It all started with a facebook status update.
He posted:”Can you believe people?!!! You come 2 me wiv an idea and I pick it up n run wiv it – as fast as I can. For some odd reason I look behind to find you haven’t even left the startin line!“
This drew quite a few comments from friends who thought it was about a girl. It really was about a girl, but not in the way they thought. He had a laugh reading their comments. He thought them all quite amusing for assuming they had him all figured out, then he saw her comment. She had read it, recognized it was aimed at her, understood what it was about, but missed the mark at the motive. She did not understand why, and did not ask for clarification.
She just replied “… INSTEAD OF RUNNING WITH OTHER PEOPLE’S IDEAS, SIT DOWN AND CONCEIVE YOURS! THEN YOU REALISE IT’S JUST MUCH EASIER TO RUN!“
Those words cut him deep, though he tried to hide it with an “Ouch! Cheap shot” come back. It all started with a facebook comment, but it really started well before that.
Words, spoken and written, had always held an attraction for him. As a child attending ota akara, the equivalent of the Kindergarten system, he loved rhymes, pictures and stories. Back home he would take the readers and textbooks of his older siblings and, flipping through the pages, would concoct stories based on the sequence of pictures. All of these without recognizing more than a handful of the English alphabets, and none of the words. His two-plus year old imagination would simply take flight!
When he came of age and was told he would be starting school, the elation in his heart showed up as anxiety on his five year old face making his mother wonder if she should wait one more year. He was after all her baby. For days before he went, he had bad dreams that she changed her mind!
On the day she took him to get registered, he carefully selected his clothes for this special occasion: a pair of dark blue jean shorts with more pockets than he would ever need; his favourite t-shirt, a white affair with a green neckband and a drawing he later came to realise was snow capped mountains with the words ALASKA emblazoned across it. He preferred his shirts flying, but his mom was having none of that. She tucked the shirt into the shorts, causing his big belly button to jut out. He spent the better part of the walk to school pulling his shorts over his belly button, trying to flatten it with the waist band.
Standing in line, he felt all grown up and could not understand why some of the other children were crying and clutching their mother’s wrappers or their father’s hands. He just wanted his mother to go so he could get on with getting this education!
He loved reading, liked writing, but he learnt early that there were bills to be paid and writing, at the time, did not seem like such a profitable way to do so.
He comes from one of those families where everybody was on a list. As one of his lecturers aptly put it, you were either a cost centre or a profit centre. During your younger days you were put on the list of people who were given money, but the moment you got your NYSC call-up letter, you made the transition from that list to the list of people who gave the money.
With that background, writing took a back burner. So far back a burner, it almost got forgotten.
That was until a colleague at work invited him to work with her on a magazine project. He liked the idea and went straight to work on it. For days he would bury himself in the world of his PC. His relationship took a knock, for between his day job and this new project, there was hardly time for anything else. He even ate one-handed while still either punching keys, or making small notes. Sometimes he would forgo meals altogether – he had agreed to contribute as a regular columnist and as an editor so there was much brainstorming to be done.
He approached another colleague of theirs who had a similar idea. The plan was to get them to work together, and since this merger was his idea, the onus lay on him to harmonise their works.
Long story short, he had all his articles for a full year ready, all six of them, but his colleagues had yet to agree on certain fundamental aspects of fusing their ideas.
That was when he posted the update on facebook!
Following her suggestion, he showed his works to an old friend of his who, after reading them, told him he wrote like a girl. That was indeed high praise coming from her! Armed with the confidence generated by her compliment, and his articles – he had written some others since he had those juices flowing now – he approached the publishers of a magazine. He was asked to send in his work which he did. He is still waiting for acknowledgement of receipt of the work.
Frustrated before he even started, he posted the articles as notes one after the other on facebook. The response from friends who read them told him he could not possibly be such a ‘weist’.
I will be the first to admit that I do not have any formal training for this. The extent of my training is the same for millions of people out there: Primary and Secondary education in public schools, then further education at a Federal Polytechnic.
My brother put in a few words with a couple of people, and within a week told me he had sent my works to a Bims. All of my works!
“Emboy u jus fall my hand. E go dey obvious now say person be JJC.” I moaned.
“I no know nau. Oya no vex.” came his reply.
Then two weeks later, I got a text followed by a mail from the Bims, it was to mark the start of an all new phase of my life. 360nobs became the Fox Corporation to my Simon Cowell. AIRtiquette became my Idols – my very own show.
So there you have it, the story of how Franque’s Friday came to be. In the past year, I have added relationSHEEP and fatherWOOD to the ‘products’ on offer here, and MEMOry lane elsewhere. In all that time you, all of you have believed and egged me on.
PS: As for my colleagues and their magazine(s), let us say it is still work in progress. We, on the other hand, are 360nobs – admin and readers alike. And if Marilyn Monroe is right in saying that “Imperfection is beauty and madness is genius. It is better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring”, then the least we can do is to make sure this show goes on.