CHAPTER 3 - The Newcormer
“Daddy, why this night?” asked Junior, “Why can’t we go in the morning to offer the twins a better view of the place?
“Mr. Winkle is going back to night flight is scheduled for 10pm and I’ve promised to see him off.’ Father explained.
Ken asked “Who is Mr. Winkle?” “oh, he is our firm’s overseas consultant” said Uncle John “he lives in the United Kingdom but his here on a business trip.
And is going back home again tonight” said Tai. Uncle John’s “umm’ the boy said. “I can’t understand this while people at all, their names are no funny, if they are not ‘salt’ then they would ‘pepper’ Ken chuckled Tai continue “I wonder if they have names with meanings like ours such as Gbadebo and Emeka or even Ahmed instead of all these funny names of “Roast, Beef and pepper”.
“Which all grills doven to ‘suya’ Gbadebo said laughing “ I wonder if they can stand the hot pepper in suya. Junior smiled shaking his head at the prospect “oh no! exclaimed Ken “you will soon have them speaking with their ears instead of noses.
the others burst into uncontrollable laughter as Tai reached out for Uncle John’s reading glasses that was lying on the center table patched it on the tip his nose, hands deep in his trouser pockets, head nodding like a well fed lizard, he mimicked through his nose, ‘mon-name-is-mister-resperiwinkle”
I am ready when you are children uncle soon called as they all trooped out to the gray Peugeot 504 station wagon on the porch, the night guard opened the door for them and they speed off into the night.
“But Uncle, where does this Mr. Winkel or is it Wrinkle live” Tai asked.
“Mr. Winkle is putting up at Ikoyi hotel” said Mr. Oju, “we are going there first to collect him then to the airport.
“When I like Lagos better at night than during his day? Ken said gassing at the bright street lights and the colourful lights of the shaping miller as their as their car speedby.
“And the breeze is fresh and cool too” Tai added unlike in the afternoon when the vehicles were crowding at snail speed and everywhere was hot and stuffy. Beatrice was silent as she gazed at the passing scenery
“ I am going to enjoy Lagos after all” she concluded in her hearth. “You are so quiet Beatrice” remarked Uncle John, taking a quick glance a the back before quickly reverting his eyes back on the road ahead, “I hope nothing is the matter”.
“Nothing Uncle,” the girl replied” it was just that I find everything so beautiful and yet so strange, she solemnly added. soon they were at Ikoyi hotel where a smartly dressed man in uniform directed them to where to park their car.
He gave Uncle John a car on which number forty three was written badly on “what’s that for? asked Tai curiously. “IT’s a ‘tally” Junior said. Ken asked “what’s a tally anyway? Tai asked stubbornly “what I want to know is that why is it only given to Uncle John and not all of us?.
“Well a tally is used to keep account or records of some things,” uncle John explained “any maleval such as plastic, wood, cardboard and so on can be used as a tally as the number is body written on it and the name of the place involved”.
“You mean to say that they keep a record of every vehicle that enters this huge place? Tai asked wide eyed as he looked unbelievable at the numerous number of vehicles of various types and brand packed there.
“Yes” if, on going out, if I fail to produce this tally then I would be prevented from going out with the car unless I can produce a reasonable evidence to show that I was the owner of the car even then I may be charged or pay a token for misplacing the card”.
“Umm” very interesting Tai said “but I belief they have their reasons for doing so?. “Oh yes, to fore-stall car snatchers” Gbade chirped in. “You mean with all these tight securities a thief can still have the gut to come in here? Ken asked incredulously.
“Don’t forget this is Lagos” Junior said “where anything can happen at anytime of the day “will you all now while I notify Mr. Winkle of our arrival” Uncle John asked the children “Please Uncle, I would like to see how the hotel looked like inside” Tai pleaded.
“Yes” Ken asked, “if the outside can look as beautiful and bright as the noon day, I won ……. “Okay”, Uncle John consented” we can all come down but mind you, we won’t get past the lobby”. Tai and Ken said they don’t mind and they all got down and locked the car.
In the lobby, they met another uniformed man at the entrance who opened the door for them and showed them towards another man behind a long glass toped counter behind whom were some states with a row of numbered keys on them, the man greeted them warmly asking I he could help them. Tai was about to ask him to show them around if truly he was willing to help them but Uncle John quickly interrupted him by giving the men Mr. Winkles name and room number.
The men picked up the phone in front of him, dial a number and speak into it then he asked for Uncle John’s name, nodded his head an replaces the receiver still beaming at them he asked them to go to the “Lounge” and wait.
Presently Mr. Winkle emerged with one hand deep in his trouser pocked the other holding a brief case while a porter trailed behind him with his suit case.
Uncle John introduced his niece and nephew to her Winkle who mumbled something the children would not catch Tai and Ken looked at each other mischievously and smiled. they all trooped out to the car and the children scrambled for the back while Mr. Winkle sat with Uncle John in the front.