I make my way to my seat in the rather congested Embraer, hoping there is no one sitting next to me, and there is enough room in the hat rack, and that they have one more flight attendant on board, the one at the gate was anything but a welcome sight. However, there is no other attendant on board, the hat racks around my seat are all taken, and there is a young 10 or so year old boy sitting next to me. I move around a bit to stuff my back pack in one of the vacant hat racks, and make my way to my seat, as usual, I prefer reading Kafka to talking to the boy, who is rather intrigued by me. They make the usual announcements, the boring attendant holds the safety belt, shows the worn out laminated exit guide et al card around, and wears a safety jacket as well.
The boy looks outside every now and then, glimpses over to see parts of the metamorphosis, reads a bit, and then looks elsewhere knowing this may not be congruent to his taste. A slight jerk and the air craft starts to taxi, and does that for the next one hour, before it actually takes off.
Once in the air, the boy sort of comes alive. I knew that because I felt a tap on my arm, I look around and the boy is looking at me, as I remove the headphones, he shoots out a question for me, what’s your name? Sohail, that’s a nice name, thank you, what’s yours, Shakeem, he says. He was expecting me to complement his name, I preferred to stay numb.
So typical of African Americans, judging from the corn row on his head, I was not surprised at all. So what are you going to be when you grow up; I was expecting him to say P Diddy, or Shaggy, or some little known stand up comedian’s name, he however, had his future planned out in a rather different manner. Me, I am going to be the President of the United States of America, is that right, I replied. Ahan, and I’m also going to be the head of the treasury, the FBI, the CIA, and General Motors! Really, how are you going to handle all those jobs, no one else has been able to do that before, they have teams handling each one of those jobs, you sure you can do this on your own? I am, no one else has been able to do it, cause no black person has ever taken any of these roles, we can do things you see, I see, I said. So tell me Shaheen, Shakeem, he corrects me, my apologies, Shakeem, I can understand President, Treasury, FBI, CIA but why General Motors? Why not? he says. Well, all the others have one thing in common, they are legislatively related administrative posts, this is a commercial entity, I knew I was using terms that might be beyond his age just a little bit, one of the intentions was for him to get out of my hair, I was done with my share of intrigue and wanted to get back to my reading. Okay, here is the thing, I plan to change we do things in America, I am done with state administrative and commercial entities being completely separate; I close the book and put it in the pocket in front of me, he has my attention. You are, so what are you going to do about it, are you critiquing the capital market theory, I try to throw out lingo I am hoping is beyond his turf again, I’m not critiquing capital market theories, the best run countries in the world are the ones that have brought justified regulations by the state administration into the commercial entities, so much so as to control prices of commodities! Okay, this is no P Diddy, this kid is a Keynes in the making…what transpired was a foray of naïve at times intelligent conversation, the kid was obviously impressed with his new President, and listened to much conversation between his father and his friends and had adopted to the ideas of his father, whats most intriguing is the way one man can change the fate of an entire race, he actually believes that he can run all those offices and that he can change the face of the planet, but then, I recall, at his age, I was going to be a mad scientist, Batman, an engineer, an architect, a statesman, and Prince Charming too, funny how the parallels have regressed!