Written By Shalomdee
The day for departure had finally arrived. She packed up her suitcase and whisked her handbag that contained her phone, charger, notepad, lip gloss, few sanitary pads, handkerchiefs, ear bud and cash. Her aunt had given her five thousand naira for the journey and given her Rahila’s number. They had spoken the day before and she had given Jane directions where to stop. Slowly she drew the brown medium sized travelling box to the sitting room to meet her aunt and son who were waiting. As Isaac saw the travelling box, he quickly let go of his grand aunt’s hand and reached for his mother.
“Mummy, cawi me,” he pleaded.
Jane was filled with warmth for him and almost rushed to carry him but was prevented by Aunt Gloria who foresaw a bigger crisis if Jane carried him.
“Let us pray,” Aunt Gloria announced.
Jane nodded and searched for her handkerchief in the bag with which to cover the tiny braids she had made for the journey. She wore a blue short sleeved shirt and a black nylon skirt. She covered her head and looked down at the black loafers Cousin Esther had given her when she visited last. It looked new and only Aunt Gloria could have guessed it was given to her and not bought.
“Our dear Lord, we thank you for today. We thank you for all the wonderful things you have done, are doing and will continue to do. Thank you most especially for Jane standing right here. You deposited in Jane a wonderful brain and equipped her with beauty to match her brain. We know o Lord that she made a mistake in the past and is still recovering from the impact of that mistake, but Lord, you said even if the righteous fall they shall surely rise again. Jane is ever ready to rise and prove to the world that her life can amount to something good.
I prayed to you Lord to open a door for her tertiary institution funding and you have made a way through her cousin and her spouse in Abuja. Thank you for the door Lord. We ask that you take control. Grant Jane a safe trip and direct her once she is there to do well and have favour with everyone she comes across. We ask you to grant her favour, success, direction and protection. As for her little boy who she will be leaving behind, please be all he wants to him. Keep him safe Lord.
Keep us all safe from harm and keep providing for us because you are our father and husbandman. We ask in Jesus name.”
“Amen!” Both Jane and her son answered.
“And also Lord, give Jane wisdom not to fall into the wrong hands again. Soon she will want to get married, and men will come her way, please deliver her from wicked and unreasonable men in Jesus name.”
“Amen, na go de Auntie. Thanks so much.”
“You better go now, don’t arrive later than when they are expecting you. They are hospital workers so their time is calculated. Once you get to ABC Transport park in Gwagwalada, call your cousin’s husband. Address him as Brother, you hear me?”
“Yes Ma, but my problem now is Isaac, he will not let me go.”
Isaac was holding tight to the traveling box like a man who was holding the reins of a horse, he had started making his whining noise. His face was contorted waiting for the slightest incitement to start howling. She cannot leave me here, she thinks she is smart but I will make her take me to wherever she intends to go. He thought.
“I will handle this.” Aunt Gloria said. “Isaac,” she called in a sing song voice, “you are following you mum okay? Go to the room and take out your blue sneakers I got for you, be fast, we are waiting.”
Isaac, not knowing the plan his grand aunt was cooking up, left his hold of the box and ran excitedly to the room. Aunt Gloria made a signal with her eyes and hands and Jane hurried out, taking great care not to make noise as she did. By the time she was at the gate, she heard Isaac scre-ming at the top of his voice. My poor little angel, she thought.
The white RS 104 bus was almost filled up when Jane got to the ABC Transport park after British America Junction. She paid two thousand naira for her fare and got in. It was already 7 a.m. Jane looked at her phone’s calendar, it was the 28th of July 2013. She had mixed feelings as she sat at the last seat in the bus. A part of her was excited at what awaited her and a part of her was anxious. But she was resolved to control her feelings when she got to Abuja to make sure that Rahila and Lancelot will not see any reason to send her back. She needed this opportunity to redeem her pride. Once she got admission to the university, she will be the happiest lady on the planet.
The bus was about taking off, someone at the middle row said a prayer committing the journey into God’s hands. She sighted a girl in ill matching clothes selling Gala sausage rolls and soft drinks. She decided to buy two Galas. The young man sitting close to her bought one and two bottled cokes. The bus drove slowly out of the park and picked up pace gradually. She sighed as a gust of wind entered through the windows. Jane loved traveling. The speed, sights and sounds of the journey made her at ease.
As the bus left the city of Jos, the young man sitting by her left dug out a book in his briefcase and started reading it. Jane stole a peek at it, it was a book by John Grisham. She regretted why she had not put a novel in her hand bag for the trip. The trip was to last for four hours and she now wondered what she would do in the interim. She remembered she had downloaded a copy of poems by Dennis Brutus in her Ebook Reader; she took out her phone and began reading the poems. They passed a lot of villages and towns at high speed. The driver was a middle aged man with a dark complexion and straight forward gaze. He did not care to comment on any topic some of the other middle aged passengers raised. His only concern was how to reach Abuja within the fastest time.
Jane thought about her mother. When she heard that Jane would be going to help in Rahila’s house she had first of all frowned, her fat round face had grimaced and her forehead suddenly formed contours, like the lines in a Geography textbook. She had murmured about those lazy rich people not seeing anyone else to come and do the work of a house girl, then she had begun lecturing Jane about how a child could recourse to being timid and quiet when he stopped seeing his parents any more. Aunt Gloria had then intercepted her, arguing in Berom that such never occurred and that she was only viewing the wh0le thing from one angle.
Two of them had then argued continuously in Berom which Jane found a little bit difficult to speak. Caro blamed Gloria for taking control over matters that concerned her daughter while Gloria justified herself saying Jane was equally her own daughter and she had every right to make decisions for her. The argument then ended and Caro made a note that she had finished repaying her debts and could now look for ways of sponsoring her daughter’s tertiary institution. None of them said anything to her. When they left her house Aunt Gloria had said resolutely that the choice was for Jane to make, but she would advice her to go to Abuja if she wanted things to work smoothly for her.
She sighed deeply, the bus had now reached Hawan Kibo. Her thoughts had made her lower phone. Reading now seemed an upheaval task, thinking will do for her. She
just wanted to dwell on thoughts and plan how she would behave when she got to her cousin’s place.
“Are you a lover of Dennis Brutus?” The man sitting next to her asked. He was average sized and his mouth smelt of garlic because he had consumed a meal of beans which his girlfriend had served him that morning before he left her house.
Jane shook her head without even looking at him. She did not want to encourage any discussion with him. A thought was luring her into a land of solitude and she was bent on letting it have its recourse.
“I don’t enjoy poetry,” he went on. “I am not a fan of mystic and coded writing. My best genre is prose. I enjoy novels and short stories, particularly from the American shores. My best authors are Leo Tolstoy, Edgar Allen Poe, Ernest Hermingway, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, J. K Rowling, and this other female writer, I can’t really remember her name now.” He said looking at her face.
Jane gave him a scowling look that was intended to make him back off. He smiled instead and thrust out his hand. “My name is Dayo”. His garlic breath had encircled the atmosphere choking Jane. She was fenced in. She shook his hand and told him her name all the while trying to avoid his garlic stench.
To be continued
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