I was going about my business. Walking gently to school. I was late for early morning devotion. It had started raining, not yet cat and dog.
Then a classmate joined me in the street. “It’s raining,” he said. I replied “Yes, it is.” Then he said “Let’s get an okada before we get soaked.” “Good idea,” I innocently responded.
As we looked around for a bike he said to me “We are not going to pay for the service.” I said “How you mean we not paying for the service? Is your friend taking us?”
This kid smiled and said to me “We get the bike, he takes us to school, at the gate instead of paying for the fare, we run away like hard men…” “What? That is not right, not doing it,” I told him.
Instead of reasoning like me, kid looked me in the eye, poked his finger in my face and said “You are always acting like a hard man but you are a coward, really.” Did I hear right? I just had to say to him, “Listen fool. Am not a hard man. I am a nice guy. I make people laugh. Am no coward. Be careful what you ask for. It is not right to do such a thing.”
He was a trader and told him if somebody bought from him and refused to pay would he like it. “Forget that Jack, you just a coward. All talk no action.”
“Alright,” I laid it plain to him, “We are both seniors. We are vying for prefect positions – you for Labour prefect and I, for Social prefect. Screening comes up in a few days, and you sure you want to do this now. Have you thought about the consequences?”
He got quick to chide me “No consequences. We get to the gate and run away. No body even sees us. The bike man can’t follow us. He won’t know what is happening untill we gone. Coward! If you tough we do this.”
“OK, let’s do it. But not at the gate. We will take the bike man right into the devotion. If we do this, we do it right before every student and every teacher at the devotion this morning. Only this way or nothing. And I will allow you a head-start, to run first.”
“Let’s do it,” he said.
So we found a bike. I got on. He got on after me. And we rode right into devotion. Every student, every teacher was present at the compulsory morning devotion. We were late and we dared ride a bike in to disturb the peace of the morning – that was an offence on its own.
He came down. And stood instead of running. I came down next and stood for a second, looking straight into his eyes — the bike man was beckoning now for his money. Next thing he knew I took off like Usain Bolt distracting the devotion. As he attempted to follow, the alerted okada caught him by his pants like an angry police man. Then the whole supposedly pious congregation of students bust in laughter. He was caught. Was embarrassed. He payed twice our fare.
That was the last time he ever called me a coward.
Be careful what you wish for —
*Okada is commercial motorcyclist.
Stanley G. Jack
MD, Stanley Wallstreet Limited
Port Harcourt, Nigeria
Stanley is the author of “Who Took My Job?”(@whotookmyjob) – coming soon!
Follow him on Twitter:@wealthyJACK