10, Aanu street,
P.O box 21556
11th February, 1995.
24, Ahmed road,
P.O box 17880
I hope this letter meets you well and at a good time. I wrote this in haste as I begin my journey back to my hometown. I can imagine your disappointment but my love, I believe it is for the best for you and I at the moment. How are you doing? How are my in-laws? I believe I would meet them soon by God’s grace. My love, I plead for your forgiveness for not meeting my appointment with your family again. I never planned to disappoint you and In fact, the postmark on this letter would show I am presently in a state called Ekiti where I spent two nights, an mortifying experience if I may say. My love for you has made made me stand unimaginable situation these past 2 days of which you would be scared to relate with me if I came to see your parents now. Hence, my return home for a better time.
My Kate, you would not believe I had passed the night, no, two nights at the graveyard these past two days on my way to visit you. I can imagine you beautiful mouth wide open right now and your pale brown eyes staring in wonder at my words. The experience was terrifying for me also but at that moment, I had little or no choice. Strangely, I did not spend those two days alone, everyone in our bus did. It was a wonder we survived the still quietness and fear of the unknown those two nights. I could neither bring my eyes to close with a grave beside me and a young child crying herself to sleep at the other side. I heard before that young children see spirits and I could imagine what she saw those two nights. Other passengers hurdled together like packs of sardines in a can but I refused to join. Fear, they say, can be transmitted and even I could smell the fear of the pack. I must have been too tired the first night because I finally drifted off and woke up in the early hours of the morning. Sadly, we still had no clue what was wrong with our bus and the delegates sent to the nearest town were not back with a mechanic.
My love, like you always told me when we were both studying at Lagos in the year 1994, our instincts are signs and should never be ignored. You were right because I felt a strong nudge not to board the first bus. In fact, I was the last passenger of the bus. The sight of the rickety bus had no assurance it would reach its destination and Kano to Lagos was quite a distance. The driver was lousy in speaking and looked like he was dragged in by a cat. How he managed to gain trust of other passengers was what I could not fathom or rather they were in a haste to see a precious one like me. I ignored my instincts and boarded eventually. Our journey was smooth till we arrived Ekiti state.
You are indeed a well of wisdom as I can clearly recount the day my bicycle had a minor fault. I insisted on taking you home first and repairing it later but you never agreed. Can you remember? I sincerely wanted you to get home early but you told me that when I see a minor fault, I should repair it immediately to avoid the consequence of something worse due to my negligence. It saves time and money, you said. You explained that if I ignored it, we might be stuck in a place that it would take much more time to repair and you would eventually get home late. Our driver was negligent, I think. Our bus was giving signals but he pushed further claiming Lagos was close enough. Sadly, we never made it to Lagos.
When our bus finally gave up and could go no further, women began hurling curses at him while we men got down and picked our brains on what could have been wrong with the engine all to no avail. By evening, we had to send delegates that would trek to the nearest town for assistance. Fortunately, I was not selected yet I wish I was when it was announced that we could not sleep in the bus due to thieves and would sleep in a cemetery. In fact, the driver said it with such confidence, I believe he had been doing so before. Protest began among the passengers yet we reluctantly followed the driver.
The first night was uneventful but the second night was awful. We were hungry, tired and scared. One of the passengers had some foodstuff enough to go round in the afternoon but by night, strange sounds from bellies were enough to scare the living dead. For the first time, I was grateful women love talking. The silent whispers gave me hope we were all alive. One of the men slept off and soon began snoring scaring the little children. I did not know when I woke him up with much annoyance. We would not want to wake the dead with noise, would we? Trees moved like ghosts in shadows and I as a man was scared to my teeth. Mosquitoes did not spare us neither did little ants and I prayed fervently for the dawn. We all stayed awake and at the first light, we scrambled out of the graveyard with so much relief.
We had a terrifying encounter and we thought we were going to die. One of us went to ease himself and was coming back to our little group. The first sight of him almost gave me an heart attack. He was wearing a white guniea which much looked like the attire of ghosts in movie. A woman screamed and soon so many people joined. Thank God our driver had a little torch which confirmed he was not a ghost. I died and resurrected that moment. Nothing could contain my joy at dawn. I knew I was leaving the graveyard for good. The delegates came with another bus going to the north and I did not wait to see if the mechanic successfully repaired the bus. I joined the new bus and would find my way back to Kano. I briefly utilized the few minutes we had at a town in Ekiti to write to you and send at a post office. God bless the driver for helping me.
Kate, my dear, I would refrain from going further so as not to instill much more fear. I hope you never shed a tear over this. I would never want the love of my life to cry if it is not for joy.
I would once again plan and prepare another time to come and see my future wife’s family. But until then, take care of yourself.
Osanyinro Oluwaseun, a graduate of Microbiology and currently a master student of Public Health at the University of Ibadan runs a blog on WordPress deejemima.wordpress.com