The tropic sun proved to be unkind as always, as it's scorching heat sent a message to my overly tanned skin; I hurriedly adjusted my hat shading my face a little more from embracing sunburns. I'd thought a year of being in this part of the world could get me used to this, but it’s- just hard.

I took a glance at my surrounding trying to organize my thoughts. A few yards away laid the undefined market place which seem to permit trading everywhere even in the dump, I quickly took my eyes of the refuse dump and scavengers. Turning to the other side where lots of people were buying and selling local goods. These goods ranged from cereals such as: millet, maize, wheat, rice, among others. I was told, this was the only standard market in the region. Great I said to myself so much for a standard market. I was getting frustrated already.

 Seating here for almost an hour just waiting and waiting for the next bus is enough to make me insane, I literally screamed in my mind. I tried comforting myself saying; at least goods are excessively cheap here. This explained the excess of sweets, fruits, fireworks and sodas. I could not even exhaust half of the money I brought. I felt so bad, that I just wished I had sent someone to get this things, just then thoughts of the reason for the shopping cut in. I had planned to give the children a great new year party and this was the only market I could buy fireworks and sweets. Yes, Jane, it’s worth it. I reminded myself. I could tell what the problem was: it was hard to deal with the heat, the dust, the language, the environment and the people…the people, I thought again, the people are kind and loving but… I wished sometimes that I was home.

The mere mention of the word ‘Home’ brought memories I wish I could erase.

 His tender kisses gracing my untamed lipsHis strong arms around me…

 I quickly opened my eyes saying No Jane stop this, scolding a little loud as i jerked off my seat rushing to see if the rickety bus already arrived. The other women seating beside me turned profusely staring at me as if I had gone mad. i knew what they may be thinking so i smiled sheepishly at them making expressions I knew was very dumb

 ‘the bus…the … I…’ I stammered ‘I thought I missed the bus already…’

 Giggling to ease the tensed air, just then the bus arrived rescuing me from a train of unnecessary explanation. I grabbed my baskets and rushed in, fortunately, I got a seat close to the window, the bus assistant kept calling out hysterically for more passenger saying

 ‘going going, one going one going one going Askira, Damboa, Gwoza one way…’

 His dark rough skin glowered in the sun with sweat dripping from his well shaven head, his seeming green T-shirt and dirty jean trouser had grown passed their youth a few tears cut through his muscular shoulders and his knee, His eyes were red, one could see clearly the years of struggle and hard work. It’s surprising that he still peek at me as a wide grin spread through his lightly wrinkled face, he added

‘Oyibo how you de?’

‘I’m fine thank you’ his bold high pitched voice rang in my ears and I slyly wished he could keep his voice low.

‘Hope say you de enjoy our country’

‘Yes I am’ I smiled appreciatively not knowing what to say next, i got used to the expression Oyibo which meant a white person in English language. Everyone that saw me called me that, i became self conscious most times, wishing i could just disappear. The voice of someone cuts in.

‘conductor look front; you don see Oyibo now your body don de shake’

Everyone laughed in unison as if planned.

‘Shut up see your wowo face, una no the respect person, Oyibo no mind them’

Different voices filled the air some said

Oyibo leave them na so them de behave…

‘Yeye people, shut up.’ The bus assistant added ‘this na new year anybody wey try rubbish I go give am rubbish…’

The chatter continued for about half an hour, I just watched the drama and had another reason to love these people. It was amazing how people you are meeting for the first time, tend to talk and relate so well like old time friends. They laughed together as each strove to keep the conversation going, I couldn’t relate much because of the language barrier. Over the months I'd learnt a few words in the pidgin English, a language understood by the minority. However, it still sounded funny when I spoke it. I’m sure this amused the other passengers so much that they all laughed; I had a good laugh too.

An hour later, we were approaching the army check point. The bus came to a halt at the order of the soldiers on watch, three soldiers came to examine the bus. They asked a few routine questions; the bus driver and his assistant gave answers to their questions. When they caught sight of me, they simply asked if I was okay. Of course I was having a good time so I replied,

 ‘yes i'm doing fine thank you’

‘Its good to know’ one of them replied

 I wished them a Happy New Year and extended a hand full of sweets to each. The three said thanks and happily let us through. As I turned to the other side i caught sight of a soldier seating a few distance away under a small shade; I asked the bus driver to stop for a moment, I called back the soldiers and gave them more sweets for their friend. When we got to my bus stop I gave some sweets to everyone in the bus and wished them a happy New year. The bus assistant was so happy that he said

‘see better person, Oyibo god go bless you …’ he turned to the other passengers and added sarcastically

 ‘no mind all this bad belly people’

He assisted me in carrying my baskets out. I waved him goodbye as the bus drove passed me. I wore my hat again and continued walking. My journey home was blessed as some kids that saw me from a distant rushed to my aid to welcome me and unburden me of my load. As I stood on this dusty street, around me were donkeys, flock of sheep, children, woman and a few men scattered about as they go about their daily duties; I wonder why everything remained the same no fun, no new year tradition, no celebration. I was determined to have a great New Year party. the kids in my care deserved to have this special day I resolved.

When I got home, I made my way through the wide space in the middle of the U shaped building towards the kitchen. The people at home had done so much work. I screened the environment like some government inspector and I was impressed. 'wow even the yellow bush flower was watered' I thought

'Welcome Miss Jane, how market'

Came the voice of grandma Sadia. She was in charge of the orphanage home before i came and she had been good to me and the kids. Each time she called me Miss Jane i get this pressure to tell her, 'No, it's not Miss but Mrs Jane'. Nonetheless, it is of no use especially now that the divorce proceedings are over. I have a new family now and that's enough. I stopped the tears rolling down my cheek as i replied,

'thank you Sadia, i'm so tired and stressed out.'

'sorry... Haba Oyibo no the get power, go rest you hear' Her eyes was full with concern for me.

'thank you Sadia i will be fine... I will have a shower now and I'll join you later'

'Okay no problem.'

Hours later, I walked up and down setting up the center which would serve as the reception. The neighbors offered wooden chairs and joined in the cooking.

In time everything was ready, I had to make an all-round check just to make sure it was perfect, I laughed at the idea of being perfect, certainly not my life and certainly not Tega's look. He was the youngest in the house barely 2 years old when I found him, ever since then, he became very dear to me. I asked him,

'my little Tega what happened to you?'

He just smiled and stared at the marble floor. His head was overly oiled, giving him this greasy dark look. It was dark already far passed the time scheduled for starting the party I was becoming anxious, as I cleaned Tega up I called out for grandma Sadia and Ramat. To my surprise they came sooner than expected.

'Miss Jane! You no go believe this' the joy in her voice was infectious Ramat continue...

'The villagers are here! Not all though but most of them!'

'wow that's awesome'

'Yes Jane they are here, best of all the village head is on his way, so I was told'

A renewed strength filled me. I held Sadia in a warm embrace and said warmly

'please get everything ready, we are going to have a great party'

They left with Tega. My room was messy like a teenage boy’s room, yet i cared less. Quickly I dressed up searching virtually for the simplest things that should be handy. I barely had enough time to look in the mirror. I peeked at it anyway revealing my round Caucasian face I managed to apply a red lip stick it suited me i must say.

As soon I got to the center I met the king's arrival, dancing and singing followed. It was really interesting watching this young ladies twist their waist to the rhythm of the music. The sound of the band seemed similar to a Brazilian samba accompanied by a Gwoza song it was graceful as it held reminiscence of their ancient culture. The village head was dressed in the full regalia of a Gwoza ruler. A headgear made of white and black colored leather, it stood out clearly as much as the burn-fire could permit. He covered himself with many loose pieces of clothing beside him were lower chiefs and servants. I came close enough to welcome him. At this time he gave a sign the people understood to be silence.

' In behalf of all the members of Gwoza Orphanage Home I welcome His royal majesty king Hassan and members of Gwoza community to our New year party. In about 4 hours from now we will be in a new year which we hope will be filled with great opportunities, we have food and drinks for everyone so enjoy the party and have a great time. '

There was a loud sound of clapping and jubilation... I knew in my heart that my speech was really lame but who cares. I hurried off to meet Sadia they offered the local drink called Brukutu -its a fermented drink made from Millet. The local dish made of cassava and beef was serve to the people's delight. I was not used to the food so I took some fruits and I went of to prepare the fireworks.

Dancing continued for about an hour until the first shot of fireworks , then the second and third. The sky slowly changed like a chameleon into colors never seen at night such as; green, blue, red among others. The sound was deafening and the sight was lovely. Surprisingly this was my opinion until the unforgettable drama unfolded. In an instant men, women, children, old and young took to their heels. As if the earth was falling on them. they ran in all directions. confused and unsure of what was happening I tried to stop them calling out but no one listened. The screams and fear lurking in their very breathe still amuses me, the village head ran off leaving his crown. Some crouched in the woods and others rushed to nearby houses children screamed endlessly for fear. Sadia was gone only God knew where she was. Food and drinks splattered to the ground.

Everything was scattered. The party was ruined. It didn't take long to realize that, the fireworks display had caused this mass of displaced individuals to run into hiding. The people had never seen fireworks before and it was the source of their fear. After some minutes it was over. I was alone again; the only one left standing, staring at the beauty that prove to be the fear of my new family.

January 04, 2020 01:20

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Sam Kirk
21:51 Jan 08, 2020

An unexpected finale. A great portrayal of cultural differences. I wish I knew more about the main character's background. Was she American? Which country does this take place in? Which border did the bus cross?


Destiny Bassey
22:15 Jan 08, 2020

Thank you for reading my story. I'm glad you enjoyed reading it. The main character is an American volunteer in Northern part of Nigeria. They never crossed a border. It was an army check point within the locality. This routine is normal for security reasons.


Sam Kirk
22:21 Jan 08, 2020

Thank you for clarifying. I didn't want to assume. Stay golden!


Destiny Bassey
22:27 Jan 08, 2020

Thanks a lot, I do appreciate this.


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