By Ikenna Amadi
I could feel the screeching sound of the plane tyres, sudden lightness of my body and sonorous voice of the flight hostess, reminding us that we had taken off.
My heart leapt with joy as butterflies danced in my tummy, with the realisation that I was set to keep a promise. My destination renewed my hopes, that I was geared for a reunion, with my heart throwing away doubts of the pregnant tomorrow.
I looked beside me, the whole passengers were all caught up with one activity or the other, majority were chatting, while a family caught my attention. The cuteness of a family was mirrored by them, and a smile cropped my face. While I looked at the mirror, I could see the sea lines, all looking beautiful, houses dwarfed by distance, and then a tap on my laps, caught my attention.
” Hey, what’s the name”
I looked beside me, surprised that I didn’t notice her presence all through the trip midway, there she was, with her blonde hair, ebony skin well refined like ivory, heart shaped face and brown eyes that reminded me of Helen.
” Ikenna. You?” She smiled.
” You are Igbo. well, I am Falidat. What’s popping in Abuja?”
That moment, I sieved out her questions and focused on her assertion of my Igbo origin.
“Do you have a problem with Igbo people?”
Her dreamy face dimmed a bit, with a forced smile on her face.
“No, I just grew up seeing you people differently. Don’t ask me why, please. ”
I could feel the boiling urge to start a conversation with her, but reality dawned. There was no point flogging an issue that has been a plague in our dear nation, least of all, on air, in a plane where there were no rules.
Falidat noticed my curious face. Then she smiled again. ” Ikenna….”
The way she pronounced my name, with her thick Fulani accent made my heart melt. The tonal pattern sounded like a Nightingale singing my name.
“…. I am sorry. I mean no offense. I have no Igbo friend. where I come from, I was trained to see Igbo people differently.”
That was the melting point. I shifted, looked at her deeply, I could see the innocence, but the archaic mindset of her foundation made me feel immense pity for her.
“Are we still in Nigeria?” I asked.
She took that question as a joke. ” Of course, we are.”
“Did you grow up in Nigeria?” I probed.
” Yes. In Abuja.”
I looked at her deeply, it was January, and I had a pressing issue in Abuja to flog my mind, but here I was, star crossed with a young lady, who reminded me of my dear country. I could see the innocence in her eyes, from her nuances, I could deduce her status.
“Falidat, I am a Nigerian like you and we are one.” I tried to shield my utter disgust at our failing system, which has bred tribalism and nepotism, Falidat was a product.
I held her hand fondly, took off my seat belt, just to get close. I boldly looked at her deeply, she melted.
“Can we be friends at least, so I change your mindset about Igbo people?” She looked at me, unsure of my request.
“For the now” she softly said. I could see tension building, while we trudged the sky, then reality dawned. There are so many Falidats in Nigeria.