Every time an airport official had to point that Ebola-screening machine to my forehead I prayed to God by all His sweet names that the vengeful cough did not strike me ruthlessly and unexpectedly again – just because I did the humane thing two days before by using half a gigantic can of (a very potent) insecticide to kill a cockroach, instead of squashing it against my floor with a shoe. I could have swung that shoe with such malicious force that would stun a cow.
I shuddered at the horrible accompanying visual.
Cock-roaches were not my favourite things. At all. Even though I was convinced I had done a humane thing, the consequence of being in such close proximity to the gaseous emission that had finally killed the roach after some ten-odd minutes (it was a hard insect to kill- that one), meant that I had inhaled some of the poison, which had somehow robbed me of my voice and left me with a sore-throat that came with its other principality- a rumbling cough. The only good thing about that was that it came without a fever/head-ache.
It was not a good time to be asked any questions at the airport, I reckoned- and kept my face passive and my stance regal as my temperature was taken.
Click-click the machine went, and 35.9oC was scribbled on my health form after inspection of my yellow-fever card. I was given a safe Ebola-free bill of health, and off I was to discover Tanzania and indeed, Zanzibar. That little island was to be my home for the next several weeks.
Why not? It is not uncommon for an artist to have an adventurous spirit, and I just go with my flow. Work-work-work, save, put your house in order, pick a destination and off you go- until you return to the grind. I simply decided it was time to leave the city of my birth and explore another land. The choices were limited; it was January after all, so Europe and the Americas were out of it. I hadn’t toured Asia/Middle East yet, and Australia seemed oh-so-far-away to me. For some reason Madagascar seemed synonymous to supernatural penguins, so I settled on Zanzibar.
Pulling myself back from my musings, I settled in for a good enough time on the plane – in spite of that one wailing infant and the bland potato meal that was sprawled on that which was called the food-tray. It was offered to me by a smiling air-hostess. No-I-don’t-want-wine-either-thank-you-very-much. I smiled back at her and shook my head from side to side. Peeping at my neighbour’s tray convinced me that I wasn’t missing much. From what I could see (from the veins on his forehead) as he tried to swallow a bite of bread, it looked as dehydrated as the bread the Israelites must have taken to the desert while fleeing the wrath of the Egyptians.
I no chop abeg. I simply decided to open my laptop to watch the SCI-FI Series Defiance when the wicked cough gripped me unexpectedly…
Yikes! This one could not be silenced, I jeje-ly doubled over and tried to cough with dignity. All I got for my effort was a heady-blood rush and stingy tears to my eyes. After the retching-cough episode, I peeked hesitantly through the strands of my weave (now covering my face) to see if I had attracted more attention than was worth for my trouble (of bothering to annihilate that insect). Walahi, If I had known that ‘fleeting’ that cockroach would cost me my voice, I would just as happily have smashed it – with a shoe.
But it was too late to regret the past.I looked around me and saw that I had indeed attracted the attention and alacrity of a middle aged European woman who had her reading-glasses perched on her nose, and was staring at me from across the aisle like I was a plague. She looked about ready to jump up and march straight to the cock-pit and report me to the pilots and Air-Marshall as a possible bio-hazardous threat.
I in turn did the next best thing- I looked at her and exaggerated my chest-clutching moves as I finished coughing my cough. (Mouth covered of course) And then I opened a pack of Strepsils and popped a lozenge into my mouth and then smiled at her oh-so-sweetly.
She ignored me after that.
And that was how I got to Zanzibar, easy-peasy. Though I was among the minority (that is: the ratio of blacks to whites in the airport at that time), I wasn’t singled out for further inspection or harassment just because I was Nigerian- unlike my experience in Mauritius.
I must say that Zanzibar is quite refreshing, and the food is just divine! I went to Stone Town first (which I didn’t like so much, as the locals were not very friendly), before leaving for Jambiani beach. I have decided to stay here and have rented a bungalow over-looking the Indian Ocean. I will live, write and work from here until the precise time I have to be back home to commence my new design projects and shoot the campaign ads as the Face of an international Denim company.
*doing my chicken shoki-dance* (Hints on my IG page)
I love travelling, I really do. Often-times I am asked why I like it so much or how I can afford it as if saving the thousands of dollars we use to buy different weaves quarterly would not buy you a decent holiday somewhere… (I also addressed this in my Mauritius post for BN here) and the simple truth is that people will always spend money on different things.
Some people like to acquire expensive material things and possessions: designer this-and-that, jewellery and possessions, while some just like to collect great experiences and good memories. I am one of the latter. And so I travel, I tour. I leave every seemingly important distraction behind and just enjoy being myself- at that moment, in appreciation of the good health and life still had- in spite of the crippling hustle of city life. It is priceless.
Shocked, and in seemingly great concern, some would diligently remind me that it was such an un-African thing to do… especially for an African-born female. To this, I reassuringly remind them of their options… as in all things, one must choose that which serves one best. A.K.A “To each their own”.
“Come to think of it, who is an authority on the authentic social choices of the modern black folk?” I mused, perched snuggly in the outdoor hammock outside my temporary home.
Me I no know o. For now I am just enjoying the questions. Hopefully, someday, decades from now we will be lucky enough to look back on our lives with happy smiles and say, ‘‘Yes, we did live a great life, for a human being’’. Not, ‘‘Oh well, I suppose I lived a good black life…’’
And so I lay there happily, underneath that big ol’ tree and drifted into a soft, sweet slumber.