We are hitting a milestone today. Page 100. That is about half way. Here is a nice piece from Single, In Accra.
Spontaneity. It was not unusual for Philip to suddenly become friendly with total strangers. Once in while he met someone that simply had that inexplicable magical spark that connected with him. Jokes would become absolutely natural and flow flawlessly. The dialogue as it often was would spiral from one subject to another till someone or something broke it. His melancholy in private could not be reconciled with his sporadic expressions of sanguine behaviour. It was even more pronounced when the other party drove the conversion. The other party was often a lady, middle-aged, young, married, single, pretty, not-so-pretty, it didn’t matter! What mattered was the spark.
Gazelle West Africa had built a reputation for comfortable bus transport across the region. Their eight to ten-hour drives from Lagos to Accra were the viable alternative for those who had class but could not afford a flight ticket or simply wanted to enjoy the West African Coastline. Zainab had the spark. She glowed right from the time she stepped off the bus. Five foot seven. Flawless dark skin. Perfectly shaped set of teeth. When she smiled her eyes glowed and she exposed them: dazzling white. She wore a TM Shirt with thick lilac stripes. It looked quite new. She definitely looked slightly improved when compared with the picture in Philip’s memory. He previously thought he would not really be attracted to her part of his reason for letting this arrangement happen. She spotted him from afar. He was always more popular than he thought. People knew him from afar that he did not know growing up. Zainab knew him and smiled brightly.
She stepped down from the bus, dragging along her hand luggage and saying goodbye to friends she had made on the bus. Philip approached her, blushing, unable to take away the smile from his face till it became like plastic. “Oh nothing will happen” he thought to himself. Once close enough she hugged him and held on for about three seconds.
“Oh Philip. Thank you so much. It’s so good to see you”
Philip hesitated but did not want to seem archaic. He held on to her lightly and responded as much as he could. He recalled that question a friend had asked him back in secondary school: ‘why do you startle so much when a girl touches you?’. What was the answer again?
“Good to see you too… “, Philip responded after a short lag.
Zainab leaned back and smiled again. It could have disarmed a Russian soldier. Philip glanced at the yellow handbag dangling from her left arm while looking for something else to focus on asides Zainab’s face. She broke the brief silence.
“Please come help me with my big box”
Her hand slithered down his upper arm and back to her hand luggage as they both went back to the ninety-seater luxury bus. It was rowdy. Passengers were clamouring for their luggage while the bus conductors did their best to help maintain sanity. Zainab stayed an inch behind Philip pointing out her huge brown leather bag. It was out in a few minutes after just a little pushing and shoving and both walked side by side out of the park to the busy highway where Philip had parked on the covert.
The ride was very chatty. One chatty lady with one responsive man creates a chatty ride in a brand new city. Much of the conversation was about her experience with the trip and her questions about Ghana.
“… I hate sitting for long…”
“Thank God you made it then. It’s not a problem for us…”
“When I was you we used to go home every Christmas like most Igbos. The bus ride is about ten hours…”
“I have never travelled like this before. My legs ache eh… annoying”
“But I met nice people anyway… Ghanaians are nice…”
“Yes. More civil. More likely to talk to you with respect than the typical Nigerian. Or should I say the typical Lagosian… always in a hurry somewhere”
“Do you blame them?”
“But did you ever go to your home town when you were young?”
By the grace of God, launch date is January 2017. This one is beyond regular.