The Girl

THE GIRL: A story about fate. I have a question tho...Does time really change fate?

It was three pm, and I was already tired of waiting for my flight. Time seemed to be crawling. I enjoyed chatting and reading e-books, but I was not in the mood for any. I got thirsty, so I decided to get bottled water at a shop. I had finished the one I bought earlier. My steps were a little slower than how I normally walked. Probably because I was singing my favorite reggae song, redemption by Bob Marley. As I strolled, I watched an airplane take off. It was a sight I had gotten used to over the years; still, whenever I watched it, I was always reminded of man's relentless strivings against the forces of nature. 

I shifted back my focus to where I was going. Before I could say, Jack Robinson, a clumsy scrawny girl with high sandal heels, tripped and bumped into me with the items in her handbag and also crashed onto my navy blue shirt. It was a wonder that I didn't fall despite my not-so-great stamina.

"Oh my God! I'm so sorry." The girl panted. "It's okay. Stuff like this happens." I replied as I helped her up to her feet. We both looked down. Her stuff was all over the ground. I sighed but bent to help her anyway. I figured I didn't have anything to lose. I picked up her handkie, a cream or lotion, I really couldn't tell, a sunglass, and her purse while she picked up the rest.

After we were done, she gave me a sheepish smile. "I hope you are not angry, sir?" Her voice was uncertain. "No." I chuckled. That wasn't true. I was angry. But not at her, at myself. If I hadn't missed my flight two days back, I wouldn't even be here in the first place. I glanced at her face. She was actually a pretty lady. "You are very kind. Thank you." She remarked. I smiled, giving her an it's-okay-nod. We parted ways, and I continued towards the store. I finally got the water and headed back to my seat. My back and legs were hurt from the whole ordeal. 

Now on my chair, I checked the time on my watch. It was three forty-five. Just forty-five more minutes. I imagined the nap I would have on the plane. At the same time, I was walking back to my bench. I had perceived a funny scent, but I thought it was probably someone's perfume, but now that I sat alone, I realized it was actually from me. It turned out that picking the girl's stuff had left the scent on my shirt and palm. It wasn't an unpleasant scent, but it also wasn't very alluring either... it was - well, old, it smelt like palm and shea. I wasn't sure. I applied a hand sanitizer to rid of the scent, but it did only a little. It was so strong. So old. Yet familiar. I tried so hard to recall where I had perceived such scent that my old brain started to ache. I decided to call it to quit. 

I checked my time again. It was four p.m. I slouched lightly and closed my eyes. Not to sleep. To rest a bit. A child hurried past just in front of me with a laugh so loud that I lurched. I opened my eyes again. But I didn't see the child nor the large glass pane or the long paved runways out in front. The women were not dressed in pencil skirts or wearing costly weave-on and wigs but in wrappers, trumpet skirts, and cornrows. The men were not in sneakers and penciled trousers but in sandals and baggy trousers. There were no Gucci or Chanel handbags, only wooden boxes, and briefcases.

I was not at the airport. I was rather in a rail station. There were no tall buildings but old brick bungalows. The roads weren't paved but red and rugged. My skin was smooth, and my hair was black. It is 1975. The sun was scorching, and the canopy over my bench barely provided any comfort. I held on tightly to my briefcase as I waited for the train. Just then, a lady approached my bench. I had never seen an African lady so tall as her. I wondered if my five feet eight inches would beat hers. She was like a palm tree on an island. Her hair was long and made in cornrows. I had to slap myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. I wasn't because she sat close to me. "Hello." She said with a smile. They were the perfect curve I had seen. I gathered myself and answered her greeting. "What's your name?" I asked her. "Tamar." "You?" She asked me. "Ife." "Hm." She beamed. "Love - your name. It means love." "Yes," I said. And I think I have fallen in love with you. I didn't tell her that. A robust middle-aged woman joined us at the bench. Tamar had to shift closer to me. Her shoulders brushed mine. I almost melted. The heat from the sun was nothing compared to the heat which burned on my inside.

With her long slender fingers, she played with the long ends of her hair. I took in the scent of her hair. They had the scent of - the scent! that was the familiar scent. I was tempted to ask what she used as her hair cream, but I didn't ask. We said nothing no more to each other. After a while, she stood up. "I want to get some coconuts. Do you mind following me?" She asked. I jumped off the bench. "Yes!" We strolled side-by-side with the vendors. She was taller than me. "Where are you headed?" she asked me. "Ebute Meta." "You live there?" She asked again. "No. I have an exam there." "Oh." She whispered. "You. Where are you headed?" It was my turn to ask. "Iddo - to my Aunty's." "For what." She turned to look at me, then turned forward. "I ran away from home - my father and his wife - they mistreat me." I chuckled. "Who would have the heart to mistreat a gem like you." I didn't know when the words came out.

She smiled but didn't reply. We sat back on the bench. After about five minutes the train arrived. Along with the crowd, we rushed to get in. We managed to get inside, and then she realized she had dropped her second bag while we were hustling to get in. "I must go get it." She shouted. The noise on the train was unbearable. "No!" I shouted back. "The train would leave you." "It won't. I'll be fast." It did. I never saw her again. I did try to find her - even at Iddo. But I never saw her. On some days, I just concluded she was a spirit or something. For years I kept asking why she'd shown up in my life just for a moment. "I'll never know." With the passing years, she never crossed my mind. But she was there, somewhere in a part of me. 

I opened my eyes. I was at the airport now. I checked my watch. It was four twenty-five. I stood up to stretch. My eyes strayed to the left side of the terminal. I saw the scrawny girl. She saw me too. She was with two other older women, both of who were also lean. Perhaps, family members. She waved at me. I waved back and sat back on my chair. She was a nice girl. I thought and turned my attention to the glass pane afront. It took only five seconds for me to catch myself. The woman. The oldest of the three. I felt my eyes plugged out. The taller woman. I stood abruptly from my bench. Where did they go? I ran towards where I'd last seen them. They weren't there.

And then I heard the announcement. "Flight 20B to Nairobi..."

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