that gave him a strange presence. I didn’t know this strange-looking man. However, the sound of ‘JIEN’, the nickname my friends called me in high school, tamed my fear. It was then that I reasoned that a man who knew me beyond my first name, down to my nickname, might have had a more than casual claim to my identity.
This thought gave me the courage to roll the window down to hear what the man had to say. I even opened the door for him. Now, don’t confuse what happened here with the many doors and windows you have opened for people in the past. What happened here is the beginning of the story you’re about to read; the story that has been giving me concerns up till now.
Inside my car, it turned out that the strange man was never a stranger. His name is Tobi, an old schoolmate. Tobi was my junior in school. He was a child prodigy, the popular junior boy that brought fame and acclaim to our college. Intelligent beyond measure, we called him Mr. Smart. Yet, it took a while to arrive at the familiar knowledge of him, his true identity and his personal story. The reason is not that he had changed. Oh my God! He is every bit Tobi. His looks, bearing and even his personality quirks are all there for anyone to see. So, how could I have missed all those traits?
Once, he was seated in my car, my first move was to apologize to him. I told him I was sorry for making him a stranger and even running away from him. I told him not to see in my action the arrogance of a few spoilt men who, blessed with little success, tend to treat former friends as foes. But Tobi would not allow me continue with the narrative, my apologia. He merely smiled, a weak furtive smile, and then went on to cut me short with an unexpected remark.
“Flight is the most predictable human reaction toward ghost or paranormal reality. So, why should you apologize if you see a ghost and run away?” I could not believe my ears when he told me this. “Is he a ghost or what?” I said this to myself. At that instance, as if to seal the fear in my heart, I heard a whir sound. It was my car. The central lock just clicked. That was when I grew pale with fear. My stomach churned. But there is no running away this time around. So, for three hours, my fate was locked with him inside my car as I listened to his tales of woe and beleaguered destiny. By the time he was done telling me and left my car, my mood was a disaster. I was in rage, so angry and annoyed with him.
On my drive back home, I kept asking myself: “how could people destroy themselves so easily? How could they?” Tobi left with some friends for Europe in the middle of his university education. He wanted to be a professional footballer and here laid the tragedy in his story; it was a tragedy of choice. Tobi made a choice against education. He told me he didn’t see his survival coming through education. Education held for him a forlorn prospect, a life without promise and future.
He mentioned graduates, many of them with first class results, who are still searching for survival and a living. He was convinced that education was not his thing; therefore, he left education. He was a brilliant student, a star in his class. In his former school, the exams and records were there to prove his true greatness. His grade point as at the time he left was first class. In fact, he left behind a promising academic life. His dream of Eldorado, the idyllic land of wealth and fortune primed him for Europe but Tobi would never set his foot on the European soil. He would never.
Decision making is tough, especially when we are convinced it’s the best choice. Leaving through a wrong decision is worse. Nice work
A wonderful piece, I guess this is not the end?
Life and it lessons, I hope this has a continuation.