It was another weekend. All that was on my mind was submitting the documents to my client and leaving the towers. I had to catch the Virgin Nigeria 18.35 flight out of Abuja. I just hoped that Mercy would not have closed by the time I got upstairs.

Mercy was not there when I got upstairs. She did not come to work that day! Fortunately, Ebun was there to receive the documents from me. After acknowledging receipt of the documents, I grabbed the acknowledgement copy and headed for the lift. Luckily, I did not have to wait for long before the lift came by. When the doors pulled open, I got in to find there was no one else in it apart from the lift operator. It was a quite ride all the way from the 6th floor till we reached the 2nd floor. The lift operator broke the silence when he greeted in a low, timid voice

“Happy Weekend”. 

In Lagos, where I have been leaving for the last 5 years, When a man greets you happy weekend, he actually expects you to respond by giving him a tip. Just something to enjoy the weekend with. So, without hesitating, I pulled out my wallet and reached for some note to give the man.

“Oga, abeg you go manage am o cos e no much”

I pleaded as I stretched the money towards him. The man looked shocked and embarrassed. His expression was like “What could have warranted this insult from this young man”. I was very embarrassed. I apologised deeply to him. Then there was dead silence in the lift. After what seemed like hours, the lift finally reached the ground floor and the doors opened. I apologised once again as I bolted out glad to leave his tormenting presence. Despite all my apologies, I still felt very bad.

When I got to the office I narrated the incident to my colleague. He laughed!

“Don’t you see the phones those guys carry and the clothes they wear?”

He asked.

Omo leave oh! These guys are very well paid. I would not be suprised if he has a brand new car outside in the parking lot. If anyone around greets me happy weekend, my response is happy weekend! I don’t take chances.”

The lesson had sunk in. I packed my bag and headed for the basement where the driver was waiting for me.

The next week started on a good note but somehow I found myself consciously avoiding that lift operator. I opted to use the other lifts at the western wing of the tower with the hope that I do not bump into him. This went on till Wednesday when like the prodigal son, I came to myself.

“Would you run forever son?”

I asked myself.

Why not face your devil once and for all so that you can be free again?”

I decided I was consciously going to watch out for him to apologise and lay the matter to rest.

It was about 10 a.m on Friday. I was going upstairs for a review meeting with my client. I decided to use the lift. When the lift door opened it was him! Finally!! Unfortunately, all I could do was graciously nod a good morning to him as the lift was full.

“Well, I would catch you later”

I thought to myself.

As I went about my activities, I discovered I was actually looking forward to the encounter. Somehow, throughout the day, the second lift always seemed to come around before his. But my moment finally came at about 4 p.m. When the lift door pulled opened he was alone. I greeted him as I stepped in.

“How is the day?”

I asked

“Fine oh!”

He replied.

“Sorry about last week”

I said looking into his eyes

“Last week?”

He asked.

“What happened last week?”

“You can’t remember?”

I asked.

 “Please remind me”

He pleaded.

“If you can’t remember then the better for the two of us.”

I responded

“Ah! Remind me now…”

He begged.

“Let it pass. It’s nothing”

I responded.

With a puzzled look on his facing, still trying to recall whatever could have happened, he smiled and said something I would never forget.

“Last week?… But this week has been good. Why bother about last week?”

I thought briefly about it, smiled and nodded my head. Just about then the lift door opened. As I stepped out I greeted him Happy Weekend. This time not guilty-stricken as I felt a week before, but with confidence and a clear conscience – the kind that comes with true freedom.

“At last. That has been put to rest.”

I thought as I headed back to my office. With each step I took, I knew It was truly going to be a happy weekend!

Well, I have faced my devil. What about you? What, in your last week, are you still holding on to? Is it worth the burden it has placed on you? Why not address it and put it behind you? Remember, you remain it’s prisoner until you address it. And like me, you may just find out that it has moved on!

So what are you waiting for? Forgive yourself, apologise to that person, pick up the phone and make that call, send a text message, send an instant message, leave an offline, walk up to him/her. Face your devil. Free yourself. When you open the dragon’s cage to face it, you may be surprised to find that it has been the shadow of a praying mantis that has been terrifying you all along.


– Deji Olatunde

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