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Lateness and the late


She wanted to know if the boss, Mr. Bosede was in the office. She had an appointment to see the man known as the boss at 11am. She had to be sure he was in the office before she could set out from her own office some distance away from Mr. Bosede’s eye-popping offices in the centre of town. She was going to drive through them late morning traffic to see the boss on an important matter, something a third party must not hear, something that could not be entrusted even to an encrypted e-mail. Something that would make him do something about what was going on around him, something that he seemed unaware of.

The boss is late, said a voice on the other side of the last landline in the country. She smiled and praised herself for thinking ahead. It was good of her to find out if the boss was in the office. Many times Mr. Bosede had lost important things because he was late. There was the time he was to be informed that he should not meet with the wife of the king at a particular place at a particular time because if he did the consequences would be dire for him and for the Olori. You think Mr. Bosede was on time to get the information? Of course, he was not. And do you know what saved him from the consequences of that meeting? The Olori did not turn up because she was have a difficult time of the month and she rescheduled.

Do you know when the boss will be in the office today? He would have to come to the office, at least on the last day of the month to ensure that the workers got paid for the month. They had been expecting him to pitch up at the office since Monday.


Normally his workers, sixty-seven of them, should have been paid on the 25th of the month without fail. He did not turn up on Tuesday either and the receptionist was not happy. She had a lay-by with a shoe shop and she was looking forward to paying the last installment and taking away the pair of prized shoes. And what is more the shoes are not for the receptionist. She was giving it as a gift for an old lady who was getting dressed for a meeting with head of state of the country. This old woman had a terminal illness and her final desire was to meet the president and watch him work in his office for one day.

The old woman had always wondered what a President did all day except play with his friends, eat and drink with his friends and appear on television and smile at cameras. From gossips in the village presidents do nothing but sign letters and smile at cameras. But when do they get to spend their money then, she wanted to know? Now the shoes that she would wear to the once in a lifetime meeting were not ready because the boss was late. Well, this Friday he had to come to work and sign the cheques so the workers can get what they want with their money. When he will be in the office today? The voice on the landline repeated the question to her. Yes, when do you expect him back in the office today? He is late, is all I know.

Do you know late? Like late, later, latest, is that it? She answered that she understood. She understood about Mr. Bosede’s perennial lateness. There was that occasion when he was to be conferred with his law degree somewhere in a university in England. His wife tells the story about how the boss sat in front of a mirror combing his glossy black hair forwards and backwards, putting the parting, first on the right side of his plateau-like head and then on the left. Then he would try a centre parting. He could not decide where he should situate the parting. As a result of this he was late, very late and by the time his wife had convinced him that it did not matter where he situated his parting in his head, all that mattered was to be given his law degree so that he could go ho e and practise and make loads of money to the greater glory of the Bosede family. By the time he was convinced the graduation ceremony was over.

Someone else picked up his certificate. The office of the registrar could not say who this somebody was. And they could not write another certificate for him unless he could bring back the previous one, which some unknown person got away with. Which is how Mr. Bosede does not have a certificate saying that he passed his law degree. Which is why he could not practise law by merely swearing an affidavit to the effect that he completed all the courses and ate all the dinners and was even going to be called to the bar. Except that he never attended the graduation. Or as he told his people when he got home that the graduation was held too early, earlier than the time he expected them to hold the ceremony.


So, they contrived to make him late, arranged for a crook to claim his hard earned certificate and deprived him of the reward of his sweat and blood. She would try again. She had to see him today Friday, last day of the month. Did Mr. Bosede say if he was coming in the morning or in the afternoon? Does anybody know if it would be late morning or early afternoon? While he waited for the answer she thought of the enjoyment she would get boasting to her friends the special favour she was getting through the one and only boss, Mr. Bosede, special adviser the president on special assignments. Think of it.

I say, came from the other end of the line, and please listen properly. The boss, Mr. Bosede is late. He is dead. Do you understand? The mouthpiece dropped. There was the fall of the body. And there was silence.

In this article:
Kola Omotoso
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