Whenever I saw the call sign, I'd pipe up, "Hello Bharath, I'm just trying to brush my teeth, could you call back in ten minutes?". "Hello Bharath, the blasted thing still isn't working (but in not so colourful language)". These weren't foreign, heavily accented, annoying call centre automatons so despised by the British public. They were always professional, courteous, extremely knowledgeable and competent. When my LAN worked, but my wireless received no waves, I watched as the Bharath poltergeist took over my laptop from a faraway latitude and longitude.
The service was very good, but there were delays. The delays were caused by two things - 1) I had to get the data off my hard drive before reformatting (some major coaxing using linux) and, 2) the reformatting cds took a circuitous route to get to my place.
So. I am back in full blog mode. April 11 edition of City People (the rag of ill repute, and therefore my rag of choice), with an interview which has incredible quotes about a supposedly great man.
"If he was alive, a lot of people would have turned up. Nobody would have cried. But they cried because they loved him and they also benefitted from him in many ways. He was one person who believed in people and would never despise their guts. He was loved by all and appreciated for his humane gestures."
I hate to inform you that it is none of the millions of benevolent Nigerian names we're all itching to trot out. It is of course, the man responsible for some of Nigeria's literal and figurative darkest days - General Sani Abacha. His wife Maryam is asked about life at 60, and she spews all the goodness of her husband, a man who would "never despise their guts". Frankly, if you feel a need to say that despising someone's guts isn't on your agenda for human relations, then something is not quite right. She goes on to describe him as a loving father, a man who did the dishes while she cooked. Doing the dishes? Seriously, roll out the red carpet!
There is something irresponsible about any newspaper selling Abacha wholesale as a family man. I don't doubt that he gave his kids his thumb to suck, but I'm not so sure what the Saro-Wiwa family will make of this perfectly painted picture. It's almost as if the we're talking about the nation's favourite cuddly tv chef, and nothing more. Balanced pictures of people's lives must include their relationships and interactions, but it shouldn't detract from what brought the person to prominence. In Abacha's case, there are too many, too notorious to mention.
Whoever the journalist is (no byline), he/she was cowed. Which is a shame, because it's people like Maryam Abacha who should be answering hard questions about Nigeria, and not be celebrated as some grand dame of the nation.