So I missed my flight. Yes, bite me. E no go reach wetin I bite myself. That occurrence left me in an unprecedented state of depression for 2 whole days. I barely left my bed for those 2 days, getting up only to do the necessary things like shower, relieve myself and eat. I alternated my stares between my boxes-standing sentinel and watching me accusingly, as if saying ‘It’s all your fault, you dumbo’-and my computer screen. Whenever I got tired of keeping my eyes open, I would succumb to sleep, and wake up only to repeat the whole process again. And when Friday-the day I was rescheduled to travel-finally decided it had tortured me enough and deigned to roll over from its slumber and meet me, I refused to close my eyes. After taking a bath I was out of my house at 2 am, and I got to the Airport roughly 2-and-a-half hours later. I had agonized throughout the whole journey (this one qualify for long journey sef oh!) about a repeat performance, rightfully fearing that there would be no coming back from that one; while simultaneously feeling like I was in a never-ending nightmare-y’all know my crazy mind and the way it works; the things it can conjure…..at least some of you do.
Anyway, I got to Heathrow with time to spare. I met only a handful of people, and I wondered if I was too early. My body was weak and buzzed up at the same time; I was like a walking can of diluted Red Bull. I camped before the doors that led to the Underground Train Station that ran a circuitous route through Heathrow. Looking at my fellow travelers was boring, I couldn’t concentrate on the novel I was reading, neither could I concentrate on the music I was listening to, so in the end I stowed them both away and rushed to get some snacks, only for one strap of my backpack to tear off on my way back. Great. As if I didn’t have enough problems already, Bad Luck Murphy, who I’m going to call Mr Murphy from here on out, had it in for me. My day was getting off to quite a start. I wondered how I would juggle it with 2 heavy boxes. Well, that would sort itself out later, and so I went back to regarding my boring corridor-mates.
For company, I had a polite-looking Chinese man who looked like he was backpacking across Europe, 4 sleepy Indians, a teenage Chinese couple who couldn’t get over their camera, and a girl who appeared…well, can’t remember, as she was heavily asleep at the time, with her face tucked away somewhere in the folds of her disheveled clothes and boxes. And here I stood, suddenly feeling over-dressed in my blue Jeans, white, orange and whatever-colour striped long-sleeve shirt, black leather jacket and my new, black, Quicksilver sneakers. I had even taken time to wear some perfume.
Oh well, na dem sabi. It’s not my fault they decided to turn up in their pyjamas, is it?
Anyway, 5.30 am finally rolled up (I had the feeling that Mr Murphy was REEEALLY against my traveling to Nigeria for the holidays) and by then, a sizeable crowd had developed in our waiting area. And then the doors were opened, and we all surged forward towards the Underground train terminal that would take us all to Terminal 4. After struggling to get my boxes and bag on board and off the train, trolleyed them (finally) to an elevator and up to the check-in area, I was almost out on my feet.
What I saw made me scream internally.
Heathrow at 6 in the morning is worse than Waterloo and Liverpool Street Station at 4 pm combined. It looked like a UN convention for the desperate, without the World Leaders. Almost every inch of its vast space was covered my people and boxes. I saw people struggling to distribute the weight of their luggage (he/she was hell-bent on taking that Toaster/TV/Gladiator Shoes/Jeans/Chocolate back home with him/her). At least, my boxes were okay; I had checked the previous time I’d come, and I had been careful not to add or subtract from them. Tearing my eyes away from them, I finally made my way to the check-in line for Air France, and I joined the snaking queue. Thankfully, my flight was the first flight and they gave us priority, so within 20 minutes, I had checked-in, collected my Boarding Pass, and was on my merry way to the gate. And while I was on my way there, I heard the FINAL boarding call for my flight.
Mr Murphy, working overtime, for work wey dem no pay am.
Kai! Na lie! All the winch people dem, una plan no go work again!
I ran/skipped/hopped, trying to dodge the mother with her kids in front of me, while I held on to my one-strapped bag with one hand, and my novel with the other, as I tried to say my goodbyes on the phone. I was a master-juggler that morning; I’m sure Houdini must’ve turned over in his grave and gone Zombie-Green with envy.
Eventually (Thank God) I got on the plane, and made my way to my seat. Only then did I let myself relax; even the screaming kid behind me could not rob me of the joy I was feeling at that time. The warmth of the sun (yes, London was uncharacteristically warm that morning) was on my face, caressing my skin though the window, and everything was perfect, fine. Dandy, in fact. I said a short prayer, greeted the man who sat beside me, started to read my novel, thought the better of it, and turned on my music instead, and then the plane began to taxi. As it picked up speed, my elation grew, more than usual, given the special nature of this trip. And when the plane took off, so did my heart, as I left behind all my worries (well, some-no escaping that Dissertation ish, lurking like the proverbial Sword of Damocles in the deepest recesses of my mind) in London en-route to Charles De Gaulle Airport, Paris. I closed my eyes and smiled contentedly. Yes, it was all worth it.
This first phase was a short trip anyway; about an hour or so, and soon I was in CDG, Paris. I listened to M. Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold scream in my ears in their song, Afterlife. I think I destroyed the replay button because of that song, hehehe…
Anyway, we disembarked, and I made my way to the next gate, not knowing to expect in CDG, as this was my first time here.
I was almost blown away.
I say almost because it wasn’t like what I had experienced at Heathrow. Still, the sheer number of people here bordered on terrifying. We Nigerians dey travel oh!
After the normal search and scan process, I walked to the rather drab-looking waiting area. Then my flight was delayed for about 20 minutes, but then they later called us. I navigated to my seat-another window seat, lucky me-took out my manuscript and kept it on my lap, turned on the music again and took out my novel, A Dark Matter by Peter Straub-one of the most understated Masters of Literary Horror, (too many books, but I didn’t mind) and settled in. Eventually, a beautiful lady took the seat beside me (*wink*) and I nodded my hello to her, which she returned. This promised to be interesting.
And so, with the sun in my face, music in my head and laughter in my heart, I was being carried on feathered nothingness across time and space, to the only place I had ever loved, and to the people who mattered most in the whole world to me.
I was going home.