My wife’s sound asleep next to me, so I sneak out to begin my day. Time had taught me that the best of life happens in silence. I run quickly to my sanctuary, my study – the engine-room from which I control my worlds; banishing the past further with the power of a present sold out to the future. While I’m there, I resist the hurry of the clock and gaze at the stars, grateful to the powers that hoisted them. Ideas begin to storm down the narrow corridor of my skull, so I head to my desk! One thing bitter experience had stamped on my mind: never let an idea – no matter how small – sift through the net of your mind.
Time moves briskly in my study – and two hours are soon gone. I don’t regret how long I was there for but other work might just suffer – unless I hurry! I climb down to the third floor of my bungalow to find my first son’s been making the most of the night too. His school’s on break but he won’t halt work on his Masters thesis. He’d always tell his brother to “save some sleep for the grave”. And, although they display a very different set of predispositions, I’m always proud of my boys. And my girl, every bit like her mother – beautiful, compellingly graceful and she questions my actions less.
By 6.30, I’m all dressed for my meeting. Laolu greets me at the door, takes my briefcase and his place in the front seat. His job-description may read “driver”, but he does a little more than accompany me about. It’s hard to see the sense in buying a car I cannot drive. My driver-turned-PA reminds me to stay off the highway – but I ignore with a kind smile. He knows it’s a long shot; I loved the highway-scenery too much to comply.
We are soon at my office complex – and ahead of schedule too. In fact, we’re so early I catch Akin – the janitor – doing his rounds. My office was usually the last room he touched – and the one in which he spent the most time. He almost freezes in shock as I grab the napkin and start cleaning the seats. Why should it appear strange that a CEO would clean his own office? If anything, I was the lucky one – to get a golden chance to remind myself of the bliss of servitude!
My meeting commences and everyone’s eager to be heard. The rudeness of the youngest partner becomes unbearable as we hit some sensitive issues. He is definitely not the richest; neither is he the most pivotal. As such, great is my temptation to shut him up but old-age teaches patience. Rewardingly, for every time I hold my tongue, at least two other people stand up to slam his arrogance. It’s a long meeting – and the break is given corresponding duration. I decide to spend mine watching my daughter defend her term paper. Telling her before-hand would only make her nervous – that being one risk too great.
As usual, I send for Laolu and we drive down to her school as quickly as (legally) possible. The jean-jacket and ‘cabbie’ hat in my office closet do a good job of engulfing me in youth; blending in with grey hair can be a tad difficult. I find unrivalled inspiration in her sincere desire for excellence. Still, over and above her lofty grades, I had always desired to watch her roam free in her own world. I’d hate to look back on life from the edge of my grave and find that I never knew my own daughter. As such, this is not the first of such reconnaissance trips. While I could always tell my boys’ concerns and inclinations from their approaches to team activities or response to jokes, my girl had a different fabric.
She does brilliantly and I can’t shake the temptation to dump my disguise to give her a mighty big hug. So, with a great sense of achievement, I head back to the office – all smiles! I’m soon back to my meeting. All participants seem refreshed, so we hit a few more major issues, cross the “I”s, dot the “T”s and call it quits. I return to my office to process a few thoughts and plan for tomorrow. Characteristically, my table is scanty; procrastination is one thief I locked up long ago. It’s worth more fighting tomorrow’s challenges than yesterday’s mistakes. In that light, I send for the new intern we just took. Before his arrival, I pick the phone and call my wife. I never quite understood how she did it but she always sounded excited to hear my husky voice. I ask her how things are at the mall – and, being my head-accountant, brief her on the most recent transactions. She seems enthusiastic about the modifications to our course; her objections usually wait till I get home. We’ll see about that this time!
When the lad finally shows up, I take one glance at him and I’m reminded of whom I once was. Many years ago, I was just like him with – unfulfilled aspirations and an apprehension devoid of self-confidence.
He is initially nervous but we soon begin to discuss. I had learnt not to make a foreground of a background. So, I ask him a few questions – more about his future than his past. I’m impressed by the answers of a kid who has just the right motivation to succeed. Time would smoothen out the rough edges. As he leaves, I ring up the HR-manager asking for a weekly report of his progress – and also, for his salary to be doubled. The other half could be paid into an account without his knowledge. At his age, I wasn’t the most prudent with cash; maybe I could add protecting him from himself to my todo-list.
When you’ve seen so many days, the next one moves just as quickly as the previous. Closing time for me was typically about an hour after everyone else had gone – and, even that was now upon me. Laolu walks in just as I pack my briefcase – his timing perfected by practice. Before I leave, I quickly log on to my favourite website [De-We-Stified] and share a few thoughts with the world. The site had always served to remind me that the beauty of life is in sharing – learning to hear others above oneself! Laolu picks my briefcase and jacket, as we head for the elevator. By the time I grab the door of my limited edition Toyota Avalon, my sleeves are rolled as high as my elbows to reveal a less-than-formal appearance – and my 24-karat platinum Citizen WR 200 eco-drive time-piece.
we drive for a bit, but I suddenly have a brain-wave as we approach the link-bridge. Though my neighbour burns his refuse in the open and always tossed beer-cans in my yard, getting his son a birthday gift may not be out of order! Life had taught me to love even the unlovable – and what better way to love than to give? Laolu suggests a gift and a big round cake for the young man. As we placed no prior order, getting one from the town’s best bakery proves to be quite an issue. Seeing as I hate to keep my ‘driver’ from his family, I cut him loose. I could get the kid’s gift on my own.
Some way between the parking lot and the shop, a roughly dressed man walks up to me waving a butcher’s knife and demanding my watch. I knew enough aikido to break his arm in four places – but I let him have his wish. Sometimes, nothing in life matters more than life itself.
The man at the gifts shop is a bit rude; he actually goes as far as slamming the door in my face. “I’m on break”, he yells. I just keep my cool and walk away. Of course, he doesn’t know I bought the gifts shop three weeks before he was hired. I’m greatly tempted to tell him – but then, maybe he doesn’t have to know! Thankfully, there’s one more place where I can get that same gift – though it’ll cost more.
I deliver the gift in person and the lad is almost beside himself. My eyes are about a ton in weight as I get back home and head for my study. There’s a reference form I have to fill out before sleeping. Putting my pen to paper, I’m sorely tempted to mention how wayward the boy (my cousin’s son) can be – but I resist. Instead, I put in the virtues I wish he had. Don’t say I just lied; say I just sent a message to his sub-conscious, hoping he reads it before handing it in.
The last “dinner-is-ready” buzz came in a few minutes ago. So, I hurriedly make for the dining area. In that rush, I stub my toe. It hurts so much I’m forced to bend over. Things change in a flash – and by the time I lift my gaze, my house is all different; clustered, warm and dark. I’m still trying to process the transformation when the puppet on my fridge door flies over and knocks me on the head. What in heaven’s name is going on? Stubbed toe, changing houses, flying puppets? I close my eyes briefly to take it all in and when they open, sense made its way through.
Alas, I had been dreaming again; the mansion, cars and status were all in my head – a lousy dream! In the real world, I’m no affluent CEO; I’m no model husband or father. I’m that same man I left behind – the one with perfectly tainted perfections and concealed insecurities!
So, slouched on the couch, clutched file now dropped to my feet and my dosing head having kissed the wall a few times, I wake to find myself back to the hustle; waiting to be attended to by seemingly unconcerned workers. I must have waited forever but what choice do I have? I really needed this job; maybe through it my dreams would come to be.
Have a blissful Christmas and New Year season