I was eating popcorn when I received the call that my mom had died. My wife and one year old daughter were in the car with me. I parked the car, blocking the entrance to a residential building, and cried with childlike recklessness. When the security guard to that house came to shoo us away, he saw a grown man crying in front of his family and decided to let us be. I dropped the bag of buttered popcorn. Now, many months afterwards, every time I try to eat buttered popcorn, I remember the day my mom died and I lose my appetite.
The day my mom was buried, however, a friend of mine told me some fascinating stories about his dad. I’m going to tell you three of those stories. And, please don’t bite because we have plans to turn his dad’s stories into a Twitter account. Or a book. Or a Web series. Or a TV show.
The Driver’s License
My friend’s dad is a late bloomer. He bought his first car at the age of 60. But of course he had been driving for at least 35 years. Which means he is extremely experienced as a driver. He is also knowledgeable about the tricks of Nigeria and Nigerians. When he got the car, he decided to enjoy it by driving it the way you probably drove your first car – like you’re going to make it fly. One day, a policeman stopped him.
“Your particulars,” said the police officer.
All the papers were in order.
“Your driver’s license.”
My friend’s father produced it. The policeman looked at it. At first he wasn’t sure what he was looking at. He looked at my friend’s dad.
“Is this your driver’s license?”
“This is from 1976!”
1976. Murtala Muhammed was the head of state. Obasanjo hadn’t done his spell as military ruler of Nigeria. The country had only 12 states. We still had the one naira note. Neither my friend nor I had been born. That was 38 years ago.
My friend’s dad patted the policeman on the back. He said, “Aburo, you must let me go. This driver’s license was issued to me before you were born.”
The policeman let him go.
The Assistant Wife
My friend’s dad has been married for more than forty years. You need to see him with his wife to understand the enviable friendship between them. They’re like two guys when they argue and agree or when they share a joke. No bile between them lasts for more than a few hours, just like a good bromance.
But there was a time my friend’s dad phoned K, another friend of his son’s.