Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Deja Vu

Republished for your reading pleasure :)

‘Oh my God, sorry, I’m so sorry’ I said, scared I may have severed her toes. In a bid to get my box into the boot of the dusty, old Hiace bus at the motor park in Jos, I’d dropped it, smack on her left foot. I looked up, into eyes that almost a decade later, I can still remember vividly. They were big and round and white, white like they had been soaked in ultramarine blue. She smiled at me and shrugged. ‘It’s alright, don’t worry about it.’ 
Huh? Who smiles when a box with two months’ supply of cosmetics, provisions and everything I believed I’ll need for the last lap of my NYSC drops on their feet? I could see her big toe turning a bright shade of red even as she said so. It seemed she didn’t want to be angry lest I be offended. I took a liking to her immediately. She reminded me of my younger sister. They were both the same size, my sister just has a bigger backside. We set out to Yola after tucking excess luggage under our seats, on our thighs and everywhere else we could find space, bent like foetuses in our third trimester.
I asked what her name was. ‘Constance’ she said, in a can-you-believe-my-parents-named-me-that kind of way, or maybe it was just the size of her eyes. I asked if she was a corps member like me, she said no. She had just gotten admission into the University of Technology and was going to school away from home for the first time. She didn’t know anyone in town and was hoping to make it to school before nightfall.

A burst tyre in Bauchi, an overheated engine in Gombe, and a child that grew sicker as the journey progressed; I could see the apprehension grow on Constance’s face as the sun made its way home and the bus got no closer to our destination. We got to Yola late in the night. Way after the curfew imposed on bikes to curb crime in the state had begun. Long after bus drivers had retired for the night. I could see the park empty out as relatives came and fetched their loved ones. I wasn’t overly worried about me. My apartment was a stone’s throw away. I was worried about Constance. I knew she couldn’t make it to the campus that night but I wasn’t sure if it was okay to take her home. My fingers have been so badly burned in the past; my Samaritan instincts had assumed a state of permanent hibernation until I met her.

It was just the two of us left in the park. She looked at me with those eyes and I knew what I had to do irrespective of what happened after. We went home together.

Constance moved out a day before my passing out parade. Getting accommodation hadn’t been as easy as she had hoped. I didn’t mind, she was great company.

I got home to my younger sister’s excited embrace. She just got admitted to a school in Bayelsa state and had gist for me. I listened in amazement and an intense sense of deja vu as she recounted her journey to school, how she met a lady on the bus that reminded her of me; the burst tyre and the sick child that made them stop every five minutes so he could puke, the uneasy quiet of the motor park when they finally got to their destination; the trepidation she felt as she wondered where she was going to sleep that night and how she was going to find her way, her relief when the lady picked up her bag, looked around the park and said, ‘There’s no way I’m leaving you here, you are coming home with me.’

© Naomi Lucas


MsJB said...

Wow deja Vu indeed! I just hope that people will stop giving us reasons not to want to help people when they are truly in need. It's amazing how far a little help can go.

WWJD said...

Hmm...nice...I believe soo much in helping people I don't know, cos I just feel someone close to me would be in need and a total stranger would reach out to them.....for example, my sis was in school in Europe and on the occasions we couldn't send her money for her upkeep (cos to gather correct dollar/pound for transfer no easy), and I knew she would be in need, I would go the extra mile to dash people who asked me money...from security, to cleaners name it.....I cant send her N200, but I could put a smile on someone's face by blessing them with N200..You get and God always showed himself mighty!