Tag Archives: Dr Braver


IMG_1541To say that Christmas is special is an understatement. The religious aspect of Christmas is unquestionable. But there are many things that make Christmas a unique festival. In the weeks leading to Christmas it always looks as if the ground would cave in under the feet of enthusiastic shoppers.

When it comes to Christmas shopping, I am a last minute shopper. I guess that’s because I am a man. Men typically leave their Christmas shopping to Christmas Eve. There’s something exciting about shopping at the very last minute. Because of time constraints you don’t have time to think long. You just grab whatever you can find but you must grab it before another chap gets hold of it.

Christmas in Africa where I grew up is not the same as in Europe. When I was a child there were no computers, no computer games, no mobile phones, iPads, etc. It was more of friends and families affairs with a great emphasis on the religious meaning of Christmas. Food was in abundance. Oh, I love Christmas in Africa.

Christmas time provides an opportunity for people to sell their animals.









In my place, goat is almost always on the Christmas menu. People would try any means to bring their goats home.









When I was a child I used to wonder what was in the minds of the animals whenever I looked at them on the tether. I wondered if they sensed the risks that Christmas posed to them. They tried in their own way to escape their ordeal, including hiding in unusual places.









But Christmas is a time to show love.









It is also a time for peace and reconciliation.






And a time of hope









Thank you for visiting my site. I hope you have had a good Christmas and I wish you a happy new year. Please continue to visit my site as 2016 will be full of mind blowing blogs.


IMG_1300Watch Your Tongue

I don’t like making or receiving phone calls on public transport. I prefer texting, not so much because of confidentiality, but because sometimes that could be a nuisance to other people. I get irritated when people’s phones ring with some weird ring tones or when the person next to you speaks so loudly that your ear drums are in danger or in a language that you don’t understand. There’s one phone that I cannot ignore. That’s my brother’s. Femi will call you repeatedly until he hears: “Hello!” from the other end.

On this day, I was on the bus home after a busy shift. I heaved a sigh of relief that I found a nice seat where I could just settle quietly and hopefully have a nap. On a good day, it would take an hour to get home. The guy sitting next to me smiled, as I took my seat. He had a gentlemanly look. I smiled back, thinking, Not the type of person who would spend the whole time on the phone! Having made sure that I had set my phone to vibration, I settled down. I was about to dose off when my phone started to vibrate. At first, I ignored it as I always did when on the bus. My eyes blinked several times as the caller’s name appeared: Femi. “Oh no, not now,” I grumbled, as I put the phone back into my pocket. But I knew, of course, that I was joking. Femi would never leave a message on the smartphone. He would try and try until I picked it. So I wasn’t surprised when my phone vibrated again seconds later.

“Hello!” I answered, hoping that the signal would be poor and I could tell him that I would call back when I got home.

“Bawo!” Femi replied, breathing heavily. And that was it. My brother was unstoppable. Thirty years abroad have not robbed him of a good control of the Yoruba language. My sleep disappeared from my eyes as I kept nodding, laughing and replying with encouraging “O ti o!” “Beni!” and “Rara!” I was glad when Femi said, “O dabo,” signalling the end of our dialogue.

Although I did actually enjoy talking to my brother, I felt terrible that I had done something that I really disliked. I turned to the guy sitting next to me, and with guilt conspicuously written on my face, I said, “Sorry about this.”

“Ko si wahala,” he replied with the most amazing smile.

I nearly collapsed. I had not expected a guy of a different colour to understand my language particularly on a bus in a foreign country. “Oh, my God!” I screamed, ignoring the attention of the other passengers. The guy surely heard and understood everything that I discussed with my brother. Imagine what would have happened if I had said something bad about him or discussed things that were somehow implicating.

“Lola,” I said as I stretched out for a handshake.

“Tom,” he replied, still smiling.

Son of an oil engineer, Tom Solomon grew up in Lagos. Talking to Tom in my native language gave me a feeling that I could not describe. It was like talking to my own brother. We subsequently exchanged our contact details and have since formed a strong friendship.

This reminds me of Dr Chucks’s encounter with Pam Boggy, his medical student under Dr Braver. He had not expected to find a girl who could speak pidgin English thousands of miles away. That moment of discovery sent powerful impulses through both of them and formed a good soil for love to blossom.

Both stories had positive outcomes, one resulting in a lasting friendship, and the other in romance. My encounter with Tom could potentially have resulted in embarrassment had I assumed that the guy sitting next to me had no chance of understanding my language. The power of language must not be underestimated. Next time you sit next to someone who apparently looks different, there’s a chance he/she may understand your language. Watch your tongue.

What is it like to have dinner with Dr Braver?

IMG_1204What is it like to have dinner with Dr Braver?

I accepted the invitation to visit the Bravers with mixed feelings. On one hand, I could not imagine that a person who I perceived to hate me so much could invite me for a meal. I thought he was looking for an opportunity to humiliate me. He had done that in the front of patients, nurses, his secretary and medical staff. Now, he needed to ridicule me before his family. My other mind was telling me to give him a chance. Maybe he had a different side to his character. A normal aspect outside of work. Other doctors and nurses had been talking about the Bravers’ party for days. All the people that I mentioned it to indicated they would attend.

I was the last guest to arrive. At first, I was hesitant to join the guests. I stood on the front corridor hoping that someone would pop outside to have a smoke or something or a late arrival would turn up and we could go in together. There was a lot of talking and giggling going on. I could hear the chink of glasses amidst the chatter and laughter. Everyone seemed to be in full gear.

“My African friend!” Dr Braver exclaimed with his usual shallow smile, holding a large half empty bottle of Vodka in one hand.

“Good evening,” I said to Dr Braver and his wife. “Thank you for inviting me.”

“Oh, it’s always a pleasure,” Mrs Braver replied. Mrs Braver stood by her husband, smiling warmly as she welcomed me into the lavishly decorated banquet hall. She wore an Indian Satin with a matching heavy gold necklace. Dr Braver was looking really posh in his navy blue dinner suit, I almost did not recognise him.

We had expected to have Chinese take-away for the Christmas party, as Dr Braver had said earlier, because his wife could not cook! In truth, I could not say for sure if Mrs Braver actually did the cooking or someone else did. To be honest, I cared less who cooked the food and whether it was Chinese take-away or Cantonese sit down to eat. All I knew was that it looked good and there was a lot of it. The three long tables had all sorts of food displayed and this jumbo was capped with a large whole roasted pock that stood strategically in the middle of all the other food. I had never seen so much food displayed, even back home in Africa.

“Ladies and gentlemen. I cannot say, ‘feel at home,’ as you are already at home. The only thing to say, is that no one leaves until all the food is gone,” Dr Braver said, as we took our seats according to our names on the table.

I wanted to quickly eat my food and get out of this place. But that would look uncivilised. Besides, many of the food items on the table were strange to me. I didn’t have any problem with the pork and rice but I couldn’t figure out how to combine the various items.

“Here you go,” Mrs Braver said, as she placed the plate full of rice, roast potatoes, diced carrots, sprouts and the shin of pork in front of me. She must have thought that I needed a tonne of food to support my one hundred and twenty kilograms body. And she seemed to know my weakness. Meat. I could eat a whole cow.

“Thank you, mam,” I said. She didn’t seem to mind me referring to her as “mam,” which made me feel really relaxed.

I was struggling with the bone of the pork when Dr Braver stood up. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “I have no doubt you are all enjoying yourselves. Everybody seems happy. I am glad. When you are happy I am happy.”

We all clapped. Not really because of what he had said but there had been a lot of ethanol in our brains.

“And my African friend, you don’t have to crack your canines. There is enough flesh. Makes me wonder what you give your dogs in Africa,” he said and sipped from his bottle of Vodka.

“Oh, we give them plenty of chocolate,” I replied.

And everyone broke into laughter. Initially some people did not understand the joke but as the meaning became clear the laughter was truly unending.

“That’s a good one,” he said, after sipping again at his Vodka.

After the meal, we all dispersed into small gatherings. Dr Braver had undone his tie. He was no more wearing his jacket. His trouser was partly unbuttoned. He sat down in one of the settees, humming a tune with his pipe at the corner of his mouth and a newly opened bottle of Vodka beside him. Completely pissed off, he responded, “Yes,” to every question his wife asked him.

I got back to my flat just before midnight, feeling like I had swallowed an elephant. And as I lay in bed, massaging my stomach, I could not stop wondering what to make of Dr Braver. One thing was certain, the food was tasty and I had a lot of it.

World Cup: My Thoughts

imageWorld Cup: My Thoughts

The World Cup could quite rightly be regarded as the most popular international sporting activity. Unlike previous tournaments, I watched all the matches featured in the 20th World Cup. Like previous matches, people made predictions as to which teams were likely to play the finals, and most importantly, which team would win the coveted cup.

No one would have predicted that Spain, the then cup holder would be knocked out so soon or Italy and France would not qualify in the group stage. It was unthinkable that Brazil, that one would bet on winning the finals, suffered a humiliating 7-1defeat in the hands of Germany.

As I watched the matches, my thoughts were challenged in many ways. I watched as people danced, laughed and threw themselves on the floor when their teams scored. I also watched people crying, as if they were bereaved, when their teams lost. Of course, there had been incidents in previous matches that had caused anger or controversy. I remembered when England lost to Argentina through a goal that was thought to be scored by Diego Maradona’s hand. This was accepted as a genuine goal although many people believed the legend used his hand, dubbed ‘Hand of God‘ to score the goal.

Whilst the unexpected winners and losers might have surprised me, one thing I could not get out of my head was the incident where a player bit another on the shoulder. I cast my mind back decades ago when I was a kid playing on the village Primary School lawn or on the sandy beach. I could not remember a time when a kid bit another kid during matches. And yet a professional millionaire footballer with international fame allegedly did that in the 2014 World Cup.

I could not help asking myself, “Why is it that human beings have made ‘Winning’ a do or die phenomenon? Is it one of those unwritten natural characteristics of human beings?” I also asked myself, “Why is it that some teams are so good that they always do well and others play so poorly you could bet they would lose?” As I watched the matches, my thoughts took me back through previous tournaments. It was not by political strength, country size, military or economic strength that countries had won. Champions were not made by all these virtues but by the quality of the teams.

Winning is great and, of course, it’s rewarding for the players who have put great efforts into the matches. However, we must not forget that football is a game at the end of the day. What I really mean is that, first and foremost, it is to be enjoyed and there should be no grudge or malicious act. There is nothing wrong with a ‘Win, win’ attitude but winning by any means including malicious attack verbally or physically on fellow players is unprofessional. In my humble opinion, I do not believe that football is worth dying or killing for. Win if you can, but if you lose, at least you have entertained.

Germany and Argentina deservedly played the finals. I enjoyed the match as neither of them was my favourite team which was good as I was able to watch it with an unbiased mind, applauding as appropriate. In truth, either of the teams could have won, but by fate, it was Germany that, in the end, lifted the coveted trophy. Germany was arguably the best team in the tournament and the first European country to win in the American continent.

Winners come, winners go, but human attitude changes little. If there is anything to take home from the World Cup 2014, it will be remembered as one in which the odds were beaten. Brazil suffered a humiliating defeat on its own soil and a player recklessly bit another player. No team has the prerogative of being unbeatable. Who knows? May the next World Cup would be won by an underdog, perhaps one of the African or Asian countries that has never won. We shall see.

Clear your Clutter

imageClear your Clutter

I visited Martin in response to his wife’s telephone call. I had known the family for nearly twenty years. They seemed to be happy and all their children have graduated from the University. When Suzie rang me at 2 A.M I initially hesitated, and advised that I could talk to Martin after work the following day. My heart stopped when she warned with a shaky voice, “He would be gone by then.”
“Gone! What do you mean, ‘gone’?” I asked, thinking that they were going to split up. But would they split a thirty-year marriage? “He’s planned to do it. And I know, for sure, he will do it.” She sobbed.

“Can I have a word with him?” I asked, still thinking it was something to do with their marriage.

“He won’t talk to anyone. He’s been talking about hanging for the past few days. He’s got another letter. He says he can’t cope any more.” She replied, still sobbing.

“O.K. I’ll be on my way. Keep talking to him. Right?”

Martin had locked himself in their study. Suzie reported that he had not eaten or drunk all day. I cautiously knocked at the door and was glad that he had unlocked the door. The study was nothing but a tip with envelopes opened and unopened, papers rumpled and squeezed, littering everywhere. Unlike Dr Braver’s study with elegantly arranged books, papers and magazines, you would think Martin’s study was a public tip. He just kept to himself, refusing to talk. He sat on the floor in the midst of the heaps of papers, with his head in his hands, looking tired and disheveled. I stood at the door, trying to figure out how to deal with the threat to commit suicide. I needed to talk him out of it and find out how I could help. I was a trusted friend of the family. After all, that was why Suzie had called me. To talk to my friend.

“I’m completely fed up.” He finally broke the silence, and after shaking his head, added, “My life is in a mess. Real mess.”

Relieved that he had acknowledged my presence and had opened up, I walked cautiously and sat on the floor beside him. “Can we talk?” I asked, as I gently placed my hand on his shoulder.

Martin told me that he had been battling with financial problems for sometime. He was fed up with letters coming through his door everyday. He didn’t know how things had got that far despite the fact that he was a good man and a hard working person. He looked up briefly, shook his head and buried it again between his thighs. As far as he was concerned, he had tried “everything.” His life was in a mess and there was nothing left.

After an initial reluctance, Martin agreed to listen to me and for us to work together to see how we could solve the problems. I advised him that he must first clear his clutter. He didn’t quite get that. I repeated, “Martin, you must first clear your clutter.” I advised that he could not solve his problems by ignoring them. Problems cannot solve themselves. For a start, he must open all the letters, file whatever needed to be filed and bin anything else. He needed to contact his creditors and negotiate with them. He could not continue to ignore his bills. After a long talk, my friend promised me that he would take positive steps to address his debt problems.

I visited Martin two weeks later. He proudly took me to his study, and with a smile on his face, he said, “Thank you.” Martin had taken the bold step to contact his creditors and had decided to act and never ignore his problems.

Situations like Martin’s are very common. People allow problems to mount due to inactivity and procrastination. I have learnt from experience that problems don’t sole themselves. They need someone to solve them. A big problem breeds smaller ones, and if you provide the fertile ground, they would flourish and overwhelm you. My advice is: You’ve got to clear your clutter and start to take action. Try this and you avoid being in the same state as Martin was.

Bullies Are Wimps

imageBullies are wimps

I recently watched the video of a four-year old boy whose family’s cat rescued from being savaged by a dog. The little boy was riding his bike in front of their house when the unprovoked dog attacked him. The surveillance video showed the dog biting and attempting to drag the boy down the sidewalk. The cat saw the incident on their surveillance video in the living room. Within seconds, the cat leaped out of the house, jumped in front of the dog and chased it away.

The hero cat was not up to a quarter of the dog in size. In fact, based on size alone, the dog could quite easily throw its weight on it and crush it to death. And, of course, it could snap its neck between its powerful jaws. But the monstrous dog was gripped with fear. It couldn’t even bark. Instead, it ran as fast as it could.

One could analyse this event in several plausible ways. Could it be that the dog thought other members of the family were after it? Could it be a sense of guilt and it had to run away to save its face. Perhaps the dog was not as strong as it looked. I concur with the last plausible explanation as I believe the dog simply behaved in a typical way.

Typical way? Yes, I say, “Typical way.” This is typical of bullies. They shout and create fear. Look at gang leaders, for example. They often don’t carry weapons but are surrounded by tougher gang members. He controls them by shouting and intimidating them even though they are stronger than him.

The truth is, BULLIES ARE WIMPS. He may be larger than a mountain gorilla. That doesn’t mean he is strong. After all, the adder may be small but no one dares to step on its tail. The needle may be small but it’s not for the cock to swallow. Dr Chuks should have realised this the first time he met Dr Braver. See what happened when Dr Braver’s son had acute appendicitis and they suggested to him that Dr Bigfellow should do Oliver’s appendicectomy. He melted like a scoop of ice cream in the Sahara Desert. “Oh no. Not him,” Dr Braver replied, like a little child who has met his phobia. “My God. Look at those big hands! Those hands are too big to perform an appendicectomy on a tiny creature like Oliver. Gosh! He will slash him from chin to shin.”

There are bullies everywhere. And there are life situations that act as bullies as well. You may have a boss who is so intimidating that you can’t even find the courage to ask for a pay rise. May be you have been diagnosed with cancer or other serious medical conditions. Or you have a phobia that is robbing you of your quality of life. Don’t allow bullies to put you down. Stand up to them and you will discover the truth – they are not as tough as they look. They are wimps!

If you want to read more about the life of a wimp, CLICK

I Can’t Pronounce This

imageI Can’t Pronounce This

I don’t like visiting doctors. Not that I don’t like the medical profession. Of course, my own doctor is excellent in every way. She is caring and trustworthy. But maybe it’s just because I am a man. Men don’t like to complain about their health and so tend to delay going to see their doctors. Women, on the other hand, generally seek help early.

As expected, the waiting room was packed full with women and elderly people. I quietly went in, avoiding any eye contact and settled in one of the chairs at the far end of the room, hoping that I wouldn’t have to stay long before they called me in for my health check.

As I sat down, one nurse came to the door with a piece of paper in her hand. She looked at the paper and murmured something. All the people in the room turned their faces to my side. I didn’t know what to make of it. I felt uncomfortable, and almost asked the receptionist if there was something that I was supposed to do that I hadn’t done. I brought out my phone and started playing one of my favourite games. I just needed something to take my attention.

The nurse appeared again through the door. After clearing her throat, she scratched her head and murmured something again. This time I thought I heard, “Mr O … I can’t pronounce this.” She went back in as the people in the waiting room turned their faces to my side. Then the old woman who sat next to me, asked, “Is that you?” Not knowing what she meant, I replied, “Sorry?”

“Oh, I thought the nurse was calling you.” The old woman said.

“I didn’t hear her call my name.”

“I think she is finding it difficult to call your name.

I didn’t want to be rude to this woman. But I couldn’t help asking her, “How did you know that she can’t pronounce my name?”

“We don’t hear many names like that here.” She replied.

“Oh, I see.” I said.

Just then, the nurse appeared at the door, and after looking at the piece of paper in her hand, walked towards me. I pretended to be busy playing my game and avoided her eye contact.

“Mr, em, I can’t pronounce your name. You’re next.” She said, as she tapped my shoulder.

I looked up. Of course, my name is not “Mr I can’t pronounce your name.” Trying not to be rude to the nurse or create a scene, I politely informed her, “The name is Olusegun Popoola. All the alphabets are English, my dear.”

“Oh!” She said, but she never tried to master the pronunciation of my name.

As I followed this nurse into her room for my health check, I wondered how Dr Chukwuemeka Azuibike would have felt when Dr Braver asked him what his name meant in English.

If you want to make someone welcomed, call his name and if you can say a word or two in their language, the better. Try this and your client will not feel alienated.

If you want to befriend a people, learn to speak their language, call them by their names, respect their beliefs and values, understand and respect their differences and they will in return bestow their trust on you.

imageStick out your neck

The tortoise can quite rightly be described as an ugly animal. But there are many things about it that I admire. With a lifespan of 150-200 years, it is one of the longest living vertebrae, and certainly lives longer than humans. It is cunning, shrewd and a bit like Dr Braver.

There are so many African tales about the tortoise. One of the tales is about why the tortoise has no hair on its head. It is said, one day, the tortoise visited his in-laws. His mother in-law prepared a delicious meal consisting of yam pottage. The tortoise enjoyed the meal but instead of asking his in-law to give him some of it to take home, he decided to pilfer. He and his wife had got ready to leave but he told her he needed to use the loo before setting off. Whilst they were all waiting for him in front of the house, he sneaked to the kitchen, filled his hat with the hot pottage and put his pottage-filled hat back on his head. He returned to join his family and they set off on their return journey. As they were going, he could not bear the pain on his head. He had to confess to his wife what he had done. He took off his hat but it was too late, as the heat from the hot pottage had badly burnt his scalp leaving no single hair on his head. Since that day, the tortoise has remained bald.

What I really like about the tortoise is that it has to stick out its neck in order to move. Whenever I watch this reptile as it goes about its daily needs, it makes me aware of our life as humans. Life throws so many obstacles and challenges at us. The tortoise sometimes hides within its shell for protection. Like the tortoise, there are times when we have to retreat to do some thinking. We may even sometimes hide away from danger.

There will be times in your life when you will have to stick your neck out. There will be challenges but instead of hiding in a shell, you have to go and face them. Stand up to your challenges. That was exactly what Dr Chuks did to survive the almighty Dr Braver.



Dr Braver stood up and faced his wife. And pointing his fingers at her face, he roared, “Don’t you ever call me mad, stupid woman!” Mrs Braver stepped backward and shouted venomously, “You know what you are? An idiot. That’s what you are, Dr workaholic.” “There’s nothing wrong with being a good doctor. I do my job dedicatedly, caring for my patients. And if that in your dictionary is ‘workaholic‘ that’s your problem.” “Maybe it’s my problem but other dedicated doctors have time for their family.” “Of course, I have time for my family. What d’you mean I don’t have time for my family?” “Nonsense! Nonsense upon nonsense,” Jezzie snapped as she stepped forward, her face almost touching her husband’s. Dr Braver lowered his voice and reassured Mrs Braver, “You know I care about you lot. I care so much,” he said, as he gently touched his wife’s shoulder. Mrs Braver stepped backwards and turned her face away as she said, “If you care about your family then you would not ignore the message I left that your son has been taken ill.” Dr Braver shouted almost ripping his vocal cords. “No. That can’t be true. I had no such message. You know I will never ignore your call.” “No I don’t. At least not when you are at work.” “Don’t be ridiculous, Jezzie. I may be dedicated to my job. Or perhaps eccentric at times. But that does not mean that I don’t care about my family.” “Don’t tell me you care about the family,” Jezzie snapped, “Of course you don’t.” Then the couple stared accusingly at each other in an uncomfortable tranquility. The argument had been going on for over twenty minutes. Unknown to them, Oliver had sneaked out of the living room in search of peace. Of course, he was used to this kind of argument. When his parents had an argument, neither of them would pipe low for the other. He sat on the floor of his room and Lionheart lay down sympathetically beside him. BUY FROM AMAZON


dbfrontThe Dog And Its Master

 Dr Braver pulled into his drive as the large gate flung open. He whistled sonorously as the gate slowly closed behind him. It was already dark.

“Darling I’m home,” he announced, as he slammed the door of his black Buick.

Jezzie turned her back on the window, ignoring her husband. Dr Braver tiptoed towards the window and tapped gently. Jezzie turned momentarily and simply nodded as she carried on with her telephone conversation.

Lionheart pushed itself through the ajar kitchen door and wagged its tail enthusiastically as Dr Braver stroked the well groomed back of the 6-stone boxer dog passionately. At that moment, the dog and its master seemed to be in their own world, completely detached from everyone. Dr Braver knelt down and gazed affectionately into the sparkling eyes of his companion and muttered sarcastically, “At least someone knows that I am someone.”

A few minutes later, the moment began to fade between the two outcasts. Dr Braver, now allowed his gaze to fall through the window.  His wife, still on the phone, was gesticulating madly but Dr Braver couldn’t tell from these actions how far the conversation had progressed. The barrier between husband and wife resulted in an unnatural silence on both sides.

Jezzie glanced out of the window, seemingly bored of the phone conversation, looking for an escape route. However, the couple’s eyes met unexpectedly and were locked in a cold embrace where each saw deep into each other’s soul.

Suddenly, Jezzie rolled her eyeballs through the slits between the thick layers of the variegated eye shadow. And with a swift flick of her hair, her head was turned away from the window again.

Dr Braver knew that trouble was waiting for him inside.

Nonchalantly, he strolled through the now fully open front door and closed it gently behind him. At that moment Jezzie said, as she hung up the phone, “l’ll talk to you later.”

Jezzie replaced the phone and braced herself up as she stood facing her husband. Her eyes were now almost tearing her eyelids apart with lancinating ferocity. Husband and wife were now watching each other, like tiger and lion, both capable of inflicting terrible wounds on each other and yet, neither would challenge the other.