The news came like a bolt from a stormy Sky. Brother Willy had made his last Sale. But it was not closing Bell time at the exchange, I thought to myself, so it could not be true. But Chris Asoluka assured me it was true. A friendship that began in October 1973 had closed so suddenly in April 2020 in a time when self isolation got in the way of the natural reaction of just jumping in the car and going past a few streets to his home. That should be my response to such news. But alas, I was locked down, locked up and locked in. William Anumudu…Willy…Brother Willy…Pa Willy….Willie Remembers…whatever name we called him, was my classmate, a remarkable friend, a great guy and a jolly good fellow. But he was also the paramount salesman of my generation. To look back is to sulk. It is to laugh. And it is to cry. Oh those years of innocence. How we lit up the sky like a flame of dreams in our determination to remake our world. The bonds grew thicker in 1974 when all the Male Sophomores at the Nsukka Campus of the University of Nigeria had to live off campus in Zik”s Flats where we made enough noise to disturb the rest of our Living Legend neighbour, The Rt Hon. Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Zik of Africa. The main glue was the bus service that ferried hundreds of us back and forth the campus. The stars of jolly rides were clear.
The super star was the lead Bus Driver. Falanges, as we hailed him. The talkative Lagos boys like me kept the bus entertained with gists and at our command Falanges would bump the breaks of the Marcolo Polo Mercedes Benz Coach which would rock around in a motion swing that brought hailing even from the more mild mannered older men who entered the University in1967 but lost years to the Civil War and had less tolerance for the rascally small boys. The Aba boys, as we called the Imo group led by Willy, Lucky and Co played conductor and would chant Patito at my signal to Falanges.
Inspite of us we graduated.