▶ Icarus flight
Project Icarus, I sighed again over my melancholic outlook. I was feeling stressed out, and went over my plans again. I had chosen this name because this was my flight plan from Lagos to London. I reflected back on the TV slot I had seen previously some months ago about Andrew, a character who was ‘checking out’ of Nigeria in despair at the economic situation.
I would have thought this impossible then but here I was now a caricature of Andrew. So why did I name this project Icarus when it’s origin was from the Greek mythology of the man who flew too near the sun and plunged to disaster after the wax melted his wings? Probably because I was taking a ‘Big Bang’ approach and burning my bridges! I reviewed my project plans and all the technical details seem alright, but there was still uncertainty since I had not traveled to the UK in the past 12 years. Actually, my Uncle had poked fun and told me I would be turned back at the border, since I didn’t have a British passport.
I stepped away from the table in the living room and walked unto the veranda (balcony), and felt the harsh sun and humidity washover me. I would miss the warmth and smell of Lagos. My gaze spread downward to the open street drainage, which formed an algae cesspool, and breathed in deeply the (sweet) familiar putrid smell of the tropics. My hands clenched the rails tightly and I gazed upwards into the Sun to imagine how Icarus had taken flight, and wished I was superhuman to take a leap from the balcony into the great unknown. My hands dripped sweat as I contemplated whether to jump (like Icarus). “Best to cut out the melodrama”, I thought and wiped my hands against my singlet (vest),.
My thoughts briefly shifted to my Aunt, who complained that I was often half-dressed, singlet and shorts, on her visits to our home. She had scoffed at me and taunted me saying “..seems that all the money spent to educate you in the USA went amiss”. I turned back into the lounge, to find that my meal had been laid out in the dining room. My mother gestured to me, “Ade, your food will get cold”, while I waited for her familiar refrain “I’m starving “, which duly followed.
I grinned to myself, warm thoughts of how I would miss her love and cuddling, and sat down to my meal and suddenly the world was a much better place..
“I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable”Dwight D. Eisenhower
▶ Car Crash
The car was a total wreck and I had been hospitalised. Looking back, the event actually redefined me since anytime my thoughts turn to despair, I relieve my miraculous escape and re-establish my sense of purpose..
I had been driving home late one night, on my way back from another evening at the country club with friends,and confess to drink driving. I was on the last mile, dual carriageway, when I blanked out, when my eyes opened I found my car speeding and about to crash into the rear end of the car in front. I had to make a split-second decision and chose to drive my car away and unto the (hard) divider. The car accelerated further as it hit the mount and crashed into a lamp post.. The car bonnet (hood) was crushed and the windscreen frame buckled (avoiding screen shatter) the impact was heavy, since (later found out) the lamp post was concrete reinforced rendering my car to absorb the full impact.
My jaw was cracked with impact on the steering wheel and i got a foot fracture from the impact. The miracle was that the car collided with the front (empty)passenger side taking the full impact of the collision with the lamp. I was further restrained from ejection, since I was using a seat belt, a habit I had been derided for as ‘acting yuppy’. I retained consciousness and was able to drag myself out of the car, blood dripping out of my ears, noise ringing in my head. The car crash had caused a furor, and cars had stopped to witness the incident. Passers by gathered around me, and with shock had to confirm how I came out alive, with a hint of disappointment. I was then pulled over to the roadside.
The Good Samaritan appears. Amidst the bedlam of the crowd and confusion on how to get medical support. A car pulled over and the driver (owner) took action, he pulled over a Taxi and inserted me inside commanding his own passenger to accompany me to the nearby local (government) hospital. Upon arrival I was informed that I would have to wait outside on the terrace (for hours) before I could be attended to.
During this time, my brain was still foggy and I had been drifting in and out of consciousness. However, I got my wits about me and pleaded with my helper to get the Taxi drive across Town (over the Expressway) to the Private hospital, where my family was registered. We had a police check-point, where we were almost stopped, but arrived at the hospital and I was ushered immediately into emergency treatment. I gestured to my helper and dug out a streaked business card, which I pressed into his hand, to please contact me so I could express my thanks. He left, and I never heard back from the good Samaritan.
The parable of the Good Samaritan – Luke 10:25-37The Bible
▶ The Passage
The car crash was the incident to jolt my family into action. The accident happened three years after I had left my cushy job in the bank to set-up my consulting firm. By this stage I was completely stressed out because business had not taken off, I was just about breaking -even, and my latest job had been working on contract with a second-tier consultancy, which had landed a World Bank funded project to roll-out across Nigeria.
Once I was discharged from the hospital my parents sprung into action. My views were finally taken into consideration and I was given a brand new desktop computer and enrolled with an ICT Consultancy firm for three months to refresh and upgrade my computer knowledge. Ever since my original return from the US and the implosion of my then ‘Compaq PC’ and lockup in the psychiatric ward, I had been denied any further technical education. I certainly welcomed this and took advantage of the training from the Managing consultant, who had UK qualified with a PHd Computer science.
My next step was to do some ground work on an IT career and I found out about the Microsoft Engineer course qualifications. The UK Newspapers advertised courses which showed good career (payment) prospects. This was the genesis of ‘Project Icarus’ and I promoted this scheme to my parents. I believe they were probably worn down at this moment, and agreed to sponsor my one-way flight ticket (only), so I also had to contact family friends in England to agre if they would accommodate me. Finally, my luck was turning and the planned arrangements bore fruition. I was determined to emigrate, in search of the golden fleece, and turn a new leaf.
The culmination for me had been my failure to get an MBA degree. After resigning from my Bank position I had applied for the first entrance (cohort) exam to the .Lagos Business School, and invited to the interview, where the Board informed me that I was one of the ‘top Three’ entrants. True to my nature, I inquired about my true standing, 1st or 2nd, and was gently rebuffed by the Professor. The added criteria for Admission to the programme was a good recommendation and to be currently employed in a corporate position. This is where the Penny dropped, alas and alack, I had already run through two other corporate jobs aside from the Bank position and the ‘Big shots’, including relatives, would not help in sponsoring me. I was bitterly disappointed, and now understand this was where the idea of ‘checking out’ first germinated.
However, there was pushback. I was confronted, made an offer I should not refuse, at the last moment, in fact the day before my flight to England. Another family member had offered me a guaranteed executive job in Lagos, if I changed my travel plans. But the die was cast, I turned down the offer and the next day had a small part session, I remember the day being my parent’s wedding anniversary (July 28) and departed my flight to the UK.
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre. The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold”William Butler Yeats (The Second Coming)