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Old Men Lie Too!

Chief was coming to visit. It had been a long overdue visit. We made preparations for the day. We made sure that there was enough victuals in the house. Chief was supposed to have been the main sponsor of our wedding, but he ducked out of it by claiming that he had to travel to his country home for some obsequies. He could be excused on that basis. He never called to ask how the wedding went. Well, age, has a way of announcing its arrival. Again we could excuse him for that. Perhaps he was still mourning or grieving the departure of a loved or unloved one. That particular summer of the wedding, chief missed his annual pilgrimage to the UK, he chose to go to the United States instead.

I once remember when chief had to look me in the eyeball and lie to me. We were marketing some fuel conservation products from California. The first batch of the products had been sold off. Chief’s son and myself were in charge of selling the products. Since chief was not making a lot of money from the products, he could not be bothered so much about the products. The business was worth about twenty thousand dollars and to chief, that perhaps wasn’t enticing enough. But to us young folks, that meant a lot. We had a lot of buyers waiting for the product to arrive. The products could only be ordered by chief. His son was preparing to emigrate from Zanzibar and chief did not want to waste his energy on a venture that would end soon.

Being starved of funds and badly in need of a job and a source of income, we needed to push chief to place the orders. The son had told me that, the best person to put pressure on the father to make him place the order was me. So an appointment was booked. It was a late morning appointment. I sat in front of chief and chief wore a traditional Lesotho garb. He was tapping a pen on the table.

“Chief as you can see, we have sold off the first consignment of the products” I started off, staring at him.

“Yes that is very good” he stuttered.

“Our customers are waiting for the next consignment and your son has asked me to confirm from you when the next consignment is arriving” I continued.

“Yes, Odi has told me.” Chief replied.

“When exactly do we expect the goods to arrive” I tried to pin him down to a date.

He tapped the pen a bit more on the desk and looked at me in the eyeball and said “in the next three days.”

“Chief, that’s excellent”, I said.

“Anything else I can help you with,” he asked.

“No sir.”

“Then have a good morning. Please leave the door open when you pop out. Thanks”.

I walked out of his office and couldn’t believe what I had just heard. The son and I laughed our heads off. So old men can lie like this.

“Odi, that your friend almost squeezed me by the balls” he told his son. “He wouldn’t give me a breathing space” he went on. “He wanted to know when the goods are arriving as if he has paid a dime towards the importation of the goods” he stammered.

“That is Owens for you dad. He is a business minded person.”

That was what was on my mind when I heard he had detoured to America instead of UK on his annual pilgrimage season.

This was the year before. This particular year, he was in London. My wife would get a chance to meet chief. Chief would get a chance to see the new baby, Mekobong and according to the custom of our place, chief would have to make his presence felt.

I drove from Croydon to Kilburn to go and pick chief up to my place. We drove through the crazy traffic of London, I fuelled the car and turned on the air to make chief comfortable. Chief arrived my home. He ate real delicious pepper soup and nice food. He kept talking about how lovely the food was, apart from the pepper soup being so spicy for him. He could hardly keep his mouth shut because the heat of the pepper was too much. He kept inhaling air through his mouth and was perspiring on his forehead. Chief made a dash for the toilet and spent a considerable amount of time in there. I kept hearing the sound of the toilet being flushed.  I tapped on the toilet door gently “are you alright chief?”

“Yes I am. I will be out soon”.

Chief gave my son ten pounds. Only ten pounds!

“Chief, chief, chief! That was the song in this house. Is this what chief can do? A ten pounds from chief. Even me,  I can do better than that” my wife barraged at me.

“I know, I know! Chief, changed his surname two years ago. He is now Mr. Tightfisted”, I declared.

Chief requested me to drive him to Whitgift Centre where he wanted to do some bit of shopping.

Once inside Marks and Spencer, I picked up items for myself, wife and baby. As   chief offloaded his shopping at the till to be checked out, I offloaded  mine as well.

“All together?” the lady asked.

“Yes please” I replied.

Chief looked at me and hollered “Owens, Owens”.

I knew I had gotten him this time around – jackets, shoes, skirts and babies stuff. It must have totalled about three hundred quid. First he lied to me that the goods were on its way, then he changed plans from coming to UK and went to US to avoid seeing me and living up to expectations as the original sponsor of my wedding and then finally comes to visit my boy, and hands out a paltry ten pound note. All the preparations and drive to go get him and drop him off was way beyond ten pounds. Here was a chance for chief to redeem his reputation and he chose not to. Well, I had to help him redeem it forcefully.

Inside the car, driving back to Kilburn, about a two hours’ drive from Croydon.

“Owens Owens”, I heard chief say again. I knew that he was reflecting over the £300 worth of goods I had coerced him to pay for.

Uwem Mbot Umana©2017

 

The link for the quiz is below:

http://enrichyourmind.co.uk/eforms/5/

7 Comments

  1. This life is full of disappointments and you get it from the people you least expect. This was the case between Owens and Chief. Their relationship was one lie after the other. Chief missing his wedding for a family crisis, changing destination to avoid Owens, lying about the arrival of the company’s products and handing out £10 to Owens’ kid (equivalent to N5,000). For someone who had missed every event for different reasons, he could have done better. What an insult!

    Finally, Owens got the chance to let Chief redeem himself by making him pay for the things we picked out for his family which cost about £300 but to his greatest surprise, it led to a conversation that we didn’t get to know about.

    As simple as this story looks, we can all relate to it. We are all humans and bound to make mistakes. But as the saying goes, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. We should find the positive out of every disappointments in life, having it at the back of our minds that someone is bound to fail you and you’d be shocked to realize who that person is. The way we handle human disappointments would determine the nature of our relationships and it would help us look at life from different perspectives.

    I really wish the writer told us what happened afterwards, I would have loved to know where the conversation would have led to.

  2. Old Men Lie Too by Uwem Mbot Umana is a very interesting fictional comedy. It is a very interesting and humorous read. I love this story for it’s entertainment, it’s simplicity and it’s clear portrayal of a very frequent occurrence in our daily life.
    We are brought into the story as Mr. Owen, the narrator of the story, makes preparation for the coming of ” chief “. Chief is an important personality and preparations are being made for his arrival in Owen’s home to see Owen’s baby. Chief was supposed to have been the main sponsor of Owen’s wedding ceremony but he had ” excused ” himself of the responsibility. Chief had claimed that he had to travel to his home country for some funeral rites thereby eschewing his duty. Also, during the summer after the wedding, Chief had shunned his usual trip to UK and had gone to the United States rather all in a bid to avoid Mr. Owen and his family. At that time, Mr. Owen recalls another instant when chief had lied blatantly to him. Owen and chief’s son had been selling fuel conserving products – a business worth about twenty thousand dollars, the business had probably not been very attractive-looking to Chief himself but it was worthwhile to young Owen and Chief’s son. Customers were available and waiting but the products were unavailable, they had to be ordered by chief and chief was not ” playing ball “. Owen booked an appointment to see chief in order to question him about the ordering of the products. When chief was confronted, he lied outrageously to Owen just to get Owen off his neck. Owen and chief’s son had been surprised at how chief had lied. ” So old men can lie like this ” he had asked. This had happened about a year ago.
    The preparations for chief’s arrival are set and Owen goes to bring him to the house. It is the first time Owen’s wife will be meeting Chief, pepper soup has been prepared for him. Chief arrives and is treated to the warm hospitality of the Owens. After eating, talking a lot and spending a lot of time in the rest room, all chief gives Owen’s baby, Mekobong, is ten pounds.
    This is sacrilegious! How can a man of Chief’s calibre and wealth, the person who was supposed to have sponsored the wedding and had dodged give only ten pounds upon visiting the couple’s child. Owen and his wife are disappointed. The ten pounds doesn’t even cover the amount that was spent in preparation for chief’s coming.
    Chief is set to leave but first he needs to stop at a shopping centre. Owen drives him there. Fate has dropped a juicy opportunity into Owen’s hands and Owen does not waste it. He remembers all the times Chief danced away from his responsibility, he remembers the meagre amount Chief had just given to Mekobong. Owen shows Chief that he too can be smart. He forces something out of Chief’s tight fist.
    Old Men Lie Too is an interesting piece. We meet Owen, a newly married business man who is faced with the tightfisted hands of Chief. Chief is a wealthy spendthrift who doesn’t live up to the expectation of a man of his social and financial standing. Chief seems to be more interested in garnering more and more money than in spending it on his responsibilities.
    Well, I love this story because it is funny, entertaining and it also brings to light some important issues. Lessons are in the story, all you need to do is find them. First, I’d like to say that this story reminds me of a personal experience. I had just excelled in an important examination, I have an uncle who is very wealthy and is a titled chief in our society. This uncle of mine had promised to visit me to celebrate my success. On the day he was to visit, I bought a very costly wine of about three thousand naira in preparation for his arrival. I had been taught to prepare well for visitors especially highly placed ones. When my uncle arrived, I served him the wine which he drank gladly. He congratulated me on my success, we discussed a bit and then he left giving me only one hundred naira. I was very bitter and pained, I had been expecting MORE from him. I had given MORE to him.
    This story shows us that no matter how much we claim that every one is equal, we ourselves do not believe it. We scream and cry about equality yet we do not show it in our personal lives. Equality only exists in books and supposedly before the law. In reality, no one shows equality. The rich and the poor are always given different treatments in society, same with the influential men and the ” common ” men. I’m sure that if it had been a normal farmer visiting Mr. Owen, he wouldn’t have spent as much as he did preparing for Chief’s visit.
    This story clearly emphasized this phrase ” to whom much is given, much is expected “. Chief is a rich and titled man. Owen will naturally expect much from him. In life, the higher you climb, the more your responsibilities. The higher the position you assume, the more people expect from you. We must be able to live up to our position. Our life, character and work should show that we deserve our position.
    Clearly, this story tries to tell it’s readers to avoid dishonesty at all cost especially as a leader or public figure. Dishonesty is outright bad. When we are not honest at all times, our reputation may be tarnished. It also warns us against stinginess. It is good to be judicious and wise in your finances but it is not good to be stingy or cruel. We should learn to give to people who look up to us .
    This story also teaches us about having too much hope in man. Most times, the people we expect so much from usually disappoint us. Man is infallible. He is prone to mistakes and may disappoint you. You can never tell. Never put so much hope in a man. When you finally see ” your gods “, they may not be as good as you thought.
    I believe that the author’s purpose for writing this story is to improve us mentally, socially and character-wise and also to entertain us.
    This story is set mainly in London. The characters are well developed and act in very believable ways. The plot is fairly well structured but I must say that the flow of the story is not smooth. The story doesn’t have this clear and fluid flow. At some points, the reader may get slightly confused. The way the author uses his words is not very appealing. This does not mean that the story is not good, it is very good. The story is not suspenseful at all but has a funny twist at the end.
    The themes of the story include dishonesty and expectations. The story, off course, has lessons. The author makes use of imagery and literary devices in the story.
    In conclusion, I must say that the story is a funny, entertaining and educating literary fiction. It is a good piece and I recommend to readers of all timbres and caliber.

  3. “Old Men Lie Too!” By Uwem Umana is an interesting story with a theme centered around the theme of Disappointment. As other beloved stories by Uwem, they are fictions but they are real too.
    This is a story that represents what we will encounter as we go on in life. This story reminds me of another story by Umana: “And from that day”. In both stories, We see unconventional ways been used to deal with tough characters like Chief and Ali.

    Mr. Owen tells us the story of his experience with Chief a character that represents the rich and wealthy in the society or anyone in a position of leadership and influence and the disappointments he experiences in his dealings with chief.

    The setting of the story is in the present modern day United Kingdom. We see a home setting as well as an office setting. The feeling is that of family and friends, creating a casual setting.

    One good purpose the writer achieves in this story is to help the young reader understand that we will to meet with disappointments even from people we look up to.
    It is also noteworthy that our action leaves an impression on people. If people look up to us, we must try not to disappoint them. We must live up to expectations. We must not disappoint. We must always let our presence be felt in a positive way.

    This story “Old Men Lie too” opens up from the very beginning, in the very first paragraph, with an introduction of the character of Chief. Chief is a major character in this story. He is a poster human for bad behaviour. His character is also the major problem in the story. We are are taken from the introduction of the character and problem to its build up and the attempt to resolve the problem.
    Chief is a negative character. he is in the center of all that happens in this story.

    In paragraph one the writer said: “Chief was coming to visit. It had been a long overdue visit……..Chief was supposed to have been the main sponsor of our wedding, but he ducked out of it……..He never called to ask how the wedding went”.
    In paragraph two, we see chief’s selfish nature; “Since chief was not making a lot of money from the products, he could not be bothered so much about the products. The business was worth about twenty thousand dollars and to chief, that perhaps wasn’t enticing enough.” Once it didn’t favor him, he wasn’t interested.
    In paragraph three, we see another negative trait in this character- Dishonesty. He lies easily which leaves one shocked and disappointment. “I walked out of his office and couldn’t believe what I had just heard. The son and I laughed our heads off. So old men can lie like this.” What a shame for an old man to have this kind of negative impression on young people.
    Chief is insensitive and mean. From Mr. Owens narration, Chief is like a father to Mr. Owens. It is obvious that Mr. Owens looks up to chief and hopes to benefit from the relationship (especially) financially. So how can Chief make such statement about Mr. Owen:  “He wanted to know when the goods are arriving as if he has paid a dime towards the importation of the goods” he stammered.

    Chief is obviously held in high esteem especially by the Owens. But Chief’s selfish nature blinds him to this fact. He is even blind to the sacrifices the people who love hime make. The Owens went out of their way, sparing no expense, to honor Chief’s visit. In paragraph one, this is seen: “We made preparations for the day. We made sure that there was enough victuals in the house….I drove from Croydon to Kilburn to go and pick chief up to my place. We drove through the crazy traffic of London, I fueled the car and turned on the air to make chief comfortable”.
    They really looked forward to chief’s visit with high hopes: “My wife would get a chance to meet chief. Chief would get a chance to see the new baby, Mekobong and according to the custom of our place, chief would have to make his presence felt”.
    Chief is very stingy. “Chief gave my son ten pounds. Only ten pounds!………A ten pounds from chief. Even me,  I can do better than that” my wife barraged at me”. What a shame.
    Chief just goes on disappointing and humiliating himself: “First he lied to me that the goods were on its way, then he changed plans from coming to UK and went to US to avoid seeing me and living up to expectations as the original sponsor of my wedding and then finally comes to visit my boy, and hands out a paltry ten pound note. All the preparations and drive to go get him and drop him off was way beyond ten pounds. Here was a chance for chief to redeem his reputation and he chose not to.”
    Chief remains unrepentant and shameless “Owens Owens”, I heard chief say again. I knew that he was reflecting over the £300 worth of goods I had coerced him to pay for. What a character!

    Climax is builds up and gets to its peak in the shopping mall: “Chief looked at me and hollered “Owens, Owens”.
    The reader at this point would wonder what happens next. Will Chief display his shameless, stingy, insensitive nature or will he shamefully and grudgingly pay? Well, the reader must read on to find out what happens next. This is a good writing style.
    We are not left hanging as we read on because climax is so beautiful resolved with the element of humor.

    The element of humor is used in the story earlier when Mr. Owens responded to his wife’s disappointment: “I know, I know! Chief, changed his surname two years ago. He is now Mr. Tightfisted”, I declared.”
    We also see humor in the conversation between Odii and Mr. Owens: The son and I laughed our heads off. So old men can lie like this”.

    The Theme of Disappointment, Insensitivity, Dishonesty and Self centeredness emerges around this character.

    The character of Mr. Owens is the opposite of chief. And from the character of Mr. Owen comes the theme of Selflessness, Forgiveness, Second chance, and ultimately the theme of “Paying folks back in their own coin”: I knew I had gotten him this time around…..Here was a chance for chief to redeem his reputation and he chose not to. Well, I had to help him redeem it forcefully”.
    The theme of Over Expectation is highlighted between the Owens and Chief. We should not expect so much from people. We may get disappointed.

    Figures of speech were also used by the writer.
    Euphemism: Odi, that your friend almost squeezed me by the balls” he told his son. “He wouldn’t give me a breathing space” he went on. “He wanted to know when the goods are arriving as if he has paid a dime towards the importation of the goods” he stammered
    Personification: “age, has a way of announcing its arrival”

    In conclusion, I recommend this story to everyone both young and old as it will usher them to the world of reality.
    Thank you

  4. *Old Men Lie Too!*

    This week’s story talks about the semi-amiable (and often hilarious) relationship between Chief (aka Mr Tightfisted) and Owens and the never ending lies that the former tells the latter.

    There is a certain honour, regard and respect that the older generation are held in. They are the predecessors of the youth, the owners of tales and experiences that both lead one to either shed a tear on their behalf or to forewarn the young of the potential potholes that await them in the future. They are considered wise, mature people of integrity as they have seen it all.

    Unfortunately for us readers, Chief is not worthy to be bestowed with any of the aforementioned glowing attributes whatsoever ; he has proven himself to be an artful dodger, playing a game of cat and mouse with Owens with a tight purse string and an unrelenting desire not to spend his money on anybody but himself. It is one thing to be stingy to your subordinates or your co-workers but to extend such a negative vice to a child is shameful and appalling to a man of his stature, giving Owens son a mere ten pounds. Ten pounds for being picked up, driven through traffic, and made comfortable by use of a car’s air conditioner, not to mention Owens stopping to buy fuel from his own pocket.

    If you thought Chief’s vices stopped at being stingy, well you’re in for a rude shock as that is but a secondary vice compared to what he does best: lying. As Chief is an elderly man, he must have gotten better at the art of lying because the quality of his lies are top notch to be honest. How else can you explain a man (and a much senior one at that) being able to look at his fellow man and lie to his face without flinching?

    His son Odi is evidently tired of his father’s nefarious ways as he tells Owens that the best person to get their consignment of goods would be Owen’s himself. He obviously wants nothing to do with him and his vile ways. For a son to have such a  negative, discordial relationship with his own father speaks volumes of the type of man Chief is.

    Chief thrives on eating from everyone’s plate without spending a dime even though he can afford to throw a banquet for himself and a hundred more. He preys on the hospitality shown him by Owens and exploits it, much to the fury of Owens’ wife.
    After giving Owens’ son ten pounds, he must have felt like a cunning man who has outwitted his daft opponent. However there goes a saying thus : Everyday for the thief, one day for the owner.

    As we see as the story climaxes, Chief is taken  by Owens to the Whitgift Centre to shop at Marks and Spencer. Owens, seeing Chief shopping, seizes the opportunity fate had provided him and proceeded to shop as well but offloaded all he wanted to buy along with Chief’s to ensure Chief pays for it all. Chief had be out-chiefed.
    The pain hidden behind the tone Chief used to call Owens in the car at the end of the story is obvious and this story is a good reminder that what goes around, indeed comes around.

    Have a lovely day everyone!

  5. Old men lie too by Umem Umana. A fiction that tell us the experience of a young enthusiastic young man named Owen with a Chief, who was much older. Uwem Umana who falls in the category of both worlds (Owen, a young man and Chief who is much older) beautifully portrayed how the older generation suppresses the efforts upcoming entrepreneurs.

    Old men lie too, is about a young married man who lives in London, Owen, who tactfully managed his relationship with Chief, a cunning old man who over promises and underdelivers, without losing his cool.
    The story took place in London and perhaps somewhere is Zanzibar.

    In the story, Owen was the protagonist who was courteous, energetic, ambitious and a never say die kind of guy. His role in the story types the adage that says that the patient dog eats the fattest bone. But this time, Owen wasn’t only wasn’t only patient, he was smart. Owen appeared to be very weak and stupid at the beginning of the story because in spite of Chief’s actions he still stuck with him. But Owen’s action at the mall amazed me and shows that he wasnt a fool at all.

    Meanwhile, Chief was the antagonist in the story who’s action throughout the story was to ensure that he discourages Owen in his endeavours. But, he underestimated Owen by thinking that he could always take the young man for a ride, not knowing that his visit to Owen’s home was his Waterloo. Owen’s action at the mall left him completely speechless.

    Owen’s wife, a secondary character in the story played a very vital role by showing her disappointment when Chief handed their baby ten pounds. She pestered her husband with questions about Chief’s personality and action that I think it’s what provoked Owen to almost milk the Chief dry at the mall.

    Taking a closer look, we can see the theme of “Believe” Owen at every disappointment from Chief give him a benefit of doubt, “well, age had a way of announcing its arrival. Even though Chief lies to him and backs off at the last minutes Owen was never discouraged but kept believing that someday something good will come out of his relationship with Chief.

    Furthermore, there is a theme of disappointment: Owen lamented on how they prepared so much for Chief’s visit. He fueled his car and drove from Croydon to Kilburn, picked Chief up and turned on the air to make him comfortable. He also served him nice food and all they got from him was “Only ten pounds” ” Even me, I can do better” says his wife.

    Finally, we can also see the Theme of opportunity:
    ” Chief requested me to drive him to Whitgift Centre where he wanted to do some bit of shoping” Owen grabbed this opportunity without any hesitation.
    He listed all the disappointments and said ” …here was a chance for Chief to redeem his reputation and he chose not to, well, I had to help him redeem it forcefully”.

    The whole story reflects a Situational irony, Owen’s displayed a character traits that contradicts his action at the later part of the story.

    Personification ” Age has a way of announcing its arrival.”

    Metaphor: “He ducked out”

    Metaphor: Being starved of funds

    Hyperbole: “Your friend almost squeezed me by the balls..”

    Hyperbole: He couldn’t give me a breathing space .

    We can also see an Irony where Chief who according to the their tradition was expected to make his presence felt when he came to visit the baby Mekobong failed by handing the child only ten pounds.

    Metaphor. “…he is now Mr. Tightfisted.”

    The story is a vivid picture of what most young people go through the hands of older wealthier folks. I enjoyed the story especially the ending part. And, would recommend it to anyone who wished to relax and unwind.

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