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A World Away

I’m sitting with Ian, he’s driving. My ears are being held hostage by the radio. The song’s chorus goes; ”every time I think about you I touch myself”. Uncomfortable does not describe how I feel. Nothing does. So I do what I do best, I start to chat.

He studied Eastern European History. I don’t ask why, even though I really want to know why he chose to dedicate his future to the past of a group of people who thankfully have stolen the spotlight from Nigerians in the UK. He is Welsh, born of Welsh parents and raised on Welsh soil. I ask him what sort of career path he’ll be taking, he doesn’t know. Perhaps my question isn’t clear. So I rephrase. His answer remains unchanged.

I leave Ian in mid-sentence and mentally teleport myself to West Africa, where I arrive in the sitting room of an average Nigerian family. They’ve just finished dinner and father asks son to repeat what he just told him. Then he holds up his hand signalling to the son, to ‘hold that thought’… he calls mother  to come and hear what her son is saying. Then turns back to son;

”Oya, tell us again what you want to study at University, the university that I’ll be paying for. With my own money”.

The rest of the scene is a blur so I take my leave and return to the car, we’re nearly at our destination but there’s time to chat some more. He tells me he’ll be leaving his job in 15 days to travel to South America. I ask where- eager to add my tuppence worth. I have Brazilian roots and I’m buzzing with the newfound knowledge that my ancestors first arrived on Nigerian soil exactly 100 years before I was born. My dad is our genealogy tzar. I’m blessed.
He tells me he’ll be travelling everywhere. I probe deeper. When will he be back? Because in my world people come back when they travel- usually within two weeks, four weeks tops if you’ve gone to bury a relative who had a chieftaincy title and lived long. Any more than that they’ll consider you as having emigrated. His answer reminds me he’s not from my world; for he’ll be gone for a year, maybe even two.
He did the same thing two years ago, quit his job and went travelling. Again I ask where.

”Oh you know, the standard. India, USA, Turkey”.

Standard?

I shut the heyall up. He carries on humming to the song. I don’t make the comment that’s been slowly making its way down to my mouth from my head.

Yesterday I met another one. I needed to buy a mobile broadband dongle, she looked and sounded like she would rather be in bed. The 21-year-old proceeded to take my details.

Ms or Mrs?

Mrs.

She replied in her sleepy voice, ”oh! You’re sooo lucky!”

I decide she needs some advice. A slap upside the head. A wake up call. Kick up the backside. So I ask how long she’s worked for Carphone Warehouse. ”one year”, she manages to offer. As though an additional word would send her over the edge and into Alice’s wonderland, which is precisely where she doesn’t want to go- in my opinion she’s halfway there.

So what do you plan on doing? I’m sure you don’t want to work for Carphone Warehouse forever?

No, I want to travel. Afterwards I want to finish my final year of degree.

Oh that’s nice! Where are you off to?

Australia.

What’s your degree course in?

Criminal psychology.

Sounds exciting!

Everybody says that.

She drags out ‘everybody’ so much so that the poor thing is unwillingly turned into a seven syllable word. I pay for my dongle, and as I leave, I wish her well on her travels.
Oh it’s not for a while, I have to save first. I don’t even know when I’m going.

I start to tell her where the nearest Starbucks is, so she can grab a coffee. then I change my mind. It’s only 10am. I don’t need this. Besides they may not drink coffee in her world.

Joanne says I attract odd people. Like those gypsies. Did I share about the day they came to the office? And puked in the toilet? It was no small matter. Another day! Now you have to come back!

Thank you for reading!

Toks Goes to The West Country (Actually Beyond)

So there I sat on the coach. I arrived at the station in the nick of time and the only seats available were towards the back, a few rows away from the bathroom. I scanned the area and quickly noticed that it was packed with students which was little wonder as my destination was a university town. I looked forward to 3 1/2 hours of uninterrupted reading. I’m excited about my book. The front cover has a handsome man and a pretty woman, they make a great couple. I think it’ll be a good book. The story line seems good. It was then I noticed him:

The coach is full of students but why is there an older, bearded gentleman on it?  He is Asian and fits “The Profile”. I start to get nervous as he gets up for the umpteenth time to use the bathroom. Why on earth do you need the bathroom so early, we only just left. He is wearing a long puffer jacket, at first I wonder why he has to be the only one wearing a long coat, then I notice we are all wearing one but then everyone’s is short. Okay mine is long but no, it isn’t puffed. I start to type texts to dear friends and family to inform them of my impending demise. I type faster as I noticed another man a couple of rows in front staring suspiciously at the bearded man as he returns to his seat. The minute this man sits down a younger Asian man gets up and goes to the bathroom. Five Minutes later I turn to look at the bathroom to see if smoke has started bellowing out from beneath the door. It hasn’t- yet. In the meantime I start to wonder what role I’ll play. I would like to be the hero. The one who tackled him to the ground. Or the one who was bold enough to voice her suspicions to the coach driver, but not the mug who blew a false alarm now labelled racist or Islamist (that’s what it should be called).

I try to settle into my book. It is promising, but too many characters are being introduced and in rapid succession. I think the author should not have used names that are too similar like Melba and Shelby, it’s a struggle to keep up and I hope it’s a good read. It’s all I have with me- reading Success Magazine(which I brought for back-up) sometimes gives me the feeling of being at work.

Would I sell my story to The Sunday Times? Of course, I have no plans to die (not that you plan these things- except you favor euthanasia). I wonder how much they’ll pay as the hero who stopped the bomb from going off?  But what if I don’t make it? I’m jolted back to reality as a smartly dressed man with red hair rushes towards the bathroom. He doesn’t make it and pukes right in front of the door. Ugh!! He finishes puking and stands upright looking around like a complete idiot. About now everyone is busy covering their noses. I fight the urge to tell him he needs to wipe a bit of puke stuck to his goatee. And I win, urge slowly retreats. The guy now has to walk the length of the coach to “report” himself to the driver. Wine is indeed a mocker. He says to you; “here, just a little more, so what if you get drunk? (moron)”

We make an unscheduled stop at a bus garage to have the coach cleaned. It was at this point that I had nothing but praise for the British Transport system. I remember years ago when my cousin Gbemi and I had to walk miles back home from Hyde Park. It was new year’s eve (I think) and buses were few and far between. We finally caught bus 32, only to have an inebriated passenger spill out the contents of his stomach. We were all bundled off the bus and told the bus was “no longer in service” and we walked all the way home.

As I get back in line to get back on the coach, I silently pray that I don’t end up near the bathroom or near the drunk. I think everyone is praying along with me- for their own sakes. Thankfully I don’t. But I end up right behind the younger Asian man who was in the bathroom for 10 minutes. He starts talking excitedly to the young lady beside him. I hear Jesus Christ. I hear Church. Before long I realise he is sharing the gospel of our Lord Jesus with her.

I look at my book, and now know where the adage comes from…

Thank you for reading, do come back!