Tuesday, 22 December 2009

YULETIDE…The good, The BAR, The ugly…

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In a cab, whistling happily in tune with the carols filtering from the air waves, Holiday!…a break from the stifling animosity of court rooms, the torture of insomniac research, penning long briefs and considered opinions, the plague of monotonous speeches to yawning sparse audience at Legal forums, the overall purgatory of law practice... I recline further on my seat and close my eyes; a wave of benign affection washes over me and I feel at peace with the world...
Christmas is made particularly blissful by the fact that it is a time for giving...in full measure, the world is at its most receptive, thus messages that ordinarily will be lost in the haze of daily humdrum are easily passed across this season… with the right words, the right gifts...

Oh yes! Chief on the list…a gift for my boss! A necessary evil that yearly leaves a chasm in my pocket, because my boss is an uncommon woman…she has a heart of gold, a virtue she wears heavily round her neck and on her fingers. She cannot be caught dead wearing cheaper metal and accepts no other gifts as a matter of principle; she therefore takes a huge chunk off my Yuletide budget. For the time being, I am reluctant to invoke dark clouds with gifts of silver linings, more so, in this season of sacrifice, she may just decide I am best suited for that purpose among her workforce, so I need to melt her heart adequately to solder my dreams of one day becoming partner…

But  I am certainly going to draw a line at giving on that obnoxious Chief Bala who I had always deluded myself was my PP (Translation: The under-the table-client tucked away from the Firm’s view) Wealthy bastard, I thought I had landed the big break when we met but I gradually discovered his philanthropic disposition is identical to Silas Marner’s. After numerous expenses I had run up from his often contradictory instructions, I was reasonably expecting a tidy End of the Year pay-off. Last week, I went over and announced my travel plans a third time to him managing to squeeze my opinions on the growing harshness of the economy into the same sentence. The obese tight-fist grunts his agreement, and calls his boy to get the package for Barrister. In my anticipation I started gushing about how his business acumen had transformed my outlook during the brief period of our relationship (What’s keeping the boy so long!) bla bla bla.. The boy appears with a small carton of cheap tin tomatoes, vegetable oil and a fruit drink… ‘This one na for ya Christmas, Barrister’, and he buries his face in a magazine.  The message was clear; go stew in your own juice!
I’m still boiling, and I have a good heart to encourage EFCC to do a tentative audit on his assets.

Ok, I should calm down, it is not a time for bitterness, it is a season for praying for ones enemies. I had not fully understood this injunction until the night of the Christmas dinner organized by an illustrious Silk from our geographical section of the National Bar. There they were, the learned seniors, haughty old millionaires gloating in the affluence they had amassed from the practice of law, and inputting acute pangs of inferiority within our ranks- the struggling juniors. Swaggering in patronizing arrogance on their lofty perches, they elaborately handed down greeting cards and souvenirs to us. The cards bore such inscriptions as ‘…May the New Year aid your growth in wisdom…’ Smiling our thanks, we swallow the obvious insults in huge gulps of red wine standing in contra-distinction from the champagne bottles on the high table. It is a season for turning the other cheek.  But my moment came during the closing prayers. I jumped up to take the role before the verbose secretary had struggled through his unwieldy closing remarks … ‘Father…let a new legal order arise from our midst and in the New Year may the old pass away…’ The Amen chorus that followed my prayer was not weighty enough…but then, lawyers are not popular for their religiosity.

Back to sharing gifts…I have not left my colleagues out…Especially the flippant KK, considered the genius of the firm on the strength of no other value but his ability to design power-point slides (that the rest of you should emulate) and speak English through that nose I would give an eye to pinch... legacies from an over-priced educational career.  My affection for him has not been nurtured by his frequent Back in the States chit-chat with the boss that cruelly sidelines some of us who are a bit like Peugeot cars…made for Nigeria.  Recently he has been lending me unsolicited views on the nature of my research…I had been thinking of a good way to tell him that his opinions stink…so his gift is already packed: a giant bottle of Mouthwash.
That leaves Ujunwa and Tope, two exasperating shrews (spinsters of course!) always on the prowl for the slightest sexist speech. I will get them wrist watches, a gracious way to point out to them that time ticks away and while the beautiful ones may not yet be born; the handsome ones are all getting married. On second thoughts, since they are both always on the Internet, It is better to visit their Face book profile and post them 'time waste for no one' links. I credit them with enough intelligence to read writings on the Wall.

I try to keep away from my friends in corporate practice at this period, but they insist on seeking me out. Their smooth-faced freshness and oily boardroom drawls are depressants. And the conversation never goes beyond Litigation versus Corporate Law… ‘Massai, you are wasting away in litigation, going about fomenting trouble…’ That irritant, Chibyke will quip. ‘It is a season of peace for Pete’s sake!’  Yes, I agree, but peace can only be found in men of good wheels…boosted by end-of-year bonuses alien to the average street lawyer. Oh Santa, will you do just this one thing for me? Blaze a flaming torch round the snows as u reindeer down their big, tax-dodging corporations… the accompanying meltdown will get them all out on the streets to join me in my jalopy …a good way to drive home the need for social justice.

Christmas Carols always held a lot of nostalgia for me because I did a bit of singing as a choir boy in those lost days of innocence. But no more! I went for a CAROL-FEST organized by some charity institution with a lot of important sounding names in attendance. The performance was however done not by the usual cherub faced choir kids; celebrities in the Music industry took the role. Singing the lead was one of those psychedelic females in a ghastly flutter of eyelashes and rouged cheeks, introducing unwarranted sensuality to the chaste lines of Christmas songs. I was awash with thankfulness that the Magi did not have this kind of star to lead them to our Lord. It would have been contempt of galactic proportions.

Have I exhausted my well wishes? Oh I forget my policeman friends…they never stop my car… Probably sacred stiff of the conspicuous NBA sticker on my windscreen, or do I flatter myself? It may be the Can anything good come from Nazareth line that keeps them off when they see my smoking exhaust pipes and tremulous bumpers. In any case, for Christmas, just for Christmas, I will tear off the NBA stickers...in the spirit of sharing.

I will end with an open apology to my Client’s tenants at CBN estate considering that I have made quite a string of friends there. I will come around tomorrow acting under the instructions of my client, your landlord to deliver the traditional well-wishes cards praying that the New Year ushers in a raise in your circumstances…side by side with the card, I shall also bear a Notice to review your rent…upwards.

Published in Thisday Newspapers: December 22, 2009- http://allafrica.com/stories/200912220367.html