I’ve always loved Abuja. It has all the things I love about Lagos and less of the things I hate.
We’d always flirted around, our trysts lasting for three to five days at a time. Wild exciting nights in the capital city. My lover enticed me with her clubs, fish joints and quiet swagger and then we saw each other more as our affair blossomed, I began to memorize her roads, sight landmarks and be welcomed into the inner caucus. I was out to explore.
She dazzled me with a new lifestyle and begged me to change my perception and get a new orientation. I saw things that made me marvel. Point and kill rabbits in a garden-resort where preserving greenlife was their hallmark. The rabbits tried and found guilty of decades of grass-nibbling awaited their execution. I felt a wave of nausea as I looked at the innocent eyes of the rabbits their fates already sealed. The polo clad cannibals were justified in their protection of the grass as their own contribution towards preventing total annihilation from the depleting ozone layer and if along the way a delicious meal was thrown in, who were they to refuse.
I was amazed that instead of being sold gala and bottled coke in the well-ordered traffic, I was offered gold rings and other form of jewellry by non-Hausa, street hawkers. Our own l’il Las Vegas. ‘Madam make oga buy you this nice gold ring, I go put in one chain for you. Church dey for the next junction!’ I laughed all the way to the airport! Marriage made easy 101. Guys you are fast running out of excuses! 😉
The airport sadly is something I’ll greatly miss my trusty lover Lagos for. MM2 thanks to Wale Babalakin is all the things the Abuja airport is not. As I waited for my flight on a supposed queue being jostled by disgruntled passengers, I got serenaded by touts left, right and center and avoided eye-contact as every person who caught my eye unceremoniously demanded a tip. I switched to Oshodi mode and got it over and done with quickly enough. It was a tryst through and through, ridden with exciting tales to tell.
While sowing my wild oats, an old flame called.
Benin was one of those lovers that called you up once in a while and it was like not a day had gone by since the last time you were together. The place remained the same. I decided to go by road and Edegbe lines was the logical choice being an old faithful. It was an executive fully air-conditioned bus and the passengers were mostly students. The trip was a jolly one with fast-flowing Bini conversations blocking out the hi-life music in the background. All was well till a passenger, Mr X decided to cause chaos by farting in the enclosed air-tight bus. Now if there was any other ethnic group packed in the bus, we may have been able to downplay and possibly ignore the eroding of our nasal linings and inherent asphyxiation but not the Bini people. They cursed and squirmed and covered their noses with anything from a handky to nylon bags. They cursed his diet, his ass, his lack of bus etiquettes and his ‘shamelessness’ in fluent pidgin and then a good Samaritan thought it most helpful to spray a generous amount of perfume Y into the air-tight confines which had us all coughing and wheezing with the acrid mix of eau de fart! At Ore when we stopped to eat, the passengers warned the unknown offender to locate a toilet and not to buy any eggs or beans. Outspoken and audacious, these people were only concerned about breathing in at least 20% pure oxygen given the circumstances. The rest of the trip was uneventful. Benin embraced me, toasted me with freshly plucked chickens and banga soup. It tempted me away from the hustle and bustle of Las gidi to a more rustic lifestyle without letting go of the vibrancy of city life. I felt the sting of a soldier ants and the bite of sand-flies anew. Pidgin english was the acceptable lingo with a lilt that was entirely theirs. But an old flame is an old flame and soon our time was up. My heart longed for Lagos and away I went.
The dude loading the travelling bags on the bus threatened to mark my face and treat my f**k up cos I refused to tip him after being over-charged for my trip. He hadn’t treated it there and then because several passengers had within earshot warned me to ignore him. I laughed, little did he know that Benin was just a classic case of ‘Okafor’s law’. We’d been lovers once, years ago when I was a kid and my dad made me spend a greater part of my summer holidays in Benin with my dear uncle and an opportunity had arisen to renew the warmth of this old flame but that being done, it was time to let bygones be bygones. I had gotten closure. He could do me no harm even if he tried though I did hope I didn’t have a look-alike in Benin.
As I returned to Lagos, I felt the familiar stirring of my heart as I looked upon my home but something was amiss. Abuja had made an offer I couldn’t refuse. She wanted to be more than friends with benefits. She had me sprung with a hint of a future I’d only imagined. So I kissed Lagos goodbye and hopped on a plane with a one-way ticket to the arms of a casual lover offering a more meaningful relationship.
My welcome party started at Cubana with Tuface Idibia in the house. It was an after-wedding party and a wonderful way to baptize me into the Abuja crowd.
I was armed with all of my Lagos swagger and was secretly impressed at how calm people were. In Lagos, if a celeb hit an excusive club, at least one ‘bros’ could be bet on to go over-board and need restraint from the unsmiling bodyguards but not here. Tuface hugged and shook everyone in a genial manner, ordered Moet on the house and settled down on the couch opposite me, grinning from ear to ear. The DJ too was on-point. Instead of indulging in hero-worship and putting away his mix-tapes to play Tuface’s latest album back to back, he played some fat oldies which got everyone dancing to a fevered pitch. I couldn’t understand why some of the girls with their over-priced brazilian hair would wear slippers akin to flip-flops to club, I reckoned they must be Brazilian too. 🙂
Today I’m off to Kaduna with a health guru, an entrepeneur and an international strategist to look at a site for a world-class facility and I smile to myself…Life has only begun and Abuja has stolen my heart!
Have a great sunday people…xoxo