White Christmas: Part 1 - by Abimbola 'Bima' Ogochukwu Reju

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


(You remember Bima’s 'Hustle to Jand', and how she (literally) had to sacrifice three coconuts and a pregnant bat to get granted a tourist visa??

Well… she continues her chronicles here.

Enjoy!!)

*** 
So, I know this is coming three months, six days, twenty-three hours and fifteen seconds late.

(Oya coman beat me)

I could easily join the ‘workaholic’ band wagon and ‘lament’ about how “work has been hell!” and how “I haven’t had time for anything lately, not even for myself!” so that “I hardly eat, or sleep, or drink”.

Hogwash.

I’ve just been flat out lazy.  (I proudly wear the crown)

But now that I have your forgiveness, let’s pick up the story from where we stopped…


Act 10 SCENES 25-30.

It was December, and I worked since January 2nd, without taking any part of my annual leave. My bosses had no idea that by this time, I had traveled in the spirit. This was my year of White Christmas; nothing was going stop me.

***

I was driven to the airport in my very normal clothes.

Heck no!  I was not going to be one of those people at the Nigerian airport; fully geared up under 45 degrees (Celsius) of sizzling heat, with mufflers, baggy pants (which probably housed two or more pants underneath), head warmers and hand gloves. Looking like my village masquerade at the annual dance festival.

(Even folks travelling to Ghana!)

Yes; it was my first time going to the obodo oyibo, but I was not going to act all ‘razz’ at the Airport. Moreover I had my sister with me, who had made the trip to London a couple of times, and she was not dressed like a scarecrow placed in the farm.

***

Passengers with seat no 45 to 53 will be boarding first...”

I looked at my ticket and my grin almost popped right out of my face. My seat was among those boarding first!

(Thank you lord!)

I was going to do my Halle Berry catstep-down-the-hall-fan-blowing-in-your-fake-weave walk. Unfortunately, Nigerians will not allow someone be great at all. The scuffle to get checked in did not allow me shine, and I had broken into a full sweat by the time I struggled my way into the plane.

Imagine my deep sorrow to discover that my seat number was called first because I was seated at the tail-end of the airplane, close to the toilet. (Kuku hang me on the wing of the plane.)


*Insert crying face*

Having completed boarding, the plane took off, and flew directly to Heathrow. One minute, I was adjusting myself for take-off, then food arrived. Next minute… the Pilot was announcing we should get ready for landing.

(HIAN!!!)

I thought to myself seriously, “Is this the end of the plane ride to London???”

***  
So my sister and I were walking towards the Border Patrol point, where the Border Officers would confirm that my visa was indeed genuine (have you read my visa story?) I did not realise I had a funny look on my face.

Tee: “Bimz, are you ok? You look funny”.
Me: Huh? (Startled look) Well… actually, I was looking round for the air-condition vent, so I can avoid it. It’s so c-c-c-cold here (shivering slightly).
Tee: Oh! (finally understanding). There’s no ac o. That’s just the temperature inside the airport (in a casual tone). It will definitely be colder outside.

Ehhn?

(C’est nes pas)

At this point I looked back to see if the aircraft was still open to beg to be taken back. I was freezing! What evil spirit had convinced me to wear my regular Lagos clothes, with nothing to protect my neck, legs, hands or head?

(E don be for me!)

After going through the snakelike queue, my sister and I were finally called by one of the clearance officers.

This uncle started asking questions, but I guess the cold had frozen my brain, because I kept staring at my sister answer the entire questions, without uttering a word.

(I could have sworn I was having an out-of-body experience)

Then I noticed my sisters’ passport was collected, stamped and she was sent ahead, while uncle focused on me.

Uncle Border Force Officer: “M’am have you been refused a UK visa before?” (This man just wants to bring back painful memories abi?)
Me: “Yes I have” (Stick to the simple question asked, I warned myself).
Uncle Border Force Officer: “So where are you going to stay in London? “ (Shey bobo yi wa ok sha??  I will live under the mango tree.
Just because I was frozen doesn’t mean I did not hear him ask my sister that exact question)
Me: “With my aunty and my cousins at Cuckmere Way” (thank God I remembered that part).
Border Agent: “Ok. Please take a seat; I will be with you shortly”.

***

I slowly remembered my years of watching the UK Border Force program, and how I wickedly laughed at all those people they turned back. Were they going show me on television too?? Would I be stammering and stuttering??? Would people back home be laughing and saying “that’s how Nigerians like to disgrace themselves”?? Would I become a ‘yeyebrity’, just like that?

I looked forlornly at my sister who was still in my line of vision, and I wondered if I will be put on a flight back to Nigeria.

Yes, I know I was just wishing that a few minutes ago due to the cold. But I have not entered London na. All I had done was be in the sky for six hours.

Will crying at the top of my voice solve my problem, or rolling on the floor at their mercy?

Engrossed in my woeful thoughts, I did not notice that the agent had returned and was beckoning at me.

Uncle Border Officer: “Sorry Ma’am for the delay; was just checking a few things”
Me:  “Oh, it’s ok. No biggie” (your father, your uncle, and all the rest).
Uncle Border Officer: “Have a lovely holiday Ma’am…” (hands over my passport)

I quickly snatched my passport, wished him “same to you”, waved at him and ran off (just in case he was about to change his mind) I rushed to my sister; we got our bags, and boarded the underground train, to take us to London Bridge.

(Yay! London fiinally!!!)

***

But when we dropped off, all I could ask was “is this THE London Bridge? As in, the popular London bridge? Like, “London bridge is falling down” London Bridge?

I’m not sure what I was expecting exactly, but not this. Just a place. An open space.

A road.

A normal train track is THE ‘London Bridge’? Where is MY London Bridge?? Even Niger Bridge cloaks one with a solemn feel the minute one gets to the entrance. But this… this felt so… ordinary.

London felt quite ordinary. Almost ‘normal’. Dreary even… with snow covered everywhere.

(This was going to be a REALLY white Christmas)

Was this it?

Was this what thousands of kinsmen had died for, in the pursuit of ‘a better life’, no thanks to failed promises by government after government, making what is supposed to be our home inhabitable for it citizens?

Was this it??

***
Aunty said she made Amala with Ewedu. Alleluya!” My sister’s voice snapped me back to my ‘ordinary’ reality.

Oh well… if there was no magical bridge or Narnia-like London, at least, there was Amala and Ewedu to unfreeze my brain from reverse-mode.

I picked up my bag, and began my London waka

(To be continued… one day)



Bima is a guest writer on MMBM, and remains a former palm-wine tapper.

If you'd love to read more of her batty real-life stories, follow this blog. You'll get notified - right from the comfort of your toilet-seat - when next she posts. 

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6 comments

  1. Very nice Bimbo.....no be today you begin write epistle...love the touch of humour. Waiting patiently on my toilet seat for the next notification :)

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    1. Hi. You can follow the blog, and get notified of our awesome posts. Thanks!

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  2. Omg, I laughed all through this story.

    "Oh, it’s ok. No biggie” (your father, your uncle, and all the rest)"

    "(Kuku hang me on the wing of the plane.)"

    Hihihihihihihihihihi...

    I really enjoyed this story. I can't wait for more. Thank God your blog is part of my Blog list na so when I see Bima laidis, I am jumping on. Kikikikikikikiki. I like the way she writes, so hilarious.

    www.estheradeniyi.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. Lool. Bimbo is hilarious. I love how she tells the story. I can't wait for the remain parts of her holiday story.

    ReplyDelete