The crickets chirped, the frogs croaked, the night was alive, nature’s eerie wind passed over the corn rows behind the barn, and they joined the nocturnal chorus. Though half asleep, Ashake was a part of their fellowship. Her heart tuned to every sound even as her mind churned in a whirlwind of roaring thoughts.
She looked out the window and the lone star she glimpsed from afar seemed to send a spark into her worried soul. She took that as a good sign from the gods. She adjusted her falling wrapper and lay down again on the raffia mat she had always slept on for the past 19 years. She shouldn’t arouse anyone with her pacing footsteps. Now that the morning was so close, she stared at the thatched roof as if it shone a path into the future.
Ashake could see Lagos already. She could smell it, Durojaiye has regaled her with tales of the big city. its bustling streets, its tarred roads, the elegantly dressed men and women, the cries of ‘Oshodi’ by drunk and mean looking youths called conductors, her heart beat accelerated. Already, she could taste the ‘Ewa goin’ he often told her about and she could see herself elegantly dressed in the arms of the one she loved, living the city life.
Sango has been kind to her, she thought. Her dreams were just a few hours away. even though she didn’t plan it this way, it didn’t matter she thought. She was going to finish her secondary school in the city and go to the university too. Maami has always told her to be true to her heart and follow her dreams. no one will care after all when she returns in a few years time with her husband and their baby. She rubbed her 3 weeks pregnant tummy and hoped the baby will be a boy, thoughts of that curled a smile across her pretty face and it blew away some of the guilt that plagued her of leaving home without telling her parents. She didn’t want to bring shame to them.
The first cock crow shook her away from her thoughts and she jumped up with the agility of a feline cat. She grabbed the sack that also served as her pillow, stuffed the few wrappers she had into them, and threw on her only gown. He had asked her not to pack too much.
She sneaked out of the window and hurried across her father’s hut. When she was across the road, she looked back one more time and prayed for Sango to keep her parents safe till she gets back. Ashake hurried to the garage, she avoided the majorfootpaths so as not to come across any of the villagers on their way to the farm. She smiled to herself as she imagined him waiting impatiently, his brows creased a worried smirk on his face. He had made her swear she won’t disappoint him. If only he knew how much she wanted this.
The garage loomed and Ashake smiled. There was a beehive of activities. It was unusually busy because the youth corpers who came to serve in the town were all returning home today. She saw Ifeanyi who served with Durojaiye at her school clinic, sitting beside the white bus loading for Lagos. His face lit up with a smile when he saw her. He responded warmly to her greetings. No one knew of their plan, she thought.
After taking a brief look around, she asked Ifeanyi if Durojaiye was here already. He smiled and told her Durojaiye left about twenty minutes ago with the first Lagos bound bus. Her stomach churned and she suddenly felt queasy. She held onto Ifeanyi’s shirt and asked him if he was serious. Iya Tope the food seller beside them jokingly confirmed it asking her if she came to bid him farewell. Ashake screamed, her eyes wet with tears, and her vision blurred. She felt her legs give way under her, She didn’t feel anything as she fell into faintness.