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I have had a rather eventful week. Last week Monday, September 13, 2021, I had tripped during my morning run and had badly sprained my wrist. What made the injury worse is that it happened because someone had placed concrete barriers on the sidewalk, and then tied something (maybe a wire or rope) between them at knee length. If I had been running when it was light, or if the place was well lit, I would have seen it. But it was 4am. So, I tripped. I was angry and I suppose that spurred me to finish the run. By 10am, I was in agony so I went to a hospital that not only wasted my time but also ripped me off. While there is health insurance in my country, it is private and not compulsory. I have a dim view of insurance companies mostly gotten from reading James Hadley Chase novels where they are always trying to weasel out of their contracts. Also, in my business, my dealings with them have sometimes not been pleasant. So, I only buy health insurance when traveling out of Nigeria. Thus, my Monday was rather fucked. I had planned to meet the occupants of the building where I'd tripped and ask them to take down their barrier or else I'd sue them. However, upon getting there, I saw the place was a government office, The Nigerian Christian Pilgrims' Welfare Board. That immediately quenched my fire. Although, even if it had been a private entity, I probably would not have carried out my threat. Going to court in Nigeria is a losing proposition because Nigeria's courts only dispense law, but not justice. Simple cases can drag on for years and years, this delay frustrates people who are genuinely seeking justice and delights those seeking to evade it.

Anyway, the week had gotten off to a bad start. Later on that same day, I had a phone call with a "friend" who, to be blunt, was shamelessly and blatantly trying to steal credit for work I had done. We had been colleagues 10 years ago, and even though we are not chummy, we have a cordial relationship. This current transaction is an issue of a sub-sovereign debt instrument for one of Nigeria's states. His firm is the lead issuing house while mine is one of several joint issuing houses. The fee for arranging the financing is split into a fixed portion and a success based portion. The lead issuing house normally takes a larger share of the fixed portion because it coordinates activities of all parties to the issue including the regulators. The success based portion of the fee is tied to whatever sum a firm is able to mobilize. This is basically marketing the instrument. My friend now went round to 2 firms whose executives I had spent effort marketing, and sneakily collected the investment commitment form from their treasury departments. Both firms had committed to me that they would invest large sums. I had spoken to him about it and he feigned outrage, saying industry practice was that whoever collected the forms takes the credit for the investment. However, he offered "magnanimously" to let me have 20% of the fee. I do not get angry easily, and in this case, I did not get angry for at least a day. But the more I thought about everything, especially his condescension, the angrier I got. What even made it worse was that I felt betrayed. In my friend's defense, he was relying on industry practice while I was thinking our friendship would create some sense of honor and forbearance between us. This difference in perception is probably cultural. We are from different cultures. I am from the more provincial, laid back North. Even among northerners, I am a fusion of the 2 oldest, and proudest cultures in the north. I try to mold my conduct in accordance with Pulaaku, the Fulani code of conduct which encourages one to be stoic, generous, retiring, and humble. He is Yoruba, a southerner, born and bred in the cutthroat atmosphere of Lagos, which like all big cities abrades people's sense of courtesy and preaches that one should always watch out for number one. So, what might seem like unacceptable behavior to me, is nothing to him. A final reason for my anger is that I thought he was being greedy. I know he had raised double what he was trying to take from me. In fact, one investor I approached said they had already been approached by him and I backed off (my own investors had also told him the same but he chose not to back off). So, him trying to take my work reminded me of David & Uriah. Therefore, I resolved to fight back. I reached out to the investors to let them know that their underlings were colluding with a rival firm to shaft me, to enable someone reap where he did not sow, as it were.

From Tuesday to Thursday, I was doing everything half heartedly because Monday's events were on my mind. I was trying to arrange a meeting with the CEO of our national oil company. Trying to make arrangements for a trip to Turkey. Using spare cash to buy dollars because the naira is depreciating daily and also contemplating moving to a new house in one of the most highbrow parts of town.

On Friday, I was making progress on a valuation approach for another client. We had signed a mandate some months earlier but work had not commenced because they had not given us all the information we required. When they finally brought the information, my already cool ardor for the transaction cooled even further. The company is losing money. It is a relatively big company, and within its industry, it is one of the largest. Also, its board and management have good credentials. However, the current management had set up a similar firm a decade earlier which had collapsed. So it was disheartening to see that history was about to be repeated. I also felt bad because the company's CEO is a man I respect very much. He is an experienced engineer who always teaches me something new when we talk, a gentleman who is really polished and someone I generally look up to. Anyway, I had figured out a way to make the firm look good, get him investment and also set up a structure that will protect the new investors. I took a break for lunch and on the way back, I began to shiver. I suspected malaria and so bought some medicine for it. By the time I got back to the office, I could not even hold a pen. I have never had such an attack. I had to go home and just collapse on the bed. Anyway, I was much better by Sunday. And by Monday, hospital results cleared me.

This morning, I resolved the problem I had on Monday last week. I got correspondence informing the rival firm that the money should be credited to my order book. This has really brightened my day. I have also paid for the new house and I am excited about moving in.

All in all, the conclusions are cheering.

I was living in Berlin again. Had this been a dream produced in Hollywood it would be captioned "Berlin, Germany", as though the stupid audience needed to know that it wasn't Berlin, Indiana (or Kansas, or God forbid Wisconsin with its numerous townships of that name). This was my idealised Berlin, which means it's an amalgam of other European cities' architectures and styles. It has broad boulevards and narrow streets and pretty aromatic delicatessens and funny little shops, and people walk to wherever they need to go once they get off the delightful and frequent buses.

I avoid the boulevards whenever I fly, largely to hide amongst the rooftops and chimneys, but also because the boulevards are always full of cars and rush and hurry. This area of the city is pretty, colourful with pavement umbrellas and awnings and the gentle bustle of people buying their little daily needs or sitting in cafés reading the newspapers and (most importantly), not looking up. I enjoy flying, but I also need to be careful; there have been stories in the newspapers about people who have seen me.

In any case, I drop down into a quiet corner of two alleyways and walk to my flat. It's not quite clear exactly where it is or how I get in, this being a dream, but I am greeted by The Cat before I put the groceries away. The Cat meows and I realise that she's telling me she's chilly, so I tweak the dreadful thermostat in the hope that it improves things by a degree or two rather than thinking it's a toaster and we are the bread. I hear my flatmates messing with things in the bathroom and try to find them before they cause too much havoc. Getting to the bathroom is always an undertaking, what with dream physics and all, but before long I find it and have a conversation about the temperature. It's all fine; the bathroom is in good shape, and so are they.

I decide to have tea, which today is a plate of little sandwiches and cakes, and I sit on the rug and listen to The Cat's purring. Everyone is happy, and my daughter is here too, so we decide to go flying among the chimneytops and pretty slate roofs. We sit on matching gargoyles and chat. I wake up happy and clear of mind.

 


 

I love my flying dreams now that I've learned how not to be disappointed that I can't really fly. Perhaps this is what it really means to be a grown-up; that it's fine to have dreams and fantasies, but that Real Life™ holds magic enough.

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