As the clouds began to rumble, we began to mumble. A moist scent engulfed the air and the atmosphere felt like an ocean-ride. From a distance, the hills seemed to be covered with snow. To the best of my knowledge, Nigeria had never experienced snowfalls. I actually saw that topographical-aspect as a mirage. Even the chilly weather couldn’t disenfranchise the electorate from exercising their rights. We kept on discussing global warming, the scarcity of petroleum products and the economy. While other voters were condoning the fear of a heavy downpour, I drew nearer to a woman who looked twenty-years older than my mother.
She looked like a scarecrow and wore rags as clothes. She could barely move and kept on shivering as thunder-claps formed a silhouette around the voting arena. I tried not to show her too much pity as she spoke of her husband’s demise intensively. “He died during one of the federal government organized exercises for pensioners. It must have been pneumonia”, she said. Her fair command of English suggested that she was quite learned. Her only child had travelled to Asia in search of ‘greener’ pastures. Ever since Ikemdi’s journey to Taiwan a dozen years back, no one had ever heard from him. “I believe the white men have killed him, he can’t snub me”, she said in a very pitiful voice. Teardrops rolled down my cheeks as we sat under the pear tree adjacent to the polling booth. The tree reduced the intensity of the rainfall which eventually drenched us as it washed my tears. I tried to console her with kind words but I ended up speaking off the tangent. While some voters read damp newspapers, others got embroiled in heated discussions as the rain subsided.
Hand-in-hand, we trudged towards the queue. I made sure she stayed directly ahead of me on the queue. I excused myself as I went in search of a seat but she stopped me when she realized my intentions. “It’s a price we must pay”. She spoke passionately of our nation as she clenched her lean fists around her voter’s card. As she spoke of the hope she had for a new Nigeria, heads began turning backwards. The Governor of the state had just arrived amidst a lot of media brouhaha and had simply joined the queue. Journalists scrambled for scoops as people waved at the state’s first citizen. We were approaching our turn as the sun began to descend on us its scorching heat.
It was over a week since the election and the results had been announced. This time around, the popular choice amongst the masses had been elected as the nation’s president. Smiles had been sprinkled to the wrinkled faces of Nigerians. Love had been rekindled across the country. The clouds were once again gathering and I remembered that this weather was akin to that of the Election Day. I reached for my wallet and brought out a sheet where 82 year-old Ahudiya had scribbled down her residential address. I reminisced on how she had squeezed the address into my hands when I alighted at my bus-stop that day.
As I walked down Teniola Street, my eyes toured the length and breadth of the vicinity while searching for house No.20. The thoughts of seeing my friend came to an abrupt end when I got my gaze fixed on a wall. Her obituary paper hung loosely against that wall. My legs were glued to the spot as a flood of tears gathered within me. But deep in me, I knew she was happy wherever she was.