I am worried that my village would be a changed place when I return. It’s been a while since I left and I wonder what changed.
I daydreamed on the bus as it sped down the hill. Palm trees crawled past, I lost count. The clouds seem to change with each turn but the evening was far away. At a junction, there was a hold-up and traffic got congested. I saw hawkers display their wares on the tarred roads. Men, women, girls and boys, all hustling to make ends meet. By the side of the junction, some security men stood looking. The hot sun shining upon their faces. I saw a couple of them holding handkerchiefs, sighing into thin air and attempting to wipe the dripping sweat off. I was distracted by a girl of about 14 years who walked past my window side.
“Plantain. Plantain. Buy fried plantain.” She said. Her voice was like a singer and I bet she could sing. She pronounced plantain as planting. If I hadn’t seen her tray, full of fried yellow plantain I could swear she was selling something else. She held her tray firmly and her unkempt hair was tied in a ponytail. She was unsmiling. As I explored her face, I noticed the tribal marks on it and the mark of dried tears near her eyes. I sighed softly.
“Kei, how much for the fried plantains?”
“It’s only N100 sir.” The pretty girl who should have been in school replied. I decided to buy the snacks from her as she caught my gaze. Looking into her eyes, I got her story. Her eyes revealed everything. I couldn’t utter a word of sympathy, but I could buy her plantains at least. That’s the support I can give, for now.
“Okay, give me two, please. Thanks.”
She hurriedly put her tray on the road and got out a black nylon bag. She was about to hand me the bag when the bus started moving. She left her tray and followed the bus, running fast as her little legs could carry. When I got the bag, I threw her cash out of the window and was relieved when I saw her pick it. I said a silent goodbye and proceeded to enjoy my snack.
I miss my village. It’s the most delightful place on earth. It’s surrounded by hills and the streams fall from rocks. It has amazing greenery and exotic wildlife. And now the dry season will set in, it conveys a unique image. I always returned home to get the stress of town away. I wake in the morning to the sound of birds, some of who are bold enough to bother my window. The flies, wasps and bees compete in a buzzing competition and the garden is a magical world of its own. I study the insects and plants that live in the garden. There is chilli, tomatoes and all manner of vegetables in my garden. Fruit trees take much space too. Altogether the garden had become my getaway paradise. Up the trees are my squirrel brothers, whom I knew since my childhood. Three guava trees flourish in front of the yard, I planted them, just that I have forgotten their nicknames. A wealth of spinach, moringa and scent leaves thrive on the front yard. The smell of life is inviting.
My cousins are my favourite entertainers, they won’t let me be. They update me with info on events that happened in my absence. I live the moment with them. We watch the spectacular sunset together. Even without my village, I can picture myself standing on the hills to see the sun travel. It’s an amazing event that I can never get used to.
Indeed, the rains had gone and the harmattan season is about to set in. It’s almost time to see people’s real faces. Sometimes I see my image on these faces and I came to understand that life is a mirror.
It’s almost that time of the year that I see the true faces of people and life.