I got to Enugu on Friday evening and was amazed at the changes that had taken place in the eastern city. Enugu had changed so much since I had been there last that I couldn’t believe it. The city exudes an aura of sophistication that was not present years back and I could see it had attained a new level of civilization.
It’s been twelve years since I last visited Enugu. Since then, my aunt had always made the trip to Lagos to see us.
I got out from departures and looked around for any familiar face along the rows of cars parked in front of the airport. I was supposed to be picked up by my cousin but I didn’t see his face among the eager people waiting to see their loved ones. As I stood there, wondering what was going on, I felt a touch at my elbow. I looked back into the smiling face of Ikenna, the second son of my aunt.
“Hi Leona. How was the trip?” he asked as he took my bags.
I hugged him exuberantly and he was so surprised it took him some few seconds to return my hug. It’s been a few months I saw him, so I was a bit excited. “Na me you dey greet like oyinbo man? You no serious o.” I admonished, speaking pidgin English.
He laughed and decided to reply in pidgin too. “You no say na you be the oyinbo now. Me I be loci o.”
“Yeah right.” I rolled my eyes. He started leading to the car parked a way off. “How’s aunty Chioma?”
“She’s good. She’s excited to have you here.”
“I’m excited to be here too.” I replied. Although for serious business. I added silently.
“Yeah, she’s back from the office.”
We got into the car and drove towards Independence Layout where my aunt’s family lives
“So, Ik how is school? You should be in your final year now, right?”
“Yeah. I’m preparing for my finals.”
“Oh cool. So, what are you doing home?”
“I came to see the old man o. Cash things now. You know how it is.”
I laughed. “Yeah, I know how it is.”
“What brought you to our neck of the woods?”
“Neck of the woods? Enugu is far from been neck of anything o. The city has really changed. I’m impressed.”
“Yeah, that’s true. You’ve not been here for a while. There have been a lot of changes since the last time you were here.”
“Hmm hmm. It’s really cool.”
By this time we had got to the house and Ik honked the horn to alert the gateman. A few seconds later, the gate was opened and we drove into the compound. I looked around eagerly but found only slight changes. I was happy that at least the house was unchanged. It felt like coming home.
My aunt was waiting for me in the living room when I got in. I eagerly went to her and we hugged.
“Leona darling!” she exclaimed in her British accent. My aunt lived in the UK for a number of years so she sometimes carried on with the affectations of the English when speaking. That was when it suited her though. She could speak Igbo language like the next Igbo woman.
“Nne kedu ka imere?” She reverted to Igbo immediately. She usually liked to test me to be sure I still had a good command of the language.
“Kedu ka njem gi siri gaa?”
“Good, good. Welcome my dear. Go and freshen up, then come and we’ll talk.”
I would have preferred we talked directly but I obeyed her. After all, I was here to ask a favor of her. I quickly freshened up, changed my clothes, called Dapo to give him the update and went back downstairs. On getting back to her, she insisted I eat and I wolfed down the food as quickly as I could. I had to say what I had come to say, to find out if she could find a solution to my very big problem.
As soon as I was through eating, I went to look for my aunt. I found her in her bedroom looking through her wardrobe.
“Fine aunty. What are you doing?”
“Trying to pick a dress for a wedding tomorrow. You’ll come with me?”
“Of course. Aunty, can we talk now?”
“Sure.” She indicated the sofa by the bed and we both sat. “Tell me everything.” she invited.
With that slight encouragement, I told her everything that had been happening leaving nothing out and by the time I was through, she was looking at me intently.
“Your father said all that?” she asked incredulously.
“Yes, he did.”
She sighed and was deep in thought for some moments. “What could he mean?” she thought aloud. “Darling, I don’t want you to worry. I don’t know what put that idea in your dad’s head but I assure you I’ll speak to him about it to ascertain the reason for his decision.”
“Oh, thank you, aunty.”
“Would you be okay till next weekend? I have some things planned this weekend and I can’t get away.”
“No problem, I’ll be patient.”
She smiled. “Now, let me see this man of yours that’s making you go gaga. You have a picture?”
I laughed. “Of course aunty, and I’ll gladly show you.” I browsed through my phone and showed her a picture of Dapo and myself at the beach. She looked at it for a while and smiled again.
“I can see why you are going gaga.” She winked
I laughed once again. I just loved being with my fun-loving aunt. “Thank you Aunty.” I smiled happily.
“You are welcome. Now, come help me find a jaw- dropping dress for tomorrow.”
I gladly went along with her, my heart at peace that everything would be taken care of.