What would you do differently if you had the chance to start life from scratch? If you could rub a lamp (or rechargeable lantern) and make a wish, or if you were given an opportunity to change some of your previous life choices, what would you do? If there was a time travel scientist called Doctor Who Sai, and he offered you a chance to travel in his time travel telephone box (not operated by Nitel o), where would you travel to, and what would you change? Would you go back to 1950 and beg your popsie to complete school and go to Uni, so that he would succeed so that you can have a better chance of being born with a silverspoon in Ikoyi?
Or would you go back to 1914 and slap Lord Lugard into a stupor to prevent him from amalgamating the Northern and Southern protectorates to form Naija, and thereby save us all this anguish. Or perhaps you would travel to 2005 and invest your hard-earned salary in 1st Bank and Nigerian Brewery stocks and shares, instead of Transcorp, Finbank and Intercontinental Banks like you ended up doing and loosing your life savings. Maybe you wouldnt have married that girl – you have now found out that she was too good to be true. She claimed she was a virgin and had never seen man, and did not let you ‘violate her’ but on the wedding night, once you straddled her, you almost ‘fell inside”. Now a sex video of her planking different Alhajis has now gone viral. You have also become viral from her infections.
Or would you rather time-travel to 2003 to major in music in school, rather than banking and finance? I mean Tuface and Don Jazzy are cleaning out almost as well as the Jim Ovias and Pascal Dozies of these world (key word – almost). Or you may choose to go back to 1992 to buy 20 plots of land in Lekki Phase One and Wuse, when these were worth half-a-penny. My uncle was offered land in Banana Island in 1996 for 2 million. He decided to invest in Festac instead, and now his house has appeared in many Nollywood movies, as opposed to Fortune 500 or MTV Cribs.
Now don’t get me wrong, I prefer not to dwell on mistakes I have made, or wrong choices when I was younger .Whatever happens has happened, and what is done, is done. People espouse that philosophy of life where you look forward and regret nothing including past mistakes, writing them off as life experiences. It is even embodied in the French term “Regrette Rien” which means “Regret Nothing”
In Pidgin English parlance, it is called ‘E don happen” so why you wan kill yourself?
However, sometimes, you do reflect on your journey through life, and try to imagine how much different your life would be if you had passed the right or left fork on the road, and had gone straight instead. Here would be my choices, if I could start again:
- I would have become an engineer. I was a proficient Lego brick builder as a youngster. I may have made a good civil engineer though a civil child I was not. In Junior secondary, I was initially great at Introductory Technology, but the teacher put me off because he was always hitting students with the T-square. Don’t get me wrong, I love the legal profession but there are too many insincere jerks and old school monuments dogging the institution. Besides try watching one of those World War or invasion movies – lawyers are always the first ones to be killed or imprisoned in concentration camps when a dictator takes over a nation. Doctors and lawyers are spared because they can provide anciliarry services. Nuclear physicists are spared too because of their technological prowess. But lawyers don’t have anything to offer because their talk talk is too much. I put it to you that you cannot kill or imprison me. I will invoke a wreath of Habeus Corpus and have you reprimanded forthwith.
Even people who studied Yoruba Education in school have a better chance of surviving in an invasion or dictatorship than a lawyer. They could prostrate and plead for their life: Ejo o, e ma bi nu.Ma pa mi, iku mi o wulo fun e (Please o, don’t be angry. I am useless to you dead). The person would be more successful with his plea, if he impersonates Jide Kosoko’s facial expressions.
The worst people are those who studied Philosophy. They would try to rationalize with the arresting soldiers by applying logic: You arrest and kill some innocent victims. I am an innocent victim. But it does not mean you have to kill me.
So engineers are indispensable. They have the pick of the choicest positions and benefits. When I worked at Nigerian Breweries as an intern, I once overheard a manager sigh as he guzzled a huge mug of Harp “The most important people in this company, and the only ones immune from sacking are those who oversee production – the lager engineers. All you analysts, business administrators, interns are on borrowed time here”
Dude, we are all on borrowed time. Nor be you papa company na.
Engineers have all the advantages. There are different kinds of engineers – civic, petroleum, mechanical, electronic, marine,, aeronautic etc etc. There are only 3 kinds of lawyer in Nigeria – charge N bail, baby lawyer and the erudite ones (Gani, FRA Williams, Babalakin etc). Aim to be among the last category.
Engineers rise to the top of their professions, and get to wear jeans and nice yellow helmets even in corporate settings. They use terms like “rig, petroleum, platform, crank, production.”
Lawyers rise up in the profession, but always usually wear a black wig and gown in a hot court-room. They use words like “adjournment, frustration, lapse, laches, statute of limitation, I put it to you, sue, please be advised..”
Anyway I still ended up being an engineer regardless – I am a social engineer, building blocks of hope. My bic is my spanner. In fact sometimes I introduce myself as Architect Esco at public gatherings. At one recent gathering, the other person looked at me interestingly as I introduced myself as an architect. He was one himself, so he inquired further: “Interesting stuff. What buildings or projects have you designed.”
I wanted to reply “Motherfuck designing mansions in water logged Lekki, I help rebuild and rehabilitate people through the medium of blog satire”
Instead, I pretended like I had just received an international call, and excused myself “Ehnn, sorry Joe, the line is breaking. What time is it now at Singapore? It must be MTN’s network, please let me go outside for better reception. Please excuse me, Architect Dagbaru”
- I would have made better choices in my relationships earlier on. I would have bitten the bullet, been bolder and hooked up with Chineze. I would not have stood up Damola on Valentines Day to hang out with the lads. I would have treated Oyin differently and not have taken her for granted. I can remember taking a train all the way from Borehamwood to Swiss Cottage to meet Oyin who was meeting me all the way from Edmonton for a movie at the O2 center. After a huge meal at Weatherspoons, I embarrassingly fell asleep during the movie. Don’t blame me, it was already around 8pm, and besides the movie showing had musical bits in it. It was Gerald Butler’s “Phantom of the Opera.”
Oyin was pissed that I dare fall asleep during our date, even spilling our popcorn all over the place as I shifted in my snooze. My excuse was let me sleep, so I can dream of you.
Oyin, I apologize. I am also sorry for taking you to my new girlfriend’s house and making out with her in front of you, because I stupidly thought you were over me. Now that I am older and wiser, I realize that girls have a secret radar and no chick would like to see her ex with another hotter chick. Sorry, I meant another chick equally as hot. Please accept my apologies for 2011.
- I would dance with my father one more time, if I had the chance. He passed away a few years ago, and now I realize that all the life lessons he taught me are gems for living. I recently caught a glimpse of myself in a shop window, and I could see my father’s features creeping in a little. His mannerisms, his modus operandi, his figures of speech are all engrained in me. Miss you Dad.
- I would have started a business a long time ago. I guess it is never too late, but I am inspired by the life stories of self -made men like Richard Branson and Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs who started really early in life. The former had a paper route when he was barely in his teens and the former was a record company “A and R” by his early twenties, and formed Bad Boy Records when he was just 23.
On a side note, a friend of mine wants to start a clothing company, and has started importing tee-shirt printing and embroidery machinery. He hired me a design consultant because he felt I had a creative spark. His vision was for a urban wear line with designs that could make a statement, sort of like those Che Guevara revolutionary tee-shirts, or Doc Marten boots with grunge or punk rockers, or how Ben Sherman shirts were popular with U.K chavs, or how college kids like Abercrombie and Fitch and snap back hats. Or like Hawes and Curtis and pudgy Nigerian bankers.
He wanted a line of tee-shirts with a range of designs peculiar to the Nigerian hip fashionista. It had to be cool, but distinctively naija.
My first few suggestions were wide off the mark, and I am sure he is seriously thinking of asking me to resign.
I suggested a T-shirt with an inscription “I am the bomb”. He looked at me like I was crazy. Ha, make Boko Haram catch you.
What about a shirt with the PHCN logo, and then the phrase “I got the power…Not”
I wish I had learnt a special skill. Like I had taken up lawn tennis classes, or learnt how to play the piano, or the Yoruba talking drum. My father really wanted me to learn how to play tennis, as he felt it was a good form of keeping fit and networking for life. I really always wondered what the racket was all about. Besides there were few places to practice in Lagos. I am Igbo, and imagine the ill looks I would get if I waltzed into the Yoruba Lawn Tennis Club. I wish I could play chess as well as draught. I am a champ at Ludo though. When I throw the dice, I am fairly proficient at getting 2 sixes. Siki one, siki two…oya carry ya seed.
And for all the nights and all the fights/
That I had for all this money over all these dice/
All my cars and homes and all my ice/
If I could do it all again, I’d do it all for Christ/
Mase (From Scratch, 1999)