Money, dished out in quantities fitting the context, is a social lubricant here. It eases passage even as it maintains hierarchies. Fifty naira for the man who helps you back out from the parking spot, two hundred naira for the police officer who stops you for no good reason in the dead of night, ten thousand for the clearing agent who helps you bring your imported crate through customs. For each transaction, there is a suitable amount that helps things on their way. No one else seems to worry, as I do, that the money demanded by someone whose finger hovers over the trigger of a AK-47 is less a tip than a ransom. I feel that my worrying about it is a luxury that few can afford. For many Nigerians, the giving and receiving of bribes, tips, extortion money, or alms–the categories are fluid–is not thought of in moral terms. It is seen either as a mild irritant or as an opportunity. It is a way of getting things done, neither more nor less than what money is there for.
Well, you could rejuvenate a man like a tree. Cut off bad memories of him, scrape off all pain, all disappointments, like dead tissue; cut off mistakes, stupid decisions, mistakes, x-ray thoughts. And that it could be done after each winter so that the new year could come clean and innocent. We know—one of the following winters will kill us.
In this one life, this one life that you have to live, you must embrace every moment that creeps into your existence. You must feel every possible emotion to realize you’re really alive, you’re really living. If you build walls and you hide behind them in fear, you’re not embracing moments, you’re not actually living.