Miracles still happen. I’ve had the March edition of Harvard Business Review on the radar for a while because of the highlighted articles on its front page. But me, certified alaroro, couldn’t deal with parting with N2, 500 for a magazine, or N3, 000 depending on the part of Lagos traffic one haggles from. And the forex situation in the country has made me cancel auto-subscriptions on every goddam magazine! I reasoned, “No man should go hungry while trying to feed on knowledge.” (Given a choice between Half of a Yellow Sun and Half of a Ripe Boli, a ravenously hungry man will feel insulted at the gamble on food. Gosh forbid you tease him with The Famished Road. Or The Palm-wine Drinkard). I had tried to read the articles from the HBR website but I always ended up exhausting the limited free access, on other articles.
But this morning, while trying to negotiate a route around the airport, and in traffic, a magazine man approached me, and moved his goods close to my nose. I pretended as though the prominently displayed HBR edition didn’t pique me.
“Oga, I get Harvard,” he said.
I entertained myself on an incidental joke. If I weren’t trying to look unconcerned, I’d replied with, “Yes o, me sef get University of Ibadan.” But I looked stone-cold, as though I’d rather be talking to a gala seller or a seller of the newly-reduced-in-size-plantain-chips-of-Lagos-traffic.
I used the traffic light to monitor how long I have to put up my antics while ensuring that I didn’t lose him when the traffic light goes green. Dude just stayed there, as though seemingly convinced I’d talk to him.
I talked to him. “Na how much be Harvard?”
I observed the mandatory shock one expects from a master alaroro! And with a deadpan slur. “Haba! Guy!!! This thing na since March naaaa!” He seemed immune against my trick. He just said, “Oga, na theeree-thasan last”. I got more stone-cold.
“Ok, Oga, just pay two-five”.
Like every alaroro buyer’s dream, I noticed how he acquiesced with his new discount, so I jumped on it and stressed he would lose me if the traffic light goes green. He replied with, “Oga you don’t want to lose this magazine too”. He asked how much I’d like to pay.
Right there, traffic goes green.
Seeing that I had motioned towards my wallet, he ran after me. I slowed down for him to catch up. He gave me the magazine while I struggled to remove money from my wallet. I mistakenly pulled out a N500 note and passed to him. He eyed me for a second and just said, “No worry, I go manage am”.
I honked in appreciation. I’m not sure if he figured that the honk meant, “May you never run out of miracle, in a Buhari economy.”