I didn’t even know how to react. I didn’t even have the opportunity to. Other late boarders pushed me aside so they could show their own boarding passes. Then Nena called, I managed to explain to her how I had fought my way and made it in the nick of time just to find out I didn’t have my boarding pass with me. She was too stunned to react. Taye immediately took the phone and calmed her down just to prevent a serious bridezilla moment from taking place.
“Aisha, I’m so sorry for all the stress,” he soothed. “Don’t worry, we’ll name one of our kids after you.”
I figured that was good payment for my labour of love. It must have been at this moment that the terrible idea entered his head, because the next thing I heard was, “I don’t really know any transport companies that’ll have buses going to Kaduna at this time but…Alex just told me he was going to drive down.”
Before I could even reply, my mind had gone from “This Taye boy must be mad. He wants to put you in the same car with that psycho for thirteen hours!” to “But even though Alex is probably not well, you’ve always had a crush on him. Doesn’t that make you slightly insane as well?”
Luckily, the sensible part of me got to speak first. “Taye, not in a million years… Not when pigs fly, not even when Mama Joy learns to sweep. Never!”
I could hear him laughing now; I hoped for his sake that it was a joke. How could he even ask me to survive a thirteen-hour journey with Alex! The same person that glued the clothes on his back to the building of his secondary school with super glue to prevent the bulldozers from tearing it down. Nenadi and I had already established that he must have left a sizeable part of his common sense at Customs when he was coming back into Nigeria after getting his University education in Manchester. We had been classmates since Secondary School and we always had this crush on each other, but no kind of crush would make me overlook the fact that he sometimes acted like things were controlling him.
Nena took the phone back and started to plead and promise the heavens and the earth if I would just drive down with Alex. “Aisha, please now. You know I would never allow this but I beg you. I feel guilty for making you miss the flight. You don’t even have to talk to him, but you know he’s not always psycho. Taye even said he’s a lot cooler now and he’s always been funny so it might even be fun.”
How could these people be telling me he was cooler? The fact that he hadn’t even started his half-a-day journey said otherwise. But I knew I couldn’t say no. “Tell Taye that for this,” I said, “I will name your first two children. And you know I have a thing for the name Boniface.”
Nena laughed gaily and said Taye would call Alex and have him pick me up. They were about to take off and so they promised to call immediately they landed.
It was amazing how my day had just taken a turn I would never have seen coming. I had driven through Lagos like a bat out of hell and still missed my flight. And now I was about to embark on the longest road trip of my life with my longtime crush/psycho. I took a cab home and waited for Alex to come by, so we could get going. It was about 1:00pm before I heard a horn at the gate. My luggage had already gone with Aisha and Taye so all I really needed to get to Kano with where the shoes and my sanity.
I got outside and saw Alex in the car. He’d gotten himself a nice looking Mercedes. What was it he did again? I really had no idea. He looked good. He always had. He was the image that came to mind whenever someone said, “tall, dark and handsome.” If I could explain why I had a crush on him, that would probably be at the top of the list. Luckily, he didn’t seem to be advocating for any insane causes or exhibiting insane characteristics at the moment.
He came out of the car and reached for a hug. “Hey Aisha, it’s definitely been a while.”
It was going well so far, but my heels were still prepared for any sudden manifestations. “Yeah, Alex. It has. How have you been? And why exactly are you driving to a wedding that’s thirteen hours away?”
He let out a little laugh as he opened the passenger door for me. “Get in. We’ll talk on the way.” And thus the most unbelievable road trip began.
We had driven for about two hours and I was starving. You know that level of starvation when your stomach begins to make incomprehensible noises and you begin to feel the hunger jabs forming… I had passed that level an hour ago. I told Alex I was hungry and we needed to stop for food. He said we had barely started the journey and any stop would slow us down. This only calmed me down for about twenty minutes after which I was complaining again. It may be important at this point to mention that I am not the most pleasant person to be around when I’m hungry. I complain and whine and nag like a baby on breast milk. And believe me, I’ve tried but it really can’t be helped.
So I gave Alex a little taste of this. Before long, he was miserable. “Look Aisha, there are no restaurants around here. You’re distracting me with all your whining.”
I complained until I slept. I woke up after what felt like thirty minutes of sleep. Alex had parked the car and was talking to someone outside. I was still too asleep to know where I was but I saw that there were a lot of trees and shrubs around the car. I saw Alex standing a few feet away, talking to someone clad in a wrapper, surrounded by some funny looking things lying around. A blood stained cutlass… a couple of calabashes… a reddish cloth… An animal?
Was this what I thought it was? Was this Alex’s first manifestation of the journey?
Written by Nky Otike-Odibi, tweets @Nky_Otk and blogs at legalwatchmen.blogspot.com