The moment spiff crossed the borders of the automated door, pushing the gush of comfort perfectly blended into that intensely air-conditioned hall, he realized he was far from home, from that unrelenting sticky heat, from those fan blades that staggard superfluously, most of all, from the torments of witchcraft.
He observed a little while, but smartly, not to be singled out as one with a lost visage, a first timer. He opened up his ears, slightly more, not to be confused by those blaring, blurred femine voices that filled the cold air.
‘Arik air’. It was written in a dimly lit navy blue and a headless bird painted beside it with wings askew, in front of a woman wearing a brown hair, with a sharply carved nose and a skin the colour of a just perfectly ripe orange. A queue trailed her; all pasengers. You would almost always tell by the unsettled looks that flushed their faces, like termites pushed into the rain.
Spiff walked forward and queued behind the last man, a fourty-something bololo headed man; deserted of hair, like the surface of a smooth ceramics. The man was also round eyed, with a soothing smell and a large bump budding out from his dark coloured scruff. He had his skin all covered with a red turtle-necked polo and a black pencil legged jean falling unto the shiny black blutchers. He had poured an excess of whatever perfume he wore, yet it drenched Spiff’s nostrils with a sheer delight. Spiff shoved his head, mildly across the shoulder of the man, straining his eyes, so that they bloated like a soccer ball, over pumped.
‘Good afternoon’. Spiff greeted the man who had turned because he noticed a figure and a tickling over his shoulder. The man nodded mildly and hushed inaudible words from the back of his lips. He turned away with a lofty look, pumping his cheeks.
Spiff got hold of what he wanted to see, just anything that will keep him on the right track. He saw the green passport and a little card painted in white and a wavy blue sitting on a perfect red; the travel ticket, carefully pushed into the palms of the man. He dropped his bag, groped through the inside of the mini-sized dark incolac bag and brought out his passport and ticket.
He then felt home, this time home in the diaspora. Because at home there is only heat. The scares all melted, like stars rolling into the morning. The scares of missing his flight. The scares of putting a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity into a little canoe and let it go adrift in a swelling sea. His eyes wandered through the hall, and each turn buoyed bumps just underneath his throat, the feeling of gratefulness to God and joy poured into one glass cup.
‘So this is the Murtal Mohammed International Airport!’ He rubbed his lips against each other discretely, so that no sound was made. He looked at the rolling stairs and struggled to bury his amazement. The noise; dragging of bags, the woman in the microphone, the non-stop movements, girls pressing their lush fronts exuberantly against boys, the ambience, and the smell that continually stroll through his nostrils, all buoyed him with one feeling. A feeling he never had, even in his dreams.
Spiff kept an eye on the man, to check which way he takes, the bololo headed man, as he drew towards the brown-haired woman, sitting behind the counter.
‘Good morning, can I have your ticket and passport please”. The young brown-haired woman poured her voice, flawless, and a smile, the splendour of a white peacock. De javu. The feeling rushed through him and for a moment he had to run a quick scan through his memory. There was nothing. It was that feeling. The desire to identify with the beautiful ones. The ones you see behind screens and you see yourself walking right through the screen, because they are always spotless, until you see them in real life, unpainted, then plain.
After he was checked in, he turned towards the way bololo head took. He got to the stairs, observed a few feet, grabbed the railing with his palm, then allowed the stairs to drive him up.
The foyer drenched him with yet another strange feeling; an aura rolling down his head and tearing his dark, thick lips apart. He looked through the glass. The sight of the monsterous planes reeling their wheels along the runway and flaunting their giant wings mechanically, took him farther away from home, away from rowing canoes along small rivers, away from hardluck after a first degree, believed to be the work of sheer witchcraft.
He sighted bololo head, bent into a newspaper. That man was not supposed to be reading a newspaper. He was supposed to be fondling his phone and exuding sparse smiles cheapishly. It is what people that wore that kind of look does. The glittering silvers pinned to both earlobes.
“There is something about this man. There should be a reason I have not lost him”. Spiff spoke in his mind, like he had not voluntarily turned himself towards the man. He walked towards the man, then slid into the empty chair by the side of the man.
“Are you travelling to the UK? Sir”. Spiff rolled his tongue to mimmick a british accent. He ended up sounding like a caricature of a local Nigerian boy trying to be nice to a new expatriate. Bololo head loosed himself from the newspaper, observed the tender grin that drew paths along Spiff’s mouth and the naive look that turned his face into a terrain of little gauntly hills, then dropped his answer, “Yes. Who are you”, in a polite manner.
Spiff turned himself into an object, the object of a modest discourse. He riveted bololo head. An interest stood out, like smokes running through the roof of a little town. Spiff was travelling to start his Masters of science in epideomology in Coventry. Bololo head was a professor of Epideomology in Coventry. De javu. Another one. Spiff let his brain whirl, like drapperies dancing in the wind, uncertainty taking the lead. Finally he deserted the struggle. He framed a dream and dropped bololo head right beside him in a discussion, like a puppet.
But he would dig in more, more about bololo head. He was persuaded that there is an occult rope that fastened him to this man.
Then Spiff’s phone rang. Soft rustling of string-like tones and mild vibrations sent miniature spikes through his leg. He brought out the phone hurriedly, swiped his index across the face of the techno android H7. The name Diette ran along, dropping into the corner. It was his elder brother.
The news stunned him, trafficked him into nowhere, and carefully dumped him into a dilemma, like lost voices in a nameless boulevard. His father just passed away. Spiff was home, save his scraggy, bamboo-like flesh, feeling taunted and finally defeated by the well feared and venerated ones, the witches and wizards.
He managed to tell bololo head what had happened. Sympathies relayed. He turned to go, back through the foyer. It was his resolution; a pathetic and licked one. Bololo head handed him a note as he walked away. Reclaimed his luggage. Then lodged himself into the open, just in front of the Airport. Warm air taunted his face and the scorching heat ran over him, like a foetus housed within the walls of a uterus. He wasn’t borthered nonetheless.
“All hail the witches and the wizards”. He said and let out a deep sigh. Then he unfolded the note bololo head handed him and ran through the letters. “Let the dead burry their own dead”. He read it aloud. Then again. Then let his bag slip out of his hand. Then he raised his eyes to the engraved letters on the face of the Airport building- MURTALA MOHAMMED INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT.
A gentle breeze slapped his face from one side. Then the sound of yellow taxi horns hurried into his ears. And so he stood akimbo.