When he was in primary school, he recalled that it was about two families that had dogs in his village. Not even his village proper, nearby villages. One was a chemist and the other a retired soldier.
He could not recall any incident that warrants dogs as security means. He suspected now as he reminisced that those two figures were those that has mixed a lot with other tribes. Those dogs were just pets they returned to village with. Both even has nothing that warrants stealing accept their brain then. That was around 1978.
Imagine how that village some refers to as countryside was in 78. So interior. Everyone seems to know each other per say. That was how everyone came to know also about the dogs.
The retired soldier was given work as security at the high school while the chemist opened a medium sized dispensary store at the daily market there. Then, there was no hospital and the chemist was serving as sole physician in the whole local government area.
Mr. Charles the chemist used to come to work daily with his dog. On reflection, John don’t recall anyone including the chemist of talking about veterinary medicine or anything connecting to animals health. Imagine the irony, the animal must have been full of rabies. Yet, the chemist that should have known better never for once put leash on the dog.
The dog and the faith the villagers had on the man then was even one of the things that made him more famous outside his profession.
John recalled that before those two dogs came to the village, there was incidents of dogs attacking and killing two people in 60s that made the town Union to ban dogs in the town.
“How come then these two owners were allowed to keep theirs?” John had queried his father.
“ They had license from the state government” his father had answered.
But John is not buying that answers now, he believes it was the case of education, money, exposure and status. No one gave them nothing, both were poor to warrant paying taxes to government for dogs. Above all, the law don’t know anything about banning dogs by town Union.
The villagers, town Union, king and his cabinet don’t know any better, they were illiterate. To the village kids, the dogs were spectacular. They liven up the at times over silent village with their barkings.
You might be wondering about the goats and sheeps, those ones are hungry or over fed to challenge the dogs barking once the dogs are at it.
The chemist must have been quack then, infact, he was in John’s estimation now judging from what he can see with his adult mind now. For him to have returned to the village then, to open that chemist store attested to it.
Whatever the name of the poverty that drove him back to the village must have been God sent. He opened a store that has nothing inside, but within six months, every corner was overflowing. He even bought that Volkswagen car that secondary School principals were known by then in 70s.
No one even knew truly if Mr. Charles was a qualified chemist or not. He came back from Lagos where he had been practicing his trade. People don’t recall the man entering tertiary institution. It must have been one of those apprenticeship people engage in the cities. But in the eye of the adults then, he was the most enlightened in health sector in Nigeria. If you add the white overall he likes to put on and that stethoscope he wears perennially on his shoulder, you realize why he was an era in health sector in that town. He even does house call.
He only stays two hours in that store each day. The rest was on house call for the rich and their hangers-on.
The poor visits his store and house for every structure identified with the man then makes money. But his house is where people don’t like going due to that dog. The dog kept circling visitors and the chemist kept speaking English that the dog kept ignoring.
One Monday morning, Mr. Charles woke up to check his bank account which is under his bed. The bank in existence near them then was the post office bank. The people don’t even value banks then, few enlightened ones don’t value post office banks. It was considered inferior to the full commercial banks then. So, under the beds were people’s banks then.
Government was determined to power the banks by given it exclusive treatment other Banks don’t have. Any processing that concerns banks the federal government is embarking on has to go through the post office bank.
As with humans, Mr. Charles woke up one day to discover that he has overgrown the village he was born in. He realized that he was then too educated, too rich to be among the illiterate villagers that made him. He found one teenager and started teaching him dos and don’t’s of his business. How to administer each, who and who is his valued clients. His car he handed over to his elder sister.
He went back to Lagos with his accumulated bank account where those with his status belong. That was two years after coming back from the same city almost empty.
He left his dog with the teenager. Maybe, he believes he has overgrown the dog or that the dog that came from Lagos with him is now too local to return to Lagos with him again after two years.
He had this dream of striking it bigger once in Lagos the commercial capital city as it is known. He believes he can now compete with others judging from capital he had. But money is one thing and wisdom another. He has overconfidence which is bad as not having any in business world.
Story had it that it was lack of money that sent him to village in the first place. But problem with anything coming from Mr. Charles is that it can’t be trusted and it can’t be verified. He is an island unto himself. His myth and reality is one and the same. He has this proud and aloof spirit which came to fore after a year of coming back and people suspected it must have been that period he started seeing money in large quantities. He returned poor and humble and left two years later rich and aloof.
Some narrowed it to the city he came from.
“ His ways are that of Yoruba’s he came from” the villagers would always say.
The man himself seems not to understand the people he was with. They might be poor and illiterate, but not stupid. They can tell the enemy from friend no matter the smile and words coming from the person.
To all that knew Mr. Charles the chemist, the man has attitude problem but son of the soil is son of the soil. They had decided to carry him along.
He never showed the teenager any other thing concerning the dog, it’s doctor, how taxes were paid or papers, no medications. No agreement with town Union etc. Just how to feed it and when.
The dog itself seems to be rioting in its own way since Mr. Charles left it in the care of the teenager who the villagers had started referring to as doctor only two months after Mr. Charles. Even Mr. Charles don’t bear that title. The dog felt betrayed, abandoned. It barked at nothing for almost two months, embarked on what should be referred to as fasting for a month. It eats only once a day for a month before resorting to it’s original three meals a day. Maybe, it has gotten use to it new owner and environment and resigned to fate.
The arrangement was to send money and orders from post office bank to him in Lagos and collect the consignment in the state capital after two weeks.
“ By this system, I can monitor the progress of the store” he had concluded.
The arrangement was working smoothly for five months and on the sixth, the teenager started noticing discrepancies from Lagos end. The items sent back is half of the money sent and whenever he complained, plausible explanations always come from Lagos.
On middle of November, eight months after relocating to Lagos, Mr. Charles the chemist came stumbling back towards the store around 4:00pm hauling one sack bag, skinny and unkempt. The dog was the first to noticed him before even the doctor was able to place the figure stumbling towards him.
He had believed that it was with affection that the dog was rushing towards him and had bent to stroke it and gave out a loud piercing cry when a sharp pain registered on his out stretched hand and moment later, he was on the ground while the dog was on top of him. The doctor was able to draw the dog away from him and created space from the crowds that gathered, Mr. Charles refused his doctor administering to him and insisted on being taken to state capital hospital very fast.
He was even barking like the dog on getting to the hospital. He went into coma like for almost five weeks. His eye will be open and yet he was unaware of the happening and people around him. It was on first of January around 2:00pm that he really opened his eye to the chorus of “ happy new year to you Mr. Charles” from six nurses and his store doctor who had followed his recovery and anticipated his quasi recovery by the new year.