Social Commentary III: Well, what have we here

Social Commentary III: well, what have we here

So I am across town at my sister’s place. I decided to get a haircut. Went to a small mall (if you can call it that) at the market around Ogba.
While still walking along the estate, I came across a family alighting from a small car (early 2000s or mid like my own). Two young girls – about 5 and 3 – and the mum’s pregnancy is advanced. And I thought to myself in this current situation of the country and the world at large, contrary to any believes they may hold, they can’t “afford” 3 kids. I know some people are thinking I should mind my own business. But the world is now a small village and there are very few things that are truly private business (i.e., things that whatever you do has no implication to my own business – for example, in general, committing suicide probably has no effect on my well-being).
One child is OK. Two is insurance. Three, three is too much these days unless you are a billionaire.
And if you need reasons to stick to two or less, let me tell you that your retirement plan will thank you; those two kids will thank you; your neighbors will thank you; those pesky extended family members that think you should’t stop until you have half a football team screaming around your 3-bedroom apartment will thank you when they see you have a little extra to send their way; and of course I (yours truly) thank you already.
And if you think I should mind my business; let’s take it to the extreme shall we? Say the husband dies (yes, God forbid bad thing! But if you think it’s not that common, think again. There are lots of widows with small children. So, as i was saying, the husband dies, and the wife is left with 2 children of school age and a third on the way. It is very possible the bulk of the household income was earned by the dead husband. So relations rally around for a while but soon tire of the situation and drift away – they have their own issues to deal with. A year or two down the line, the wife is on her own. The children are shunted into some sub-standard school. The family moves to some unsuitable area to live because of the rent. Fast forward 15 years and those little children are grown – the young girls are both pregnant – and the smallest who turned out to be a boy is now a terror in the neighborhood.
Let’s say I am living a few streets away in a more affluent neighborhood. Come one night I get unexpected visitors shoving guns and cutlasses in my face and demanding all I have or my life: the boy is one of them.
Now, let’s pursue an alternative story which diverges before the breadwinner goes off to heaven. They stop on two kids. The husband dies. The woman is under a lot of stress. But some family member decides to help out and takes the older kid to live with him/her. Puts the girl in a good school. The wife is under less pressure in many ways. She can afford to put the remaining kid in a reasonably good school. The older girl comes home regularly to visit. Both children grow up to be responsible members of the society.
I get to sleep with both eyes closed.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I get to the barber’s and see the small shop has been divided into two. He seems to have acquired an assistant or trainee barber. Both are busy and there are a couple of guys waiting. The trainee finishes first but neither of the two guys seated makes a move. I indicated to one that the other barber is free but he says he will wait for the main barber. I held on a little. I decided to take my chances with the trainee barber. After all, how is he going to get better if no one allows him to gain experience by cutting their hair.

He is very gentle. I can almost not feel the clippers (they are new and when my regular barber used it on my head a week or so previously, I had a noticeable welt across my forehead where he had been “shaping” my hair.)
The only problem was that he held the clippers as if it was a chisel. He could have done a lot of damage if he hadn’t had such a gentle touch. I started to think/hope to myself that it was reasonable that the main barber will look in on what his apprentice is doing before he finishes right? And just I was starting to think maybe I should actually ask the main barber to look in, the apprentice steps into the other cubicle and had a short discussion with the main barber who then assigns him to shave the guy in the other cubicle while he finishes off my haircut. Thankee!
So I ask the barber what I can do about the bumps on my cheek. He says I should get some cream called Neo-Medrol. Great.
But there are two types (here we go). One is 850 Naira and the other is 650 Naira.
“What is the difference?”
The 850 one is made abroad. The 650 is made here in Nigeria.
I cross the road to some cosmetic shop and ask if they have the cream.
Yes. 1,200.
Isn’t it 850.
No.
There was an inscription on the guys’s t-shirt but I couldn’t read it properly so I ask him to let me see it.
He smiled and wasn’t sure at first, but when I smiled and insisted, he uncrossed his arms.
“Communism killed a 100million people and all I got was this lousy t-shirt”
There was a picture of Che Guevara under the inscription.

I didn’t buy the cream. I went home.

Epilogue: Bought the cream for N1,250  a week or so later at MedPlus. Don’t know if it is any more genuine than the other guys, but MedPlus is big chemist chain, so I guess I can take some solace in that 🙂

09-March-2012

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