The Greeks had a god for almost everything. Each one of their gods controlled one of the elements or some phase of life. Apollo was the god of poetry; Ares was the god of war; Posedion was god of the sea; Athena, the goddess of wisdom.
But unlike the Greeks, Nigerians have a demon for every misfortune. Household demons, those who follow you from your village to the city and ensure you never do well in life; Neighbourhood demons, those who take charge of your ill-luck in case your household demons are too busy in the villages; women demon, those who ensure all your savings go down the drain of some women’s loins etc
I don’t know whether the Greeks or the Nigerians had one or not, but there must be a god or a demon who controls dents and scratches that always shows up on new things. Where else would they come from? Who else but an all-powerful master of imperfections could possibly put all these little dents on all new cars in Lagos?
Last week I bought a new pair of shoes. Never mind how much they cost, I bought a new pair of shoes. On the second day I had them, I was climbing up on the stairs leading to my apartment, which is shared by my generator set, but somehow the generator decided for the first time in a year to demand for legroom only this time a part of it made a cut in the leather of my new shoe that looked as if it was done by a razor blade. I’ve put polish on the shoes several times since then, and the rip doesn’t show much, but I know it’s there and the shoes will never be new again. They lost their newness the second day.
I’ve not seen a new car that didn’t pick up some little scratch or dent in its first few weeks on Lagos roads. In fact, everyone seems to be reconciled to this around here. My uncle got KIA Sorento 2013 in July but by August we visited KIA centre for bodywork. It was so new there were no available parts at the warehouse. Looking around in traffic there seems to be a contracted denter in town who gives new cars a dent, scratch or bash no matter how careful one is.
It couldn’t have been more than three weeks after I got my new watch that the ding demon put a scratch in the crystal. Have you ever wondered how you manage to clash your watch with another’s on Broad Street? It’s not much, mind you; just enough to remind me that I no longer have a brand new watch.
Talking about clothes, the ding demons have so much aversion for mortals wearing white. As Nigerians are white loving people you can’t see these demons at their best anywhere else. Wear a white shirt on a given day and brave the odds of rain and mud-splash from vehicles. Or, if it were a party you went for, I can bet you would not return until you have spilled some palm-oil on your attire. My father had a ritual of dipping a finger in the soup and showing it to the cloth before having a taste of the meal. It works for him, but I hardly have time for such fetishes.
Another thing about these demons is their hatred for anything that makes us happy. I have owned several clothes but like a few really much. Those few somehow find a way of being caught in the bus seat, stained with engine oil or accidentally bleached. Recently, a bus conductor stained my new ash coloured trousers with his engine-oil-smeared-hands.
‘Oga no vex, the dry cleaners would make it as good as new.’ He said
But I knew, when the ding demon, dents and scratches gets through with something, it’s never as new again.