I woke that morning to watch the sun rise as I had done every day since the first day; the day of the nightmare. Like every day since then, its slow climb awed me. I watched the first orange rays steal light across night’s dark skies; then the unraveling of the heat orb as night gave way to day. It was not yet 6 a.m but, as I had noted since that first morning, the sun was always in a hurry to rise in Jigawa State.
I was sitting on the ledge of the balcony; left leg raised to form a regular triangle on the ledge, and right leg dangling off it. My back was straight against the cream coloured side wall; it had become my favoured a.m. pose since I had observed that none of the impassive rocks, random goats, and tweeting birds (my usual companions at the break of dawn) were scandalized by the jumper top and bum shorts I wore in the mornings.
My first cup of coffee for the day was in my left hand, while the index finger of my right hand idly dipped in to stir occasionally; I was yet to buy a spoon. After each stir, I raised the finger to my mouth and licked the coffee off it, much like I would a popsicle; except slower, more contemplatively, less greedily.
I was savoring the taste of coffee on my tongue, the slow wakening of caffeine in my blood, the shy sunlight’s kiss on my skin. It was the third morning of birdsongs, the third morning of magnificent rocks in front of my balcony… the third day of mad-ass work while the sun gloried in its alias as ‘Heat Supreme’.
“What the Fuck?!”
I usually mutter that question when in public places. You know, in the name of politeness, civility, and all. That day though, I think I was praying to the god of fucks, asking him to give the cab driver some fucks so he could in turn give me. I had been standing in the sun for over thirty minutes, waiting for passengers to fill up the cab going to Gagarawa Tasha. Much to my dismay, the only thing that got filled up after thirty minutes was my clothes… with my sweat! No one, not one person, had stopped by to inquire if there was transportation to Gagarawa Tasha, let alone actually board the cab. I had been standing outside because I calculated that it would be more airy (despite the fact that the air was hot and dry) than the inside of the cab- it was parked under the sun in the garage, and the sun was blazing some fierce hotness. A sudden notification on my phone had however made me imagine that the indirect heat of the cab was probably better than the direct rays of sunlight:
Temperature too hot; please remove battery.
I swear, that actually happened. I had stared at the message, bewildered. It was the first of its kind I had ever seen in 13 years, 7 phones, and 5 manufacturers of mobile experience. For one moment I wished I had had enough time to study my phone enough to know how to take a screen shot, then I had realized that if a phone was complaining, I was probably on the way to a fainting spell myself. That was how I made the mistake that got me swearing; sorry, praying to the god of fucks.
I went and sat in the cab.
Doesn’t sound like what-the-fuck material, right? Well, it was; because soon as I sat, I felt wetness soak my pants, and the odour of urine assail my nostrils. I had sat on pee. Some pee that had been left in the cab since God-knows-when by God-knows-who. And that was when I swore. I felt tears fill my eyes as I flew out of the cab, and wondered how the hell I was supposed to supervise field officers gathering data whilst smelling like pee. Somewhere in my head, that naughty voice chirped:
“you mean we wasted today’s perfume?”
The air was still hot, an hour charge had resuscitated my phone’s battery, and I was tired of waiting for my stroll. I had had the kind of day that required a long stroll to nowhere, loud music via headphones, a swinging drink, and the sight of the sun as it set behind sand dunes and coconut trees. I walked out of the hotel with music in my ears, winking at the admirers I had gathered in my short stay as I watched their mouths and bodies move in greet-like motions; I wasn’t in the mood to pause the music, even for the briefest seconds. I smiled as I saw the scenery that stretched before me; every evening since Monday it had made me smile. Towering grey rocks against green leaves of tall trees, coloured rooftops against the blue sky, brown sands against green shrubs with red flowers…. I paused for a minute, closed my eyes, exhaled, and smiled with the knowledge that I was going to open my eyes to one of the most beautiful sights ever once again.
Some distance away they cycled past me; four young males dressed in house clothes, laughing and teasing while they raced for the heels. I took off my headphones to listen to the sounds of their laughter. They reminded me of cycling the streets of Festac; falling and laughing, watching my younger brother cycle full speed and fearless up and down the street, my elder cousin sitting behind me, his legs cycling, and his hands on mine guiding the bicycle till we all laughed, the sun on our faces.
I smiled, thought:
Home is where our memories are.