Few months to my Junior WAEC exams, I lost my phone in a public bus. I remember vividly the drama and scene I caused that day in the middle of the road as I made sure the whole bus was searched, I didn’t find my phone. I laid in the middle of the road begging for cars to crush me, no one paid attention, no one even came to drag me away from the road, even the motorists I had delayed did not honk their horn. I was chaotic and dramatic for four reasons;
The first being that having a phone then was a big deal. This was a period when GSM phones were still getting into Nigeria and were expensive, that I had one was a big deal. I had gotten used to the phone and the status it gave me, coupled with the fact that my phone number was special; it contained just three digits, was easy to memorise and recite.
The second reason was that I had lost my only mean of communication with my mother. Then I used to live alone as my mother was faraway, she was in a place where there was no network so daily she made a short trip to a place where she could make calls and always called in the evening. It had become a ritual to always expect her call every evening. With my phone gone, there was no way to reach her and vice versa. I imagine the trauma she would have gone through when she didn’t get across to her baby boy that day.
The third reason was because I was also terrified of the punishment I was going to get from my mother. She regularly warned me not to take the phone out unless I needed to, she had threatened fire and brimstone on one particular day when I went out with the phone and narrated how it almost got lost. At that juncture, I wasn’t really thinking about my lost phone, I was more concerned with what my mother was going to do to me.
The fourth reason was that I had become so immersed in Nollywood that I was adrift of reality. I had felt that amidst all my drama, a good Samaritan was going to console me and buy me a new phone. I didn’t think anyone would see a barely twelve years old boy in such disarray and turn a blind eye. Guys, I was disappointed that day, in fact, I had sighted a man in a Mercedes and went to his door to cry, he quickly wound up his glass.
When my mom finally heard that I had lost my phone, to my surprise, she was not mad at me. She was more concerned with how her baby boy was going to cope because she knew how attached I had gotten to my phone (and all the wonders I did with it). Later on, she said she contemplated sending her own phone down for me to use since there was barely network where she was for her to use hers. You know, she actually bought a phone for me when she was coming back.
But this article is not about my phone or my mom. This article is about the aftermath of my phone story. I want to talk about the man who really became a pillar for me during my transition into adolescence. The day I lost my phone, I went to his office after all the shenanigans and cried. I told him about my phone and he told me not to worry. He told me to go home and relax, told me to concentrate on my upcoming exams instead. He was the one who broke the news to my mom. The next day, he was knocking on my door with a brand-new phone and a new sim card. No kidding! Like the very next day.
You see, I had little interaction or experience with my own biological father. He left when I was six or thereabout so I didn’t really know what fathers were supposed to do for sons other than what my mother did for me. But this man made sure I never had to worry too much about it. He bought me books regularly. When he saw my prowess with a computer, he quickly bought me computer books to read and hone my skills. Whenever he saw something beaming in me, he quickly bought me books. I owe my affinity for books to him and my mother. What did he not do for me? I always looked forward to seeing him or going to his office because there was always a gift waiting for me. He’d take me round his office then and tell everyone I was his son, you needed to see the confidence on my face.
The phone incident was one of numerous instances when he was there at my aid. Oh, and there was also a period when I hadn’t paid my school fees and I was sent home, I just went to his office from school, that same day he gave me the money and told me to go pay my school fees. I can’t even start, or was it the time when someone was harassing me and he called his Police friend and they brought their Police vans to make a statement. With him I always felt secured, I did whatever I wanted to do because I knew people had my back.
I didn’t understand it then but I now know what that face on my mom’s face meant. I know she must have been relieved to see her son happy and have a father figure to always run to. I was too young to even understand it, like this man had a family compete with three children. But he introduced me to everyone in his family. They all knew my name. he always called me “my friend”, till today he calls me friend.
Today is Father’s Day and I want to say thank you. Thank you for filling that void, you are a grandfather now so you’re not lacking adulations and I know your children and grandchildren are the luckiest set of people in this world. Thank you for all those years when you stood by my side and held my hand. You make the word Father more than just a mere noun to me.