I’ve been thinking, perhaps I need to have a “Airport Diaries” segment on my blog. I usually have the weirdest things happen to me there, like this one that happened in Accra I blogged about a while ago.
I had a flight a few days ago that we can call mainly uneventful – ( no turbulence, easy take off, smooth landing) perhaps if we strike out the fact that it got cold and because I forgot socks at home had to wear my toddler’s own. Please don’t even ask me how my toddler’s socks fit me.
Anyway the hours before the flight was a horror story that we can discuss another day, but let me give you a hint. *People fought. Grown men and women, only few inches from spitting in each other’s faces, called themselves olodo. Lmao. When last did I even hear that word heheheh.*
So first of all, went through immigration and for the first time since I’ve travelled out of Lagos with a child, an officer helped me. He filled the travel forms for me, I only had to sign and he did it like his job, expecting nothing. However, the person standing next to him decided to have a conversation. I indulged him. I mean, an immigration man in mufti or uniform is still an immigration man. First he asked if the child in the stroller was mine. I said “yes.” Then he said only child? You don’t want more? I said “No, I’m ok.” This was my mistake. Apparently, the right answer should have been “as many as God gives me” because in the space of three minutes, the man decided that I needed schooling on child bearing. He further asked if I was a single mother, what the meaning of I’m ok is, how anyone can say they don’t want kids, how people should not “lock” up kids in heaven because God can say 20 is your portion. So I asked him how many he wanted. I suggested 5 in the hope that five was atleast large enough if your mission was to unlock children from God’s heaven. He looked at me quizzically like, “Who are you to be determining for anybody?” If God says 20 I am ready. I asked if it was that he liked the noise and bustle that came with having so many children? Another mistake. He said how dare I call blessings from God noise.
Ofcourse I figured that he was the type who would never wear condom because Olorun ni n shomo. I also knew that he could get upset if I went on about child bearing being something that humans had control over. So I smiled fake smiles and laughters that only came from behind my teeth for all the time I stood before him. When I collected my forms to sign, I sensed the desperation in his tone, as he wanted to know somehow if my husband was my toddler’s daughter. He took the conversation towards the – if “oga” wants more kids, you have to give him more o. This was said in a righteous way, even though it was very laughable, very much like the way pastor’s give advice to a bride on her wedding day that she should not let her man look outside by cooking him special delicacies daily.
As I started to get ready to go, he asked what I know had been on his mind from the moment he saw me walking in with a stroller.
“Why you no travel with daddy?”
He made sure I understood him by emphasising on daddy. “Shebi daddy na your husband,” he continued, while pointing at my toddler in the stroller. “Na that one good.””Women having different husband, different daddy up and down like that is not good at all.”
I smiled another fake smile. Not only did he want to continue making his point about the importance of daddy being husband rather than just a baby daddy, he did so with such an arrogant, morally superior tone as though it was part of his official duty to give me relationship advice. At this point, I walked away very quickly, he was irritating me.
Then I went through security, another drama. There was this pretty woman who was to body pat me. This woman must indeed know that she is very pretty or been told many times because she stood, majestically, in a far corner from every other officer, one foot crossed over the other as she watched me walk to her. She made no attempt to walk towards any passenger and she did not even fret or fall back in line when a superior officer walked in on all of them. She noticed my phone in my back pocket as she started to body pat me, then told me to go back and put it through the scanner. By the time I went back to her, she didn’t bother body patting me again, she only said oya o you have to buy me dinner. She said so in the sweetest voice believe me. Anyway I told her it was almost 11pm, no way anyone should be eating dinner at that time. Then her tone changed from sweet to slightly desperate- if you want to give me something, give me from your heart. I wanted to tell her that well, I didn’t want to give her anything so yea, good point but she proceeded to say oya now dont leave here without being a blessing. So I fake searched my wallet, made sure I did’t open where I had 1 thousand naira notes then showed her that it was all receipts and expired bank cards and 200 naira which she vehemently said no to. Beggar’s having choices. The nerve.
Unfortunately for me, her eagle eye saw a few pound notes. Then very authoritatively she said “oya bring that one now” I laughed, this time a deep throaty laugh. “Madam,” I said as I looked at her. “Really? Do you know how much pound is?”
In the end, when she wouldn’t let me go, I gave her a small currency I have refused to convert because I cannot decide if it was worth it or if I was a blessing. But then she said “thank you for blessing me. Thank you. My heart will pray for you.”
I half asked her what she will pray about seeing that she had taken part of the money meant for my taxi. It was at this point she looked at me directly and very seriously said – “wait.”
She looked in the direction of my toddler and asked why “nobody was going to pick me, why I needed taxi?” I shrugged. Then suddenly it dawned on her what she would pray about for me. In her mind, pushing a stroller with a child alone and taking taxi meant that I was a single mother. She put her palm to her face and spoke rather sorrowfully – madam, oh God, you must be hustling this child on your own o eyahh. Sorry. I looked at her with shock and said no I’m not, but I was curious to know what exactly she would have prayed about if I said I was hustling alone. A rich new husband that won’t treat me how the baby daddy treated me? A sugar daddy? A senator? What exactly. But she didn’t say. Instead she switched without shame and asked me if I was sick, sick anywhere that people can’t see. She encouraged me to open up to her if I was, that she would make it her duty to pray for me for healing daily to which I responded – madam biko pray for yourself o. I’m not sick. And this my money is not going to be the reason for any answered prayers if I were. So just stop please.
I boarded the aircraft thinking about the stark ignorance of the first officer and the patriachal elements of our culture that we have allowed to thrive and bloom, such that even in things that concern women solely, men are still the front runners and decision makers.
I also thought about what it means to be a single mother in a place like Nigeria, how it is a plague that prayers can reverse because ultimately, having a man (who may very well be a figure head because he doesn’t care the foggiest about raising a child) is the most important thing in life.
And to be honest I didn’t dwell on it so much as I would have done normally, because it’s like you talk everyday and nothing changes, so I forgot all about it the moment the crew began serving food. I cannot come and have high blood pressure for other people’s ignorance please.