A month after the April Kano crisis, we had gathered that the military had angered the Boko haram and killing women and children was the only way they could retaliate. The barrack looked quiet and deserted, like no one had lived there before; I could count how many people were left behind. With Aunt Engee gone and many other people I knew, including my friends in school, life meant nothing to me anymore.
We were the survivors, if we had followed the crowd to escape from the barracks, we would have been long buried. We had to start all over again, feeding from hand to mouth, I wrote letters to the rest of Papa’s siblings but never got a reply; I wanted Aunt Engee to be buried like a proper Christian at least, even though her body was never found.
Miebaka: “Are you still thinking about her? we have to move on, we will be fine”
Those were the words he used to console me anytime he saw me staring at her pictures
We got talking about our future one day, and he told me his plans
Miebaka: “I have been thinking, this chiffon business is no longer booming, people have relocated, all these local people cannot afford to buy the material. I think we should relocate. With the little money I have, we can go to Lagos and start something; there are a lot of opportunities there”
Me: “I know, but how much will we be able to make to pay for my fees?…with feeding and accommodation aside”
He heaved and then showed me a list of the plan he had drafted, it seemed reasonable so we decided to leave Kano for Lagos the next weekend. Both of us had never been to Lagos before, but we prepared our minds for the worst; we had only few belongings we could take, I made sure I took some of Aunt Engee’s pictures- I never wanted to forget her.
The day we decided to travel to Lagos came, but we had woken up too late; they told us at the park that we would have to return very early the next day as the only bus to Lagos had gone. We got back home, disappointed and promised to wake up early enough the next day. In his words, one of the drivers we met at the park had said “Lagos journey no be small tin o…two days you never reach sef”, we were ready to travel anywhere so long it would take us to our greener pasture.
The night was so short, Miebaka woke me up as early as 4:00am, he had said we should only brush our teeth and not bathe because of the cold weather outside. He told me it was going to be a very long journey and he did not want me to travel sick; he knew it would not take minutes before I begin to catch cold. Making sure I wore my cardigan and two jackets, he grabbed our two Ghana Must Go bags, said a little prayer and looked at me
Miebaka: “I stand before you today, making a vow that no matter what happens out there I will always be on your side. I promise you my love” he hugged me and opened the door
I followed him, jogging in the cold and licking my cracked lips; I had never experienced such harmattan before. He looked back and saw me shivering and struggling behind, trying to catch up with him; he was walking just like Papa
Miebaka: “We have to walk very fast so we can get to the junction. I can’t even see any
Okada from here, are you ok?” he looked at me as I gnashed my teeth
“Come here, this would make you feel better” he walked to me, placed his hands behind my head and kissed me, then smiled
He knew me too well, his mouth was warm and soothing, it worked like magic, my heart beat faster and I began to sweat in my palms
“You see, that’s the magic baby” he teased and held my hand, forcing me to walk fast
After squeezing on an ‘aboki’ motorcycle, we finally got to the park. We were asked to line up, I was still cold; I could see that he was cold too, but he was trying to be a man…I laughed within me.
“Oshodi! Lagos! Oshodi last bus stop…Once chance o” the conductor shouted, then turned to me and winked
I hissed and looked away.
“ Wetin you dey look? Your husband dey here, you dey admire fine boy, na wa for you o”
At first I did not notice he was referring to me until he repeated it a second time pointing at me
Me: “I don’t have your time, agbero like you” I said and saw Miebaka giving me the “keep quiet” look
From behind, was a group of school girls and a middle aged Yoruba woman speaking English fluently. The woman tapped me and smiled
Woman: “Don’t mind them, that’s how they behave after smoking that their thing”
Me: “I won’t even respond again, thank you ma” I smiled back
Woman: “Are you travelling for business or pleyor?” she asked, I smiled at her accent
I was about to reply when Miebaka called me to get on the bus so we could sit comfortably. I saw the woman finding her way towards my direction; Miebaka was by my left and the woman right. The bus got filled and like slaves being shipped from Africa, we sat so close to one another; there was no space to even stretch one’s hands. And this was going to be a long journey o! I thought to myself.
We had gone past Kano state, the weather was becoming more favourable, I removed one of the jackets and gave to Miebaka; we had not spoken since the journey started- maybe he was angry that I replied the conductor, I thought. He folded the jacket and placed it between his legs
Woman: “How long have you people been married?” she smiled at me, struggling to place her face directly opposite mine
Me: “We are not married o…we…” my words were swallowed as Miebaka hit me hard with his elbow
Woman: “Oh, is he your brother?” she asked but I did not reply, for fear of being hit again by Miebaka
“Nevermind my dear, I understand now” she smiled again
This woman seemed nice, I thought to myself, then why was Miebaka acting so strange. It was going to be a two-day journey, I did not want to be bored. I told myself I would avoid his distractions and continue to communicate with the nice lady, after all, nobody knew where help would come from.
Me: “Madam, my name is Shiber. Are those your kids?” I used my chin to point at the three school girls
Woman: “Nooo they are my nieces. I am Hajiya Badmus. Where in Lagos are you going to. It seems like this is your first time”
Me: “How did you know. I really don’t know where exactly we are going to, we decided to relocate because of the Kano crisis, you know how many lives were lost…”
Hajiya Badmus and I blended so quickly; she told me about her businesses and how her company and staff were burned to ashes during the crisis, her struggles as a single mother, her experiences in the northern part of Nigeria and how she was planning to open a new office in Lagos. She had asked me to join her in her new branch, I pleaded that Miebaka join as a staff too, but she said her company was all about “women empowerment”…my joy knew no bounds, I sang my praises without caring whether I was disturbing other passengers.
We did not just spend two days on the road, we spent three good days, stopping at unknown villages. Hajiya Badmus had paid for our expenses; from food to drinks. It looked like Miebaka was not happy with the arrangement but he had no choice. The fact that I knew there was a job waiting for me in Lagos made me happy; I thanked Papa and Mama for bringing me a helper.
To be continued!
Is it a wise decision for Miebaka and Shiber to leave Kano? Is the help offered by Hajiya Badmus genuine?
Should Shiber accept the job?
What now awaits them in Lagos?.