He sat at the train station for two hours waiting for the next train to arrive. It was raining and the roof was leaking, he perched like a vulture at the corner of the station where the rain drops were not heavy. He thought about his village, his grandmother Lulu and the whole drama that had taken place lately.
Professor Cranberry, a tall, slim British professor visited the village fifty years ago, he met three boys at the river bank struggling to wash without detergent. Out of pity, he offered them a bar of detergent, amazed at the foaming adventure, the boys ran into the village to spread the news.
The professor was accepted by the people, he was given a house in the small town, he taught them his language and the British way of living. Ten years later, he decided to go back to Britain with the three boys he met at the river bank.
Asala was one of the boys, he did not want to go because of his lover Vivi, but he also wanted to visit the white man’s land to confirm the stories he heard about it; so he accepted to go. Unknown to him, Vivi was pregnant before he left. Vivi gave birth to a son, Nuli. At the age of twenty, Vivi married a wife for Nuli, she conceived and bore him a son, when the boy was two, Nuli left in search of his father, Asala. Takadino, the little boy became inquisitive as he grew, when Vivo could not bear it again, she told her grandson the whole story. At the age of eighteen, Takadino went in search of his father and grandfather, he didn’t know where to find them, but he believed if he could get to Britain, then he will definitely find his father.
Finally, the train arrived, Takadino sat close to the window, the train was old and some part of the train had gone rusty. He counted the trees one after the other, he was careful not to miss any one. Few minutes later, he slept off. After hours, the train came to a halt, people began to go down. “This must be the first stop grandma talked of” said Takadino to himself as he picked his cloth box and hurriedly went down the train.
“Please ma” Takadino called out to a lady who also came down from the train, “Please, how do I get to Boji airport?”
The lady looked at him amazed, “Were you sleeping? We have passed Boji, this is Zaria. You are in Nigeria”, the lady replied.
“Nigeria? Grandma never told me about Nigeria, please ma, how do I board a plane to Britain?” Dino asked.
The lady looked at him for a moment as if trying to understand if she was being pranked or something, then she replied “What for?”.
“In search of my father” replied Dino.
“Oh poor you” said the lady “Just walk down the road, I am new here, but probably, you will find someone to help you”.
Dino walked towards the direction the woman pointed at, he walked few miles, then he saw a group of men working in a field. He decided to ask them for direction. He walked up to one of them, a tall black young man, he should be in his late twenties, he smiled at Dino who greeted him to reveal a set of dark brown teeth. Dino introduced himself to the young man who introduced himself as Ali, they had a brief discussion, then Ali promised to help Dino find his father if only he could join him in clearing his own portion of the field. Dino accepted, he smiled with relief at the thought of meeting a messiah.
Dino went home with Ali after the work, he was so tired, he needed something to eat. Ali promised to help him change the currency to naira the next day. His compound was very big and housed a lot of extended families, Dino had never seen such communal living even in the small town he came from. Ali lived with his parents, five brothers and two sisters in a very small hut. That evening, they had a meal of Tuwo and ground nut soup. Ali gave him a calabash of nunu drink after their dinner, he had never tasted such but he loved it. He was shocked when Ali told him that the soup was made of groundnut, he only knew groundnuts were boiled, fried or roasted. He was too tired to talk, that he slept off at the corner of the room where he found space.
Sleeping in Ali’s home was like the survival of the fittest, you have to fight for a space to lie down, adapt to a particular sleeping posture, and wake up with body aches.
“Wake up” Ali tapped Dino.
“It’s morning already?” Dino asked in shock, he felt like the train was placed on top of him last night, his joints ached and he was too week to stand, “Where are we going to today?” Dino asked.
“First we have to change the money you have to naira” replied Ali.
Thirty minutes later, the two young men set out to change the money, it was an hour walk, they got to a building with “Musa Bureau de change” written on the sign post at the top of the building. They entered the building, it was dark and scary as they climbed up to the second floor. Ali greeted the young man at the counter, they spoke in Hausa. Ali signaled Dino to get the money. The boy at the counter handed twenty pieces of five hundred naira notes and a piece of two hundred naira note to them, they greeted again in Hausa. When they got downstairs, Ali claimed he forgot his cutlass upstairs and ran back to get it, while Dino waited downstairs. Upstairs, the guy at the counter gave Ali a bundle of one thousand naira notes; Ali counted it, it was hundred, he smiled, counted out twenty thousand naira and gave the guy at the counter who out of excitement shouted, “thank you” in hausa. Ali put the remaining money in his trouser pocket and hurried down with his cutlass to meet Dino.
Downstairs, Dino was struggling with some boys, Ali tried to drive them away with his cutlass but one of the boys hit Ali with the rod in his hand and they ran away with the purse where Dino had put the ten thousand, two hundred naira Ali gave to him. Ali lay unconscious on the floor, Dino called out for help. With the help of some boys, Ali was rushed to the nearby clinic where the doctor in charge confirmed him dead, the boys who had helped bring Ali to the clinic threatened Dino, accusing him of causing Ali’s death, he tried to narrate the story but no one wanted to listen to him. Dino was locked in a room, they collected his mobile phone and jacket. In the night, they released him without returning his phone and jacket.
It was dark and scary as Dino walked down the bush path, he didn’t know where to go, his bag was at Ali’s place and he did not know the way back. Even if he did, what was he going to tell Ali’s family? How was he going to deliver the news of their son’s death?