When your friend comes to sudden wealth

Wilson Orhiunu

First Gentleman with Wilson Orhiunu

Email: babawill2000@gmail.com Twitter: @Babawilly

Wilson Orhiunu qed.ngWhat do you do when your close friend becomes rich beyond your wildest nightmares? How do you sleep well when they smell of perfumes whose names you cannot pronounce while you retain your strong aroma of sweat? The Bible says rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.  However on the streets of Doubting “Bode” Thomas, Lagos State, the Area Alsatians say ‘easier barked than done’.

The Alsatians know a thing or two about impromptu good fortune for hungry dogs console one another until one of them gets a juicy big bone.

Let the truth be told, it is highly inconvenient, nay outright insensitive for a close friend to stumble upon pots of gold leaving you to stumble on nothing but the news of it. You just don’t know if you could like them anymore. The brain is all about stored information that can be retrieved in seconds when needed. Cerebral storage is what we do with information encountered through the years; we save for a rainy day. First we store the map of the city. Then we differentiate the districts by virtue of desirability aka house prices. And finally we place faces to the areas. Once this basic information is stored tidily in our brains, we hate our “memory tinz” messed about. The magazines tell us who lives where so we can update information and while visiting family and friends we cement everybody in their own space. That is why being told about a flat tyre by 2am means nothing till you know which neighbourhood the incident occurred. You brain needs a location to fully process information.

So when your hypothetical friends comes in to inconvenience you with the “good news” that while you were striking mosquitoes in the dark, he had been striking it rich and would be moving out of the street in two weeks, he messes you up on many levels.

  1. You need to store his new location in your brain.
  2. Who would be your new best friend on the street?
  3. Why did good fortune bypass your door and land at his?
  4. Do those you live with have “bad luck”? After all when chicken pox came round last year your family got it before his and more severely so.
  5. You got a 2-1 in university and he got a third class. Why him?
  6. He is moving to a very expensive part of town and it would cost you a lot of money and time to visit (such an inconsiderate ‘so-called’ friend!)
  7. You soon start getting the “Nigerian question” from all your relatives when they hear your friend has “hammered”. “No bi di same engineering una do for university?”

Extracting a close friend from where they are located in your brain and placing them in cerebral` parts reserved for millionaires can feel like a dental extraction. Perhaps if your friend gives you his old furniture and car, that might serve as some form of anaesthetic in the interim. However the pain comes flooding back on your first visit to his mansion. That is when you whisper into your wife’s ear, “Hope it is not drugs” (UK) or “Hope no bi rituals” (Naija).

It took you years living in this city to store information about where everyone lives but trust your friend to mess your tidy brain up. Na who know man after all, na im dey kill man.

The above scenario is akin to a new scientific discovery in your field of study two months to your final examination in university. Let us assume that this breakthrough renders all you have studied for the last three years obsolete. How would you feel if you were informed that your examination would be conducted in the light of new scientific knowledge? If it were put to the vote, all the studious ones will vote to be examined on obsolete information which they know so well while the party guys and girls sat at the back of the class will clamour to be tested on the latest scientific knowledge. Is that not why erstwhile layabouts can strike it rich when a novel new opportunity arises suddenly? I digress.

A few months later when your friend decides to visit you, “level don change”. He parks his Range Rover jeep in the streets but keeps peeping out the window to make sure the vehicle is safe.

You reassure him by saying he should relax and he replies, “Do you know how much that car costs?” On hearing the amount, you get angry with him for spending so much on a vehicle, and for looking down on your neighbourhood; his old neighbourhood.

Your wife serves the best food you can afford saying, “please manage this our small food” apologetically. Your guests were the same people who used to go into the kitchen and serve themselves. Your friend asks to use the toilet and you shoot up like a sprinter to make sure it is clean. On your return you say, “these children might have messed the place up” and smile nervously but what you really feel is fear. Fear that your friend now looks down on you and might put his nose up at your loo. This is the same friend that went in and out of the loo without any ceremony before. Once the host becomes self-conscious in his own house, the visit becomes a torture. You watch as your kids crowd around your friend’s kid who is playing a game on his iPad. The kids of the house all have fun by proxy as they are not allowed to touch.

You ask about Christmas. You hosted last year and it is their turn this year. They announce they will be going to Dubai with their new neighbours.  It goes silent.