I have been nocturnal for as long as I know myself.
My energy level rises at night and I become strangely creative. The night pumps some adrenaline into my blood, blows up my sugar level and make me hyper-active, like a dopey athlete on extra shot of heroin.
While the world snores off its ass, I’m somewhere cracking an advertising brief, creating a User Interface, or weirdly reading an old book with a candlelight, or lazily sipping Jameson in a downtown bar with my goons.
I habitually sat for hours on a balcony couch in my Okota home and watched the night unfold, observing different elements conjoin to produce that beautiful ‘aha’ moment.
I love seeing the strong night breeze conspiring with the tall palm trees, and creating an explosive gush of cold wind. I love hearing the owl hoot and sending shrieking sensation through the dark hour. I enjoy the peace and tranquility of the hours, especially on a rainy night.
Ceteris paribus, I’m a fan of the night.
That aside, my kind of job requires that I night-crawl. From being a pop-culture strategist across advertising, experiential marketing, innovation, and marketing technology, day time has always been a period to implement what was conceived at night. The day is for execution, night for conception.
Guess what? I am a guy that conceive.
Weirdly, my love for night has also driven me to experience night times at different places outside my home; at workplace, friends’ apartment in Surulere or Lekki, some night bar, in the church, some crooky Anthony hotels, and even in my car; either parked in front of a nightclub, or on a few occasions, crazily driving around Lagos at night.
All in search for that ‘wawu’ campaign idea.
However, this piece is not about me, nor my nocturnal lifestyle.
No! Not even about my old Toyota Camry car with dented bumber.
Nor the melodramatic policemen daily upsetting the midnight Okada riders.
Not even about the ‘Oloshos’ who ubiquitously invade the privacy of our night-time.
Nor the ‘Oko Ashewo’, the all-knowing, the all-doing, the round-round Lagos.
Not about Baba Buhari nor his Star Boy, Osinbajo.
And finally, not about those little boys and girls having midnight sex under Oshodi bridge.
It is about a guy I met during the Zero Hours.
He was my street night guard who doubles as the gatekeeper. We meet almost every night and along the line, we bonded. Whenever he sees me, he would jump up and rush to open the gate, simultaneously giving me a 21-gun-salute. Later, he became familiar with my headlight and would sight me 50 meters away. Of course, I would pause briefly at the gate to exchange pleasantries and he would ask about my work and say a word of prayer.
An elderly man of about 50+, averagely built, with dark sunken eyes and incomplete set of teeth. His eyes were permanently red-coloured, either from excessive intake of alcohol or marijuana puff.
Or severe and prolonged hardship.
He is a very diligent man, always on his duty post. He never keeps me waiting, and leaves me with a positive feeling. And because I also live a cashless lifestyle, I usually don’t have sizable cash to give him. I honestly don’t remember him until I turned into the street, so I would apologize and promise him ‘next day’. Jovially, Baba would say ‘anytime, I dey here’.
This continued everyday.
Until one day.
I stopped by the ATM to get some cash for my ‘friend’. I was happy that at last, I was going to reward him for his service and loyalty. I whistled happily as I dangled home in isolation.
100 meters away. I sighted the gate.
50 meters. The gate was still shut.
20 meters. 15. 12.
‘Where in hell is this guy?’
Then I got to the gate with my full headlight on.
I blared the horn, anger welling up inside of me.
Its fucking past midnight man!
A man staggered out of a shadow and made an attempt to open the gate. He had probably slept deeply as he kept grappling with the gate. After a few attempts, he succeeded and I drove in. I thanked him and asked.
He pointed to a figure lying on the floor in a makeshift stall.
Baba made some money that day and was in a merry mood. So he went to Anty Kafaya Bar, got pissedly drunk of cheap ‘pakurumo’ liquor and lost it. He managed to stagger to his duty post and passed out.
I looked at his specially prepared money-gift in my hand, but Baba could not rise to the occasion. I sighed, put the money in the glove compartment and drove on.
May we not be sleeping on the day of our blessing.