I carefully attempted to find my way through the messy puddle that the road had become, because of the rain. The same rain was responsible for my plight: having to find my way on foot through this long distance. The buses were not moving because of the hold-ups caused by the messy roads that the endless rains had caused, and now I have to wade through that same road under the light drizzling rain that caused the problem in the first instance. I just plain pitied myself and my country, whose government was responsible for the bad roads contributing to this whole problem.

Then I got a surprise call from one middle-aged man. He wanted me to come. I wondered what for. But he just asked me to come. I beat my chest to be sure I was the one he was referring to. And he was insistent. I wondered what kind of help this kind of man could need from me. I took another look at him. He did not look any inch like a beggar, although he wasn’t gaily dressed. But then one can expect anyone to beg these days and in these parts – they simply do it in style. I tried to estimate the risk: there was none. It was an open road and so many people were passing by. So I turned to heed him, and got the surprise of my life.

I had been wearing the “NCCF Ebonyi” shirt. So he had decided I must be a corps member. This Yoruba man who called me wanted me to come explain to his Hausa opponent what the term “NET” meant in the game of table tennis. The Hausa guy, who did not understand Yoruba, felt he was being cheated, and he could not trust the only other person there either. So I was brought in as a neutral person and as an interpreter to explain to the Hausa guy whether he was right or wrong. It turns out that he was wrong. The ball he played had hit the net and returned and he felt he had not lost a point, claiming that he was to re-serve since that was “NET”. I quickly explained what the term really meant and told him he was wrong. The man who had called me thanked me, claiming his opponent was ignorant.

I could not help laughing as I walked away from the scene. I had been called by two old men to come explain a term in tennis. I found many things funny about that. First was the zeal of the man who called me as he enthusiastically claimed his opponent was wrong and should be so proven. Next was the ignorance of the opponent who did not know what the term “NET” really meant in Table Tennis, yet he claimed to know. Then there was the fact that the opponent, a Hausa man, trusted my judgment, mostly because I was, as supposed, a corps member. He even asked initially if I was from Hausa land. But he believed me all the same. The discontent that had earlier occupied my mind merely a few minutes earlier now forgotten, I kept laughing to myself as I tried to pick my way through the roads that were still very messy, till I found a bus that took me to my destination. Even then, that scene stayed glued to my mind. Wonders shall never cease…

July 4, 2012

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