We were very happy when Mummy announced that Auntie Rose would be visiting. Auntie Rose was our big cousin. Her Daddy was our Mummy’s older brother. We were told she would stay with us for some time as she waited to gain admission into the university. She would take care of us to allow Mummy have time to be with Daddy at the hospital. Now we wouldn’t have to go and sleep at our neighbour’s house any longer. Mummy said Auntie Rose was to come by train from Makurdi. I’ve never seen a real train. The only ones I’ve seen were those toy trains inside the glass shelves at the Leventis stores. Auntie Dupe told us that the real trains were usually very long with plenty compartments. She said they don’t move as fast as cars, and that their engines made very loud noises. She said trains could travel through forests and on bridges across rivers. She also told us that their horns could be heard many miles way.
“Can we ride in a train, please?” I pleaded with Mummy.
“Why not?” she said to me, “Maybe I should even suggest to your Daddy when he gets well that we should all go visit Uncle Agbo and his family in Agila.”
“Is Agila very far from here?” Oyigwe asked our Mummy.
“Yes, it is very far from here, my dear,” Mummy said to her, “You have to pass through Kafanchan, Lafia and Makurdi before you will finally arrive at Igumale, from there you will then take a lorry going to Agila.”
“Whoa!” My sister exclaimed and opened her mouth very wide because she was surprised. I always told her to stop opening her mouth wide like that; it made her looked like Cookie Monster every time she did so.
“Is it true that some trains have bed for sleeping in them?” Oyigwe asked.
“Yes. Some of the compartments are fitted with beds for sleeping. But they are more expensive than the ones without beds,” Mummy said to her.
“I will tell Daddy to put us inside the one with beds in them,” I said happily.
Afterwards, Mummy left me and my sister in the parlour and went to take her bath. She said she wanted to prepare to go and be with Daddy in the hospital.
Oyigwe said she wished Auntie Rose would just arrive before Mummy left the house so that we wouldn’t have to go to the Salamis’ place again today.
“Me too,” I said to her; we were worried that unless Auntie Rose arrived on time, Mummy would take us to stay at the Salamis house for yet another night…
“Maybe Auntie Rose’s train got spoilt on the way,” My sister murmured.
“Would they send another train to come to pick them if theirs got spoilt on the way?” I asked her.
“No. They can only trek through the forest to the next train station and beg the people at the station to come and help them push it back,” Oyigwe replied. We were still talking when we heard the sound of a car outside the house. We both rushed to the window. A taxi just stopped by the tarred road in front of our house, and a big Auntie came out. The driver went to the back of his car and started bringing out her bags for her.
“Maybe she is Auntie Rose,” I told my sister. The last time Aunty Rose visited, our mummy said I was too little to have recognised her. My heart started to beat fast.
“Let’s wait and see if she’s Auntie Rose then she would come towards our house,” Oyigwe said. I noticed she was excited too.
The big Auntie paid the driver and started coming towards our house with her bags.
“She must be Auntie Rose!” I told my sister happily.
“Mummy, Auntie Rose has arrived!” Oyigwe shouted.
Mummy who had finished dressing by now hurried over to know what was making us excited. She peeped through the window and said it was indeed Auntie Rose.
“Open the door for her,” Mummy said to me.
I jumped down from the chair and hurried to open the door.
We all welcomed Auntie Rose into the house. She was almost as tall as our Mummy. When she smiled at us I noticed she even had gapped upper tooth like our Mummy. She smelt nice too. I quickly told myself that I like the scent of her perfume. Mummy said Oyigwe should take her bags to the bedroom. She also said to me: “Don’t just stand there, Otseme. Get some drinking water for your Aunty.”
“As if you know I’m dying of taste right now, Auntie Grace,” she said to our Mummy as she threw herself onto the sofa.
“And your parents how are they?” I overheard Mummy asking as I hurried away to get drinking water from the kitchen. I was very happy. I told myself I would show Auntie Rose how to make aeroplane with papers from exercise books and then I would beg with her to tell me interesting stories.