After 2 months of traveling around the world, I finally made it to this side of the wall; my motherland. I had heard a lot about Nigeria from friends but it was not enough. Although I was born in Nigeria, the only home I knew was France. I took my very first step in this country so I was no stranger to it. No one knew I was coming to Nigeria, not even my parents who lived in France and never encouraged me to come back home. As I stepped out of the plane; my feet on my mother’s soil, I knew I was home. I picked up my luggage, with nowhere in particular to go to, I headed for the exit sign.
I figured that the shoes I had on was the wrong one for this journey after I felt my weight begin to fall slowly on my left leg. I endured it for a while but when I began to feel everyone’s eyes on me, I knew my pain was now written all over my face. I sighted a young lady at the waiting area. She had a friendly face from the rest the ladies there . I approached her, hoping she would put an end to my misery.
“Please do you have an extra per of sandal I could borrow? Slipper will do also; please I just need to get off these heels.”
She smiled nicely, but I knew she was probably thinking who sent me to wear the shoes.
She starred at me pitifully and said, “Oh well today is your lucky day.” She went into her hand bag and handed me a slipper that was at least a side bigger than what I wore. I thanked her and gracefully collected the slippers. I annoyingly pulled of my killer heels and let my feet bare.
“Are you okay?”
“Yes, yes,” I answered, smoothing my toe nails with my hands.
“If that’s all, I will be going. My brother will be here in no time.”
“Please wait.” I gathered the shoes I was once wearing and handed them to her. “Please take this, I don’t know how else to thank you… please manage this.”
When she sighted the sole of the shoes, her eyes became Wilder.
“Yes, and I want you to have them.” I left the shoes in her hands, picked my luggage bag and walked off like an injured lion. Now I needed a place to stay.
I boarded a taxi when I came outside the airport. After driving a long way off to no where and him stopping to pick up other passengers, the taxi man asked for his money.
“Sir, this is all I have right now.” I handed him a hundred dollar note. His once frowning face became brighter. Before the taxi driver could collect the money, a voice spoke up.
“Here is your money, no be 200 naira?” I turned around to see who was speaking. There were 3 other passengers in the taxi with me. I assumed that the man who was now digging his hands into his pocket was the owner of the voice I heard. He gave the taxi driver the money. The taxi driver hissed as he folded the money into his hands. I smiled back at the good Samaritan and he simply nodded his head. The taxi came to a stop and the young man stepped out, without thinking, I took off with him. I asked the driver to quickly open his trunk so I could get my luggage out.
“I didn’t get a chance to thank you.” I said, panting because I had to run after this man who was far gone. He heard my voice and stopped.
“I’m so sorry, I didn’t know you were following behind.” he offered to take my luggage from me.
“No I can handle this. Thank you for paying for my taxi fee, it seems since I got here everyone has been helping me.” My breathing finally became controlled.
“Hey, are you new to Nigeria? I knew it from the way I was looking at you in the taxi…” Clearing his throat, he continued, “you don’t seem to…”
“Fit?… yes.” We began walking.
“Are you here to visit family?”
“Well not really… No, I am all by myself.” I came in front of him. “Please is there a hotel you could lead me too. I’m sorry if I am burdening you but like you said…”
“Don’t worry about it, I will figure something out for you.” I smiled. We walked silently, daring each other to speak first. I took that time to carefully access him. He had on a simple shirt and dress pants with pan slippers. He was quite a handsome man. I admired the way his mouth curved into a smile whenever his eyes wandered on me. Every now and then, he caught me stealing glances at him which made my fair colored cheeks turn red.
“Are you hungry? I know a place around here where we can get something to eat.” I had forgotten that the only food in my stomach was the one I ate in the plane. I gently patted my stomach, nodding my head to his request.
“What part of Lagos is this?” It didn’t look like the part my parents had shown me of beaches while I was growing up. It was not the same as France obviously. The streets were crowded, everywhere was loud, not what I was used to.
“This is the heart of Lagos, everyone and everything you will ever need is here. Now, we are not the richest but we make it work.” I nodded, waiting for the waiter to bring the food we had ordered for.
After my plate of rice came, the scent of the stew opened up my stomach. His bowl of eba was placed in from of him and he wasted no time in washing his hands.
“You should try this,” he said, while swallowing. “you can’t live off just rice if you are going to be staying in Lagos for long.” I made no comment. Was I staying in Lagos for long? I shivered at the thought of that. I couldn’t imagine staying here for more than 2 weeks at the most!
When we finished our meal, I offered to pay. I had money, just not in the currency they used in Nigeria. He frowned saying, “With those your dollar notes; nah I got this.”
We left the restaurant and got to walking again.
“Can’t we get on a taxi to go to the hotel or something?”
“Are your legs hurting?” I was already too much of a burden to him so I said no.
“Yes we could get on a bus but…” He paused. He felt his trouser pockets. “don’t worry, it’s not a far walk.”
Truly, 10 minutes later we were at a very secluded area. I didn’t know if I should be scared. I had been walking with the stranger for most of the day on my own freewill. I somehow trusted him but it didn’t seem like we were anywhere close to a hotel.
I stopped walking; I figured I needed to be smart before I regretted ever trusting him.
“What’s wrong?” he halted too.
“I really appreciate you helping me all this while but I really which you would just get me settled in a hotel.”
“Oh.” he laughed. “Come on, I am not going to hurt you. I figured you’re not used to this place and taking you to a hotel will be even worse. I mean no harm.” I was still hesitant. He noticed the fear in my eyes.
“Okay, my name is Daniel. My house is a few blocks away. I am not going to bite you and if you don’t believe me, I can just leave you here and be on my way. No stress.” He bore my father’s name. I trusted my father and so I guessed I could trust another Daniel. I took a deep breath and a step forward.
“Small girl.” he chuckled.
TO BE CONTINUED…