A Chance Encounter

I looked around the hotel lobby taking in the plush Victorian carpet set in typical hotel colors: gold and red with weird vintage hook designs. I huffed quietly to myself, rolling my eyes at the ceiling. This hotel-hopping was starting to annoy me. I looked around the lobby again at the usual hotel clerks dressed in black, managing to look busy and idle at the same time. Then the guests, sprawled all over the lobby, some talking quietly in groups of twos, some gathered with their families in circles laughing with each other. Are families still happy these days?

Then I saw her, of course I saw her, she was one of the few black people in that lobby. If she were faced towards me I would have thrown her a casual smile and continued my perusal, but my, was she beautiful! Decked out in African print of bright orange, red and blue with her long braids falling to the small of her back in an intricate style, she definitely stood out. Her dress was long and flattering against the deep rich tone of her dark skin, but it was very modest. Her wrists were adorned with multiple silver bracelets that matched the rings on her slender fingers and the tapered string earrings on her ears. Good gracious, I could go on! She was regally exquisite, an African queen to herself and I wasn’t the only one that noticed. Everyone was trying to steal glances at her but I just happened to be full on staring at her- without any breaks or appropriate look-aways.

Feeling brave, I left my boringly comfortable armchair and walked up to her, determining to make her my friend.

“Hi! I’m Chidinma, are you waiting to check in?” I pasted on the brightest smile I could muster.

“Hi!” She smiled back like this was some kind of toothpaste commercial “yes I am. You’re Nigerian? Me too!”

Oh…well, that changes things. I figured she must be Igbo too. Everyone knows we have the prettiest girls around

“I’m Abimbola or Abi, are you checking in too?” She said, with that beautiful smile still on her face and I discarded the Igbo theory

“Yes we are, my husband is waiting in line right now” I pointed out Abdul in the line, un-patiently waiting

“Oh really? Mine too!” She indicated to a young man three people behind Abdul “We’re the Nwosus, that’s the love of my life over there, Emeka” This time she had a grin plastered all over her face that warmed my heart. They looked like they would be quite handsome together.

I couldn’t help but gush too, so I blurted “We’re here on our honeymoon! Abdul and I”

“Oh my god!” She nearly shouted in the lobby “Really? Us too! When did you get married?”

“Two weeks ago” I boasted, proud of myself “but this is our last honeymoon stop, we thought we‘d end it in the home country”

“Nice, we got married a couple months ago though, but Emeka and I could only get this time off to go on holiday together, much needed I tell you”

We both laughed, I wanted to ask her what part of the east her husband was from, but it didn’t make much sense, I realized it didn’t matter anyway. She was pleasant enough and God knows I’d been hankering for women's conversation. Abdul was lovely and all, but there’s only so much factual information one could swallow and he was forever stuffing them down my throat. I pitied our future kids.

“So you live in Nigeria?” I asked her

“No, no, we couldn’t unfortunately. I love my country and all but it’s too complicated” my eyes widened at this “Emeka and I decided not to raise our kids here because the educational system, the medical system, the social environment, not to talk of the political opression here is stifling. Instead, we’ve decided to bring them back to see their family once in a while and also, I’m an urban developer and since I have a few projects coming this way, they can come along with me. When they come that is” she laughed

“That makes sense” I had been nodding the whole time “Abdul is from the north but his family is very educated, both women and men. My grandfather settled in the north a while ago and while he still retained his Igbo origins he knew and understood that since he was in another man’s land he had to play by their rules so through his connections and all that, my family got to meet Abdul‘s. When the uprising began though, long before Boko Haram’s public emergence, our families fled the country because they were killing educated northern families, especially ones with  educated women, muslim or not and they were also killing northern families that associated with non-Muslims and non northerners and by then Abdul and I were deeply involved. Then they were killing Igbos in droves! Even the good and honest ones like my father’s business partners and friends so we had to leave”

“Wow, you’re brave!” her face was in shock and she shook her head. Suddenly, she had this curious look on her face, “sorry if you don’t mind me asking, did you become a Muslim by marriage?”

“I have always been Muslim, even though I don’t cover my head, but even so, because my name is still Chidinma, it doesn‘t count. Makes you wonder what this is really about, religion or tribalism”

“I know how you feel, till this day, even though my name is Mrs Nwosu, because I am Yoruba by birth, there is hate towards me in the bellies of some of my husband’s people. I have no idea what I, Abimbola, personally did. I thank God that his immediate family loves me though, but every village visit is like torture for me.” She shook her head sadly

I decided to lighten up the mood, especially because I knew Abdul was wrapping up with the front desk staff

“Well Abi, let’s forget all that! We’re here in Akwa Ibom on this exclusive resort, we’re like the only black guests staying here, the true Nigerians, so we gotta represent, show ‘em how real enjoyment is done!” We fell apart in peals of laughter.

“Come, let me introduce you to Abdul, he would love to meet you and Emeka”

1 comment:

  1. Hey Tos! .. I love the story.. will there be a continuation?..
    p.s. you should pay me for the name haha jk


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