the story of decisions

We were default on the balcony rail. We always bent over it to talk about yesterdays and tomorrows. The house belonged to a lifetime family of friends. We met every once a while when he came to town. It was 1998. He was 24 and I was 19.

  • Dotun But I keep saying it. Loving you this much is unlike the cousins we’ve always been. Nothing’s changed about you when it comes to their honest opinion and your grades. Please stay true to the promise. Industrial Chemistry is just a few months away. My fiancee and I made a solid convo of it. I’ll be back to take you away to live with me until you’re ready for college.
  • Jimi I easily understand why you’re doing it. Whatever I’m going to miss around here, there’s a lot we need to catch up on planes without pilots. And my dad’s not surprised you could make variety bombs. I know you told me not to tell anyone. But that was my bargain to get him to let go of you over grandpa’s bed.
  • Dotun I believe it worked out fine. He called me D.O. Dot again with that long smile the last time I saw him!
  • Jimi It doesn’t look like you’re headed for the chalkboard after graduation. Some mother’s son in this family is already fairing well in that direction. What’s the plan?
  • Dotun Go back to Uthman Dan Fodio in the next fortnight. Gather my affairs at the faculty and bid a hard goodbye to my professors. It’s just a year of service afterwards. It’s elegantly noble like I told you, but I won’t make a living from teaching. I’d rather do that for free, always. Trust me I’ll find another noble thing to do that writes my name in the sands of time.
  • Dotun Fasina travelled back to Sokoto to wrap up with varsity. But he never returned. The interstate commercial carrier that transported him, his fiancee and 13 other passengers from Sokoto en route Lagos was involved in an auto crash in the early hours of November, 1998. The vehicle driver, according to recovery reports, must have fallen asleep through many tiring intervals during the journey. All the other 13 passengers including the vehicle driver died instantly in the tumbling crash. 72 hours after his rescue, Dotun died at UCH. His fiancee survived the fall-out after years-long post-traumatic disorder.

    It is just a story. That of one everyday person known only to his loved ones and some friends he left behind in this world. But I have never stopped thinking of what he could have become in life. I learnt about drones from him long before there was Jane’s Defense Weekly, New Scientist, or In-Q-Tel’s venture research to read from. I kept his bomb-making secret from the rest of the family until that secret was useful for mending my father’s strained relationship with him. He wept like a baby when he received the news of his death. More than probable for a cousin, Dotun was a universe of promises. That was how much he meant to all of us. In helpless admission, I am yet lost in inconsolable imagination of how many more Dotuns have become missing in many families out there due to preventable accidents. And that is because I took away three things from this story:

    • How do you relate a commercial vehicle’s lifecycle to the probability of an accident event; and then determine the adequate frame of mind per certain distance for a commercial vehicle driver billed to transport passengers?
    • How can you assure effective and affordable evacuation and healthcare services when accidents become inevitable; and then effciently keep and retrieve medical records of accident victims after treatment, assuming the treatment is subject to metrics?
    • How do you even make driving accident-free?

the story of time

He was my father’s youngest half-brother. He wanted so much to be like him. How well life would turn out for his younger siblings in a countryside background begging for such examples mattered more to the big brother than his own professional success. That succcess antecendently exceeded the anticipation of a lot of people even on the far side of his native environment. He had gone on to become a civil and electrical engineer that helped expatriate Germans with various sophisticated industrial complexes.

As preternaturally technical as his older brother, my very young uncle became such an itinerant technician who lived life on the road in distant projects. Such several awkward occasions as my father would go and look for him and bring him back home to open a new chapter in life different from work passed for a numberless count. A busily creative engineer’s mind is untouchably crucial to humanity, as far as my father is concerned. But if he could live it over again, my father told me that he would have been married with kids earlier than he did. Family is unassailably important. Even his hardworking German friends who were largely far away from mother country always conceded. He didn’t want his younger brother to end up like him.

Shortly after starting a young family he would mostly abandon with my father, my uncle made one more journey out from Lagos to the deep South for an engineering project he was implacably enthusiastic about. A woman cousin told other family members that she spoke to him on the phone when his journeying commercial bus had reached Ikirun according to what my uncle told her. It was the last time anyone alive heard from him.

Not even the hysterical rally to search and find my uncle I witnessed as a little boy turned up right. The family knew the bus terminal his journey started from. But there was no record of him leaving this terminal. If it were possible to track his phone, his mobile network service needed a police report to help the family with his entire call log and approximate or exact geolcation. To provide the report, the police demanded money resources and in fact required jurisdictional authority. To wit, you can tell that it takes something beyond the use of computers and algorithms to solve this mystery.

Every such a chance moment, the mystery’s refusal of a closure leaves my father wide awake. Turn your back on it and you will always find it waiting ahead of you. It probably won’t get you so far. But you are left with many things that qualify for logical irrationality. Perhaps they are even more important questions to ask, but these two things have since stayed with me:

  • Nowadays, terminal e-tickets make the mystery look like passenger transporters have sent rockets to space, but is there any record log owned and managed by relevant authorities of how many people have left and entered the country by road today?
  • Pipelines and railways share social obscurity for a common feature with oxygen gas. Even if no one cares about what electricity means to safe transportation and what safe transportation means to economic security, was 1975 too late to invent the GPS?