Chidinma sat in the oasis lounge of the Muritala international airport. Her flight was not till ten PM but as a typical Nigerian who arrived late for everything but a flight outside the country, she was already at the airport by 3 o’clock. The lounge was filled with so many people. She was sitting on a U shaped couch which had a similar couch in front of it with a little table in between them.
The couch in front of her was occupied by a middle age white man, he was bald and his skin awfully wrinkled, Chidinma was sure he was way younger than he looked. He was staring at his tablet which he had been doing since Chidinma got there. Everyone else in the room seemed to have someone with them because they were all conversing except for her and the baldy. He was engrossed in whatever it was he had going on his tablet that he didn’t seem to care or notice anyone else.
She decided to look around the lounge to see if she could spot a celebrity. There was a couple seated close to the entrance of the lounge. Judging by the way they were sitting so closely to each other and their facial expressions, they were having a very serious discussion. They had a lot of luggage with them, Chidinma knew Hajj was around the corner. They looked more than prepared for it. Her attention shifted to the white woman that was trying to catch a toddler.
The little girl who looked to be about two years of age was having so much fun running around and having her mother in pursuit. Finally, the toddler was caught and carried back to their seat. Chidinma admired and envied the little girl’s hair, she was really hair goals. She had been growing her natural hair for two years and it wasn’t half as long or as full as the little girl’s hair. There were also teenagers talking very loudly and most of them were dressed in the most ridiculous way possible.
Chidinma got tired of looking around, mostly because she didn’t see any celebrity. She was so bored and started to think maybe she should have waited a bit longer before coming to the airport. But she was so excited and anxious at the same time, this was her first time leaving the country and she had been feeling super excited since the day she was granted her visa. She brought out a book to read so she could kill her boredom, it was titled ‘Children of Blood and Bone’ by Tomi Adeyemi. The plan had been to start reading the book as soon as she settled on the plane. She decided that she needed something to take her mind off the jitters she was feeling. As soon as she brought out the book baldy took his eyes off his tablet.
“Children of Blood and Bone eh, is it as good as they say it is,” he asked.
Chidinma looked at him, he was English, and his voice sounded so smooth, it was nothing like the croaked frog she’d thought he would sound like.
“I heard it is better,” she replied sharply, daring him to say anything ill of the book. But he just nodded and turned his attention back to his tablet.
Chidinma studied him more; he looked like someone who had seen a great deal in this life, someone who had fought battles, perhaps a war hero. He was probably here on a peacekeeping mission or maybe he was a spy. But then, why would anyone want to spy on Nigeria. He was dressed in a plain shirt and faded jeans with brown loafers. His sense of style was horrible but he didn’t seem to care.
“You are staring,” Baldy said.
Chidinma quickly snapped out of her thoughts, she didn’t realize she was staring until her attention was brought to it.
“I am sorry, I didn’t know I was”
“It’s ok, the name is John,” Baldy said as he stretched out his hand for a handshake.
She shook his hand “I am Chidinma”
“Ah, God is beautiful indeed”
Chidinma was shocked. “How do you know what my name means”
“I come to Nigeria a lot and I have a lot of friends from different tribes, most of them Igbo” Baldy explained
“I see. So are you going back to your country?” she asked.
“No, I am going to Italy”
“Cool” Chidinma didn’t know how to continue the conversation, she wasn’t even sure she wanted it to continue so she turned her attention to the book she was reading.
“That scar, how did you get it?” Baldy asked as he pointed at a spot on her neck.
Chidinma became uncomfortable. She had chosen to wear that blouse because one of her friends sent it to her from America and she wanted to go into America wearing something from America. She usually wore shirts with high collars or turtleneck to hide the scar on her neck, but she thought no one would notice so she put on her blouse. Apparently, she was wrong because baldy here didn’t notice the heavy makeup that cost her three thousand naira or the lovely and definitely expensive Fendi shirt she was wearing, all he noticed was the scar she was insecure about.
“I can see you are not comfortable talking about it so I won’t ask again. But you should know you are beautiful and a scar should not make you feel any less,”
Chidinma gave a wry smile if only Baldy knew what he was talking about. He thought she had only one scar but she had much more, everything was carefully hidden underneath her expensive clothes. Baldy went back to his tablet and she dropped her book, unable to continue reading. She reached for the scar on her neck and gently stroked it. She remembered the day she got that scar, it was in Adamawa and there was a crisis.
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WRITTEN BY ALEXANDRA OPEYEMI