The Brigerian Airline flight attendant sprayed into the plane’s overhead luggage compartments as she cat-walked towards me.
I turned to Akwete. “Why is she spraying the bags?”
“You ask her.”
I looked around, hoping to recruit like-minded faces. No dice. I waved at the attendant. “Ma’am, why are you spraying the overhead?”
Her smile disappeared. She slammed the overhead above me shut and walked away.
“You see that, Akwete? She ignored my question.”
Akwete pressed the back of his head against his seat. “The plane is still in Lagos. You know we Nigerians like to take our okporoko everywhere.”
“I don’t smell anything.”
“My point. The spray killed it.”
“First time flying?” the man across the aisle to my left asked, extending his hand. “Adekunle. Retired civil servant.”
I shook his hand. “First time seeing this. Never happens in America.”
“Aaah. Welcome to Africa. Different people, different setting.”
“What’s the difference, and why does the government allow it?”
Mr. Adekunle shrugged his shoulders. The little girl in front of me coughed violently. The passenger next to her leaned away and covered her nose with a handkerchief.
I nudged at Akwete. “See? The spray is affecting that child.”
“She has cough.”
“I don’t, and my throat’s getting scratchy. That thing she sprayed is not deodorant.”
Akwete laughed. “Ah, Americans. You plan to sue, abi?”
I ignored Akwete’s remark, stood up, and leaned over to console the coughing girl.
A male flight attendant sprayed the overheads for a second time.
I stood up straight and turned towards the attendant. “May I see your spray, please?”
He looked at me as if I’d asked him to wipe spit off my face. “Why?”
“What’s in the spray? It’s making the little girl cough.”
He started to walk away. I yanked the can out of his grip.
“Festus!” Akwete grabbed me from behind, preventing me from having a close look at the can’s labelling.
The attendant reached for the can and missed. “Sir, you need to take your seat.”
Akwete leaned into my ear. “What are you doing? Are you out of your mind?”
“Let me see what’s in the can. It may be poison.”
“Yes. For ants!”
“Let me check!”
“The pilot said that it’s safe. Give the spray back to the man.”
“The pilot is not an allergist, Akwete.”
“Neither are you. If the Nigerian government approved it, then it’s good enough.”
“Bobo, sit down. You’re embarrassing us o,” a voice called out from behind.
“Maybe na terrorist,” the lady with the handkerchief said. “Maybe na Osama Bin Laden send am! Wey security?”
“Ignorant woman,” a passenger hissed. “You no hear say Obama kill Osama? Olodo!”
“He no matter. Na Osama pikin send am!”
A police officer showed up. “Sir, you’re disturbing the peace.”
“I’m just asking questions, officer.” I started to walk back towards my seat.
“Question don jam answer. Arrest him, jare.”
The officer took the can from me and held unto it. “Stay right here, sir. Your passport, please.”
I pointed at my seat. He nodded, permitting me to go get my passport.
“I warned you about this!” Akwete admonished.
The harsh look on the white-bearded man to Akwete’s right softened when it settled on Akwete. “You’re a gentleman.”
Mr. Adekunle slipped a five hundred naira note into my hand. “Just give this to the officer.”
“Thank you, sir. But, no. Sorry.” I returned Mr. Adekunle’s money and walked back towards the officer.
“Festus! Na you?”
DJ Koololo waddled his way towards us from the first class section of the plane, parting the security detail like the Red Sea. He was decked out in designer outfit and bling. “Na you be the troublemaker?”
Koololo and I slammed chests, and then we broke into a rap song and dance, showcasing our signature salutation. This befuddled the airline crew to no end. Passengers familiar with the song stood up at their seats and sang along.
“Sir, Mr. Koololo,” the officer cut in. “I’m sorry, sir. But this man has to deplane. Government policy.”
“Listen, Mr. Policeman. This man is clean. He’s my publicist in Los Angeles. I didn’t even know he was on the plane o. Eh, Festus. You finally came to visit Naija! What is your opinion?”
“The government has to look into this spray thing, DJ. It’s bad.”
“Eh? Which government? Mtcheew. They’re busy chopping money. What’s your opinion of Naija?”
“Nigeria is great. I love the food, the languages.”
“And the women, abi? Tell the truth. You have to come back. How many wives do you want?”
The officer cleared his throat and said, “DJ, sorry, sir. I am following protocol. He has to come with me.”
“Give me your card. I will see you on my way back.”
The officer gave DJ a card.
“If you still want him to deplane, I’ll come with him,” DJ Koololo declared. “I am with my brother here. Let’s go.”
The officer’s frame sagged. “Eh, no need, sir. We will just check his passport to make sure that he is who he says he is. We will be right back.”
DJ Koololo turned to me. “Don’t worry. Get your stuff. You’re going to the front with me. No spray there.”
“I will go with the officer to satisfy him, DJ. Don’t worry about me. I would like to invite someone else in my place.” I leaned into his ear. “There’s a little girl who can’t stand the spray. She’s with her mother.”
DJ Koololo waved impatiently. “Bring all of them. I have three empty seats. My backup singers are coming on another flight. You must come. We have to talk business.”
I informed the mother of the girl about the offer, and then I picked up my backpack.
Akwete sat up straight. “Where are you going?”
“The front. Sorry, but he says he has only three seats.”
“I can have one na, abi?”
“Sorry. Mother and child. See you in London.”
Howyoudey (Uko Bendi Udo) here. I was chosen as one of the 12 finalists in this year’s TheNakedConvos.com’s The Writer 2014 Competition. Posted below is my entry for Week 1. Please read, and if the spirit moves you, go to the link below and vote – for me, of course. Thanks.