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MONEY WON'T MAKE YOU HAPPY BUT EVERYONE WANTS TO FIND OUT FOR THEMSELVES “You know Victor, money won’t necessarily make yo...


“You know Victor, money won’t necessarily make you happy,” he remarked as we walked through the biting winter cold. It was mid-January in London, England and the winter’s grip on the old city had just tightened by a few grueling knots. “I hope to find out for myself Johnson,” I answered right away. I had heard the same line from many other people, and I was not about to be lectured on a subject on which I felt I had amassed enough knowledge and experience….I mean, tough practical experience. Johnson was my professor during my years as a doctoral student in England. He had been promising to bring me a text on Microbial Biochemistry, but he seemed to forget every time. On this day he finally remembered, but his extreme forgetfulness was not about to vanish in a fell swoop. He left it downstairs in his car. He needed to drive somewhere, so I went downstairs with him to pick up the text so he wouldn’t take it home. I was not about to let that happen after waiting for the text for several weeks. He unlocked his BMW, stuck his head in and dug out the hefty text, which he quickly thrust upon me. I took hold of it with relief. I needed that text badly for my research. “Think about it, money may solve some of your problems but it won’t necessarily make you happy,” he insisted.

I watched his clean BMW as he slowly sank into the cozy, leather seat. By the way I am not one to be overly tripping over flashy cars or the like, but as I watched him ready his car to zoom off, I could not help but think of the war I had fought earlier that morning. While he was cruising his way to London from Surrey, a scenic suburb, I was on a platform on the London underground at Gant’s Hill station shoving and pummeling my way through an angry and unyielding mass of humanity, fighting to get off and onto the train headed for central London. In order to keep the heating bill on the low side, we had to ration heating in the building where I lived. My tiny room, which was constantly quarrelling with my bed for space was chilly because the heat was turned down, all in the name of saving MONEY. My room had filed a law suit against my bed on several occasions, laying serious claims on the real estate in the room that was hardly enough to contain the air in the room and the bed at the same time, not to talk of myself the rent payer. I had to look over my shoulders constantly, wondering when I would be served a summon to appear in court at the behest of my tiny, angry room.

Earlier that morning, I had two giant duvets over me, nearly cutting off my air supply as I tried to save my skin from the marauding cold. While Professor Johnson only had to get his car heated and drive to town, I jugged my way to the station in a frantic effort to keep from freezing in-between. “Johnson,” I said emphatically to him. “Yes,” he answered. “I am willing to find out for myself. Money is not everything, but it is reasonably close to oxygen,” I added, borrowing the words of the great Zig Ziglar. He burst into a raucous laughter. Obviously, he had never heard that one before. “You are an ambitious young man I am sure you will find out someday,” he quipped. “I am looking forward to it. I can’t wait!” “Good luck then,” he said as he revved up the mighty engine and zoomed along New Cavendish Street towards Tottenham Court Road.

Life is really all about perspective I though as I hastily walked back upstairs. I recalled a dear friend who had told me a few months earlier that he took his girlfriend to the London Eye in the summer. She had just visited from Nigeria, so she was not quite attuned to the Pound Sterling and the pains of earning it. My friend had put away some money to make sure he gave her that particular treat (a ride on the London Eye), knowing that she was visiting from home. By the time they descended from the magnificent wheel (The London Eye), his girlfriend saw boats careening along River Thames. Some peddlers were on hand, smiling and waving, eager to talk people into buying tickets for the boat ride – at quite a cost I must mention. My friend said his heart was pounding like an old locomotive engine, hammering persistently against his poor ribs, as he prayed she would not indicate interest in the boat ride.

His prayers were not answered on this occasion. She took serious interest in the ride and asked if he could kindly purchase tickets for it. The problem was, he did not have the money. Every penny in his pocket had been budgeted, and even if he were to slash something else off their skinny schedule, he could not afford the boat ride. The peddler who had succeeded in convincing his girlfriend looked on with boisterous anticipation, as he hoped to make a sale. My friend wanted to shoot him with his eyes. As a Naija guy though, an idea jumped at him - shall we say, he had an epiphany. “I am allergic to water sweetheart,” he answered out of the blues, in a desperate attempt to save his face (or maybe his pocket). “Oh No! Don’t worry honey,” his girlfriend answered, trustingly. He leapt inside in celebration of his mighty victory. Tell me, who is allergic to water? I guess being broke can cause that. My friend grandly concurs with the hypothesis that a lack of money can infect you with ailments you never knew existed – such as water allergy. I wonder how he reacts when he drinks water! I wanted to run after Professor Johnson and share that story with him in the bid to drive home my contention that money can be reasonably close to oxygen under certain circumstances.

This story was written by:

Victor Chinoo

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