Thursday, 8th June 2023

Rational, irrational, trans-rational trouble

By Kola Omotoso
12 June 2016   |   2:20 am
So, what caused the accident?The papers to fill for the insurance claim were on the table. The young insurance clerk poised over the clean papers, his black biro ready.


So, what caused the accident?The papers to fill for the insurance claim were on the table. The young insurance clerk poised over the clean papers, his black biro ready. Once he filled the form and got the police to stamp each page to authenticate that the accident did happen, he could submit it and the insurance money would be released. It is as simple as you know what.

So, what caused the accident?
The driver sighed and began again: “Of the three wives of my father, my mother is the youngest and the most beautiful. And she is the only one who had issues . . . I don’t mean by issues problems, I mean children, three children, but she died after I was born.”

The insurance clerk began to sweat. He looked at the forms and looked at the driver and frowned. The driver stopped speaking. I want to know how the accident happened, where the accident happened and what caused the accident.

The driver raised his hands in prayer to the insurance clerk and pleaded: “If you would listen to me I will tell you what made the accident happen, who made the accident happen.”

How can someone who was not there cause the accident? “I will explain. Just be patient. I know you have to return to your office. I know that you have other clients to whom you have to attend. But my case is special. You will understand when I have finished narrating what caused the accident. As I was saying, my mother had three of us and then she died.”

How did she die? “Just like how her father died. And when they look back in their ancestry, they have been dying in sequence of male, female and male again generation after generation. Well, in this generation, it was my turn. But I did not wish to die. . .
Naturally. So?

“So I went to the pastor and the pastor said it was beyond him and nothing to do with the coming of Christ, and that I should go to the babalawo. I went to the babalawo . . .”

All right, all right, what have all these got to do with the cause of the accident?
“My mother had wanted to protect me so when she gave bath to three children, she gave one child each to each wife including herself. This way,
I was no longer her child but the child of the first wife who did not have her own child. This way I was not supposed to die.”

You have paid the insurance regularly, month after month. It guarantees that if you have an accident and you are not to blame, and from what you are telling me you are not to blame, you can get mother to repair your car and to pay for your hospitalisation. I need to draw a map of the accident scene.
“Which aksident sin?”

Where the accident took place. . . Like, was there a pot-hole, a ditch that the car tyre could not negotiate and thus burst the tyre and the car somersaulted, like?

“You don’t understand. My adopted mother did not like me. So, she still wanted me to follow the curse of the family of my mother. But she did not do herself. Instead she took the mind of her goat, a white and black goat. It was the goat that crossed the road when I was not looking and pushed the car over.”

You are kidding me! How can a goat, one goat alone, push a car over! The insurance clerk pushed the five pages of paper away from himself out of frustration. I can’t write that the goat caused the accident by crossing the road. Goats cross the road and re-cross the road all the time everyday of our lives. I can’t write that in the form and ask the police to stamp the pages and hope to get the insurance company to pay out.

Their headquarters in Abuja will not let them pay. And even if the headquarters in Abuja agree the final deciders in London will not approve the payment and then what happens to my career?

“Do you want the truth or do you want me to lie? Do you want me to say that it was because the road was bad, very bad and the tyres in the car were tired, finished, tokunboh tyres. And that the tyres came apart when they hit the pot-hole? Is that the lie you want to fill in the form so I can get the money? The truth does not matter in insurance?”

But that sounds like what happened, what usually happens, on the poor Nigerian roads . . .
“I know nothing about the poor Nigerian roads . . .”

And the poor condition of the tyres nko? What about the poor maintenance of the car? Like when last did you service it?
“Service it?”

Yes, change oil, change spark plugs, do wheel alignment and so on. . .
“Well, I don’t know. If you look at the front of the car, you will see the tirah that the Afaa gave me to prevent the arrival of the goat any where near where I might be driving. What I don’t know is how that goat got the better of the tirah and pushed the car until it tumbled and made the accident.”

The insurance clerk pulled the papers towards him and began to fill in the spaces as if there had been a normal accident, with cause and effect and one, two or three people involved. Page after clearly marked page. On the last page he wrote the date and asked the driver to sign in the space besides the date. Then he asked the driver to put his initials on each page after each page. Then, both of them went to the police station and the clerk requested the police officer to stamp the pages so as to finalise the insurance claim.

The police officer read the form page after page. He turned to the driver and the clerk and asked:
Where is the goat that caused the accident? Where is your mother’s orogun who had gotten into the goat and made it cross the road? I can’t stamp any set of lies simply because you want to get insurance money!!!