Pangolo Junction
Life, arguments, and kunu... with Max, Nat and Zack

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Toxic Gist

(Hello... and I have to commend you on your impeccable timing, as you are just in time to see our three friends at their usual table in the Junction. Max and Nat are hunched close to a fourth person who seems to be barely able to contain his excitement, while Zack looks on at the proceedings with some distaste.)

Nat: So Jonah... what it is you have for us this evening? On your way in, you said there was some hot gist to tell.

Jonah: Yes o... this gist is hot!

Nat (impatiently): Eh, so don't waste our time, now - let the gist flow!

Zack (disdainfully): You guys should be ashamed of yourself. Listening to gossip, like old women.

Max: Nonsense - this is not gossip. It is factual and analytical gist, delivered by one of the most reputable and established spreaders of gist in town (gestures to Jonah). In the West, they have the Internet - in Nigeria, we rely on people like him.

Jonah: Abi o, Max! I tell you, this gist is red hot... smoking hot! It is so hot that it is making my insides vibrate like the engine of an okada doing 160 an hour!

(There is a period of silence as Max and Nat look on at Jonah expectantly.)

Nat (breaking the silence): Well...? Are you going to talk or not? Or has the gist become so hot it has burnt your tongue?

Jonah (smiling): No... I'm just letting the gist simmer in my head for a while to give it more 'flavour'. (Closes his eyes and carries on smiling.)

Zack: More likely, he's thinking of more 'fabu' to add!

Max: I'm warning you... for keeping us on edge like this, this gist had better be worth it!

(Jonah opens one eye, winks at Max and closes his eyes again. Finally, when it appears that their patience has reached breaking point, Jonah snaps both eyes open.)

Jonah: OK, I've had a rethink. Perhaps I shouldn't tell you guys the gist after all.

(There are howls of anger from Max and Nat on hearing this.)

Max: You're a useless man! How can you dangle juicy gist like this in front of us and then yank it just as our jaws are about to close round it?

Zack (smirking): Serves you both right. So Mister Gister, what made you change your mind?

Jonah: I'm sorry, but it just occurred to me that if this gist gets heard by the wrong person, there could be... consequences.

Nat: What sort of consequences?

Jonah (with a knowing look): You know what I mean... consequential kind of consequences.

Zack: Consequences for who? You?

Jonah: Look, the gist is about one prominent person - let's call him Chief X - who is involved in a scandal. If I reveal the gist, I could put the source of the gist in trouble - Chief X will find out who leaked the story and descend heavily on him.

Nat: Eh, don't worry. Your secret is safe with us - we won't tell.

Jonah: Ah - I can't take that chance o. It's not that I don't trust you - but I know how difficult it is to keep hot gist like this inside. Look at me, for example - see how I was burning to share the gist. And if I hadn't reconsidered at the last moment, I would have shared it too!

Zack (annoyed): I don't know what your problem is. Surely if this your Chief X is involved in a scandal, you should be thinking about the greater good - how to expose him, not how to protect your source.

Nat: Zack, I'm surprised at you. Doesn't the violation of trust mean anything to you? How would you feel if you told me something, and I broadcast it to the whole world?

Zack: Nonsense. (Turns to the others.) Tell me, if someone swore you to secrecy then told you that they were going to kill an innocent man, are you telling me that you would stand by and do nothing?

Max: Ah - that is a toxic secret o. I would rather not even be told about that.

Jonah (mockingly): Well, look at you. Were you not the one complaining about me keeping you on edge? You didn't even try and find out whether I was going to deliver toxic gist.

Max: Well, as the deliverer of the gist, it is your duty to tell your audience how radioactive your gist is before we decide whether we want to hear it. We can't read your mind, you know.

Jonah (shrugging): And how do I know what exactly qualifies as radioactive gist? Look at your friends (gestures to Zack and Nat who are still arguing over whether it is right or wrong for Jonah to reveal his information). If they can't decide, how can I?

But it's too late anyway. As far as consequences to yourself are concerned, telling you that I have this radioactive gist is as good as telling you the gist itself.

Max (alarmed): Haba! What are you talking about?

Jonah (smiling): Well, think about it. If the gist were to leak out through some other means, Chief X would start trying to find out who else knows about the gist so that he can silence them. Of course, he would know that I know, and therefore he would know that you know as well. Prominent people in this our society can be very... persuasive... in getting you to reveal information. And I can assure you, this man is very persuasive... with a lot of thugpower at his disposal.

Zack (pausing in his argument with Nat to turn to Jonah): For someone who might be 'persuaded' any moment, you don't sound worried at all.

Jonah (still smiling): Oh, there's nothing really terrible about the whole persuasion process, as long as I play ball and tell him what he wants - the thugpower is just in case I'm stupid enough to be heroic about it all.

Max: But there's no need to tell them the truth - you can just simply say you haven't told anyone his secret.

Jonah (smiling sadly): You see, the problem is that people have already seen me talking with you. They may not know anything of what we've said, but they'll certainly report back to Chief X that we spoke... so it would look bad for me if I didn't reveal this if he questions me.

Max (getting desperate): Eh, can't you say that we were talking about something else?

Nat (grinning): Max, relax - I'm sure that getting beaten up is a not as bad as it sounds. After the first few blows, I'm sure you won't feel a thing.

Max (angrily): Be laughing there. You think you aren't affected? People would have seen Jonah talking not just to me but to you as well!

Nat (suddenly panicky): Eh, yes - we are talking about something else! (In a raised voice, presumably to draw people's attention) Er... oh yes, did you watch that match between Chelsea United and Manchester Villa? Very interesting football match!

(Max and Zack are mortified and hide their faces, while Jonah's voice rings out with laughter.)

Nat (carrying on in the same loud voice, oblivious to Max and Zack's reaction): Yes, very interesting match. Did you see how Manchester Villa were awarded a penalty after they got three corners in a row?

(At this juncture, several people in the bar are sniggering. Zack cannot hide his embarrassment any longer and grabs Nat's shirt.)

Zack (hissing with anger): Will you shut up! You're disgracing all of us here.

Nat: But aren't you worried about the threat of violence?

Zack (still angry): Which threat? Jonah is just having fun at your expense, that's all. (Jonah chuckles as if in confirmation.) How realistic is it that this fictitious person will send his thugs after everyone who might have heard his secret? Not only will he have to send them after every person that that Jonah has spoken to, but he will also have to send them after every person that every person that Jonah has spoken to has spoken to as well.

But the real reason Jonah brought all that up was (turns to Jonah) you don't want to answer my question: why are you hiding information that could expose a criminal? It is this attitude that we have of going 'sofry, sofry' with our leaders that allows them to get away with murder!

Jonah: Come on, my friend. This is gist - it may be true, but it's not court-room standard evidence. Do you seriously believe that you could convict this man on the basis of gist?

Zack: You may not convict him, but revealing the information will help to stir up people to indignation, and this may drive some of them to seek a conviction by looking for evidence.

Nat: That's very unfair. First of all, the gist is unverified. Secondly, it biases the people against the person, so they might even end up fitting whatever evidence they find to match the crime that he is accused of.

Max: I don't care whether the man is guilty or not. What concerns me is that there is gist to be heard and I cannot hear it. Did you actually promise your source not to reveal anything?

Jonah: No... but sometimes, you can tell when it is all right to reveal something or not by judging what will happen if you do reveal.

Max: Can't you just 'leak' the gist? After all, there's no way that prominent person could know that it was your source in particular that revealed the information - anyone could else could have done it. Just drop a few hints... you don't need to name names or places.

Jonah: Well, my source is one of a small circle of people who knows about it. If the story leaks, Chief X will likely use his thugs to beat the truth out of each of the people in this circle until he finds out who divulged the information. But wait - you have an idea there. I guess I could modify the story to protect the 'guilty'.

Nat: I'm beginning to wonder... what was the point of your source giving you this gist if you can't spread it in its true form?

Zack: Yes, I was thinking about that. Perhaps I think your source must have been burdened with the need to share it with someone... and that someone was you. And now you are burdened with the need to share it with someone too. So it looks like his reasons for sharing it were more selfish than you would think.

Nat: In fact, the more I think about it, the less I want to hear it. I don't really fancy having this gist that is burning inside me that I can't share with anyone else.

Zack: And since you know that I want to go public with this, there's no point in sharing it with me. So maybe Max will be willing to be your 'confessor'.

Max: Yeah, don't mind them. Abeg, let's hear the gist - adulterated or not!

(Jonah leans close to Max and begins to whisper into his ear. Max's expression changes from excitement to puzzlement and finally disappointment.)

Max (when Jonah has finished): Is that it? Is that all there is?

Jonah (satisfied): Yeah - what do you think?

Max (shaking his head): Jonah, you're losing your touch. This is old gist - and it's not even true. (Turns to Nat and Zack.) Remember that story that was going round last year about Chief Okorie who was involved in ritual murder? Well, he's changed the names, but essentially, it's the same story.

Nat (mockingly): Jo-nah! All that drama just for this!

(Jonah gives Max an odd look.)

Jonah: Is that what you think the story is about?

Max: Well, yes - isn't it?

Jonah: OK, if that's what you think, don't worry. Anyway, now that I've delivered my gist, I have to go now - I'll see you all soon. (He gets up, turns to look at Max again with an unreadable expression, then walks out.)

Zack: I wonder what all that was about? Why was he talking like that?

Max: I don't know. Basically, he was telling me...

Nat and Zack (together, waving him off): Wait o! Wait!! STOP!!! We don't want to hear your gist - it's toxic! (They both get up and leave before Max can say anything more.)

Max (musing to himself): Well, let's see... did I get the story wrong? Well, he spoke about a prominent chief who sent his men to kill other people... he didn't really mention the word 'ritual', so perhaps I was wrong there. I think he also said that this chief was planning to kill one or two other people as well, especially one who he had recently done a deal with over some electronic spare parts, because the parts were inferior. Hold on o... didn't I recently do a deal involving spare parts? Who was the person I dealt with now... I can't remember his name, I think he must have been fronting for someone. (Thoroughly alarmed now) Supposing I am the one Chief X is after? I must get in touch with Jonah and find out. I hope he hasn't gone far. Jonah! JONAH!! (He gets up and runs out of the Junction shouting.)


  • Ahem. Will Chief X send his thugs after me now that I know?

    By Blogger azuka, At February 24, 2007 9:12 am  

  • lol @ "It is so hot that it is making my insides vibrate like the engine of an okada doing 160 an hour!"

    The moral of the story is...When listening to gist, keep an open mind, and don't jump to conclusion.

    Nice one!

    By Blogger Nilla, At February 24, 2007 5:08 pm  

  • Azuka,

    I don't know what you are talking about. In fact, I don't know who you are, and I have never seen you before in my life, especially because Chief X and his henchmen are watching as I type this.


    I hadn't thought of any moral to this story, but if I had to fix a moral to this, I'd say it would be:

    If you have to listen to toxic gist, ensure you have your own personal retinue of thugs to deal with anyone that the Chief Xs of this world might send after you.

    By Blogger Atala Wala Wala, At February 25, 2007 6:10 am  

  • hehehe...Nice nice...I like I like
    See wat gist can do to someone's life...
    Btw I hope there is part two to this sef I like gist...hehehe

    By Blogger tolted, At March 01, 2007 10:09 am  

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