BRAIN SURGERY ON THE HIGHWAY
by Rotimi Ogunjobi
(First published in Queens Quarterly Spring Edition 2002; Queens University , Canada)
It was an opportunity too good to miss. An opportunity far greater than he could ever have wished for at this time of the day in a busy Lagos bus. A real lunatic seated beside the Christian evangelist had apparently inspired in the other a string of religious songs, given impetus by the insistence of the lunatic on clapping and shrilly singing along. An acid but nervous sermon had followed. A sermon which had caused a great deal of ruckus between the preacher and a Muslim cleric on the bus. The bus had consequently come alive with approbation and encouragement from all angles. A warm audience: a showman's greatest dream.
The lean tall man rose from his seat like a neat magic trick. Behind a face glistening with sweat, body oil and an affected good humour,desperation strained to be let free. He wiped his face with a grubby handkerchief and cleared his throat. Then he held aloft a black cheap imitation leather bag for all to see. It was a welcome diversion from a returning boredom and all eyes turned in his direction. Just what he wanted.
'Good morning to you all brothers and sisters; fathers and mothers in this bus. All of you chairmen , chairwomen and good members of the standing committee', he announced in a well practiced voice which carried well to all points in the cramped space.
' My name is Doctor, Professor, General Nwawu'. A pause for effect. 'Now a lot of people will be wondering what an important man like me is doing in a bus such as this. The reason is that my hobby is to sell things. Now you should be wondering what sort of things I sell. The answer is that I sell anything; everything. Selling is my hobby. It is also my job'
'If you are a manufacturer. Whatever it is that you make, I will sell it for you as long as it is not stolen. My hobby is selling. Bring your things to me and I will sell them for you and give you your money. It is as simple as that. I will sell your things on radio, television, satellite and even on a bus such as this. I know my job; and I do it well'.
'Some of you may even have children that are so stupid that you always wonder what to do with them. You send them to school, they refuse to stay. You send them to the farm, they eat all your maize and go to sleep. You send them into the street to sell and they return home with another person's carton of broken eggs. Now what can you do with such a child. No; don't give them away to the herbalists to make juju sacrifice with. Bring them to me. I will carry them to the market, sell them for you and give you your money. It is as simple as that. My job is to sell'
Peals of laughter ran through the crowd. Good; he now had an attentive crowd. The introduction was most important. Rather like the first incision in a lobotomy . A careless cut and that was all. No second chance. In this operation however, the crowd was the undesirable growth from which he needed to recover the useful part : money. Now to really get into doing the main job ........ CONTINUED
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