Mrs Wachsmuth was more dedicated to her piano lessons, probably because she had more time than her husband. I even wondered how Mr Wachsmuth found the time to practice with his workload as MD/CEO of Nestle Nigeria Plc. I came on weekdays to teach Mrs Wachsmuth and her kids, then on Saturdays around 9 a.m. I would come to Mr Wachsmuth.
They were very dedicated students, especially Mrs Wachsmuth. She was brilliant, and before long she asked me to start teaching her Beethoven’s Fur Elise. At first, I doubted she could play the piece at that stage, but when we started she proved me wrong. She practised for long hours every day and made substantial progress such that I had to work extra hard to keep ahead of her as a master.
The only challenge I had with Mr Wachsmuth and the two kids, Leah and David, was to keep them interested in learning the piano. I had to select pieces that connected with them and sometimes had to compose songs that will excite them. Mr Wachsmuth was a very interesting character. He never stopped questioning certain aspects of music theory and the arrangement of the black and white keys on the piano, suggesting “better ways” those things could have been done.
I liked him so much, and he liked me too. Our relationship went beyond student-teacher affair. We discussed almost everything – arts, science, cultures, Nigeria’s problems, problems of Europe and America, business, and more. I guess he found me well versed in those other issues apart from music and piano.
Sometimes in-between the lesson he would go into the kitchen and bring something for us to chew. One day he brought something that looked like sausage rolls. He broke it into two and gave me the other half. “Taste this,” he said. “You people say Oyibo man doesn’t eat pepper.”
I laughed heartily. The snack was very peppery indeed, but delicious. It had vegetables and many other spices rolled inside it. “This is delicious and peppery too. You certainly do eat a lot of pepper.”
“Not a lot,” he said. “Do you want more?” Before I could say he was wasting time he was already up and going back to the kitchen.
Sometimes when the lessons were over he would drive me to the bus stop in his big Prado Jeep amid protest by his wife. She never approved of him driving. “Klaus, you shouldn’t do that,” the wife would say. But he would assure her it was ok. “Don’t worry, I won’t go beyond the bus stop,” he said. One of the policemen that guard him would try to accompany us but Mr Wachsmuth would wave him away. He was a very simple man.
One day, as student and teacher sat together at the piano I said to him: “Sir, very few people have the opportunity to sit this close to the MD of a trans-national company like Nestle. It’s like sitting close to Jesus every week. Some of your blessings are supposed to rub off on me.”
He laughed and said, “what do you want?”
“I need a job in Nestle,” I said emphatically.
He grumbled and said, “But I have given you a job already.”
“Which job sir?”
“This,” he said, thumping on the piano keys, “to teach me and my entire family.”
“Sir, this one is not a job o. The day you and your family learn to play this piano very well the job will come to an end.”
He laughed so raucously. “But…you are into music…what are you gonna be doing at Nestle? We don’t need a piano teacher there.”
“That’s where you are wrong sir. I am a well-trained journalist and a very good writer. I will add tremendous value to the corporate affairs department of your company.”
“So what qualifications do you have in journalism, and what have you written?”
“I have a Post-Graduate Diploma in Journalism from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism and as I speak with you, I write for the Vanguard newspaper.”
Luckily, I had with me that day’s copy of Weekend Vanguard in which my second novel, River of Tears was being serialized the second time after the first serialization. I opened the newspaper and spread the well-illustrated pages for him on the piano.
He was engrossed looking at it. I pointed out to him where my name, OSA AMADI, was boldly designed as the author.
“This is good,” he said, offering me his hand. I shook the hand. “You can have this copy,” I said.
“Thank you. Do you write this every Saturday?”
“Ok. I have to be buying the Vanguard newspaper every Saturday.”
So every Saturday Mr Wachsmuth would buy Weekend Vanguard. Soon, some of the things I narrated in the story became part of our discussions amid piano lessons. “You are a very good writer, even though I don’t quite understand some of the cultural issues you deal with in the story. So, you want me to hire you for Nestle?”
“Ok. Bring your C.V when next you come. I will give it to the HR.”
“Thank you, sir.”
As I was going home that day, Nestle rang like a bell in my head throughout. I had good news for my wife. The MD/CEO of Nestle can’t give my C.V to his Human Resources Head and they fail to give me the job. I started preparing for a life at Nestle Nigeria Plc.