She held up a 1000 naira note like she had never seen one before. She spread it out, holding its two top edges with the tip of the fingers of both her hands, seemingly examining it. I wondered what she was thinking but I wasn’t surprised by her ‘unique’ mannerisms, I had grown quite used to and fond of the way she ruminated on things. For everything she found interesting, she would stare at it, often for minutes on end, totally blocking out the distractions of us mere mortals as she transcended into realms of divine knowledge. Often, in those situations when she thought of something interesting, she would look over her glasses at me like the stereotypical Nigerian professor and ask for my opinion. Now was one of those times.
“How?” she asked me, “How did we humans give this piece of paper this much power?”. She looked over her glasses at me, imploring me to give an answer.
“It’s the concept of it, what the paper symbolises and not the paper itself”I replied rather smugly.
“You know what I’m talking about jare”
“I don’t know, Yemi, I’m not like you. I don’t ask myself these questions that don’t have answers” I said dismissively, although I knew she would not let me go so easily.
Her expression transformed to one of mild annoyance.
“Why do you always do this, Richard?” she asked, partly to me and partly under her breath. It was her show of annoyance, I knew I would have to answer her, “you give yourself too little credit a lot of the time, and frankly it can be a bit boring to watch.”
She took a long sip of her coffee and looked over her glasses at me again, expectant but giving me licence to ponder. After a while, I answered.
“I honestly don’t know, it defies proper natural logic. But then human beings have been opposing logic for a while now.” I said, “it’s borne out of the inherent need to accumulate, often unnecessarily. On the surface, it’s very logical to have a standardised currency but over time, we have become slaves to it and are driven by the need to acquire more and more of it. We have equated the possession of money to our ability to live and as a species have suffered for it…”
I trailed off when I noticed her staring and smiling at me. That smile of unabashed pride. That smile I had become unable to live without, that drove me to extremes I wasn’t proud of.
“What?” I asked, flushing slightly.
“Good answer”. I could tell she could tell that she had me under her spell.
Under my breath, I muttered:”humans have always had their gods”. And I knew that to be the truth.