By Sunny Agboju.

I was the smallest boy in my final year in the Secondary School – and the youngest. But I was the most garrulous and playful. I was the most brilliant art student in class, the second most brilliant only after my good friend, Amos Ighorodje, a science student, now a medical doctor.

Whenever a teacher was not in class, I could engage the class all day in teasing, rapping, naming and generally putting jokes on anybody and everybody. I had a good command of English Language, the confidence of a brilliant student, the skills of scholarly erudition, and the ability to manufacture and couch ugly words that best fit people. What was more, I was often paid by opponents to manufacture names and once named by me, such names stuck to the owner like leech – to the admiration of myself and the humbling of the name-owner. What gave me superiority over everyone was my huge capacity to laugh at myself, accept gleefully whatever got thrown at me, dust myself up and move on. I was somewhat a self-made hero!

Then there was Blessing Ighogboja, a classmate who terrorized all our classmates. He was short, stocky and muscular, with a large head and a heavy, bullish voice. His sight alone was petrifying. Everyone steered clear of him and happily (for me) he had a distant respect for me – because what my hands couldn’t do my mouth could more than deliver.

Then on a fateful day, someone paid me to carve a name for Blessing. And I did. Here was my style. I drew a caricature of him on the blackboard and named it “Angulu”! Angulu is the name for vulture in a part of Nigeria, but vulture had nothing to do with this. However, the ugly sound of the word Angulu perfectly matched the caricature on the board – which of course looked very much like Blessing – ugly, menacing, frightful. To nail home the point, all I needed was the final, suggestive question from me: “Guys, who does Angulu look like in this class?”

And that was how the fight started! Blessing, now Angulu, pursued me all around the school, with the whole school erupting in “Angulu! Angulu!! Angulu!!!” Everyone was at our heels, screaming, yelling, clapping, singing, “Angulu!” Eventually he caught up with me and I gave him the fight of his life! Yes! (although everyone present said he gave me the beating of my life). Well, that’s their opinion. I will not here dilate on the details of the fight – gimme some respect, man!!!

Anyhow, two funny ironies happened after the “fight” – I not only became a more popular hero, I even got higher payments to carve more names for more people – perhaps that’s why I’m a Management Consultant today.

Then there was a third irony. As Blessing sat on himself (not me) and rained hard blows on himself (not me), rather than concentrate on the fight, my mind kept flashing to the meaning of the new idiomatic expression our English Teacher taught us that week – “Never bite more than you can chew.”



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