By: Ahmad Adedimeji Amobi
The last time I was able to send you a letter was five months ago when I got shortlisted for a writing prize I couldn’t win because the winner wins with votes and likes, I hope you remember.
I have written several letters after that but our Post Office fluctuates like Nigerian electricity. There was a time I went there they said they’ve closed deliveries outside Nigeria for now. There was a time they closed down for weeks. But lucky me, As I was returning home today, an announcement was written on their plank (just like every shop owner does, announcements are made on planks outside their shops) stating that “letters outside Nigeria are being now delivered”. I don’t know when that will hibernate again, so I would be quick and brief.
Last year, the couple of mistakes you made really infuriated and I was really worried because they cost you your health and belongings. This letter addresses the little things you will do to avoid their motif. You know all these things, I know you know them. But the easiness over there might have slept over your brain to remember them. Please, note them.
Let me start with your dressing. You can dress properly when you leave there so as to avoid embarrassment from your friends, but once you get to your Stop-over because I know you will surely have a stop-over, you will have to change your dressing.
Maybe you should start wearing that cloth now or maybe you should find one of your long-worn cloths. I don’t know what you will do but you must find an old, not ironed cloth to wear that will depict you like a casual traveller. Your cloth can be normal shirt and trousers, but it would be better if you can get an Ankara, Ankara is perfect. Find a sandal a little bigger than your size that when they see you, they will see you as someone they can give and not someone they can charge higher rates. It was because you dressed properly last year that you paid that much money for you fare. It would be good if you can get a sun cap but it is not that necessary. God may be good to you, your bus might not break down as it did last year but I doubt it. Commercial busses break down always especially at the middle of the expressway where all you can are just bushes and over-twenty-years-left-unused filling stations. Just bring that sun cap in case your bus breaks down, that will prevent you from getting burned from the scorching sun.
Having done with your dressing, the next thing is where you will pack your luggage. You might not have the privilege of getting a Ghana-must-go bag inside the airport but once you get out of the airport, try to get one that will occupy your luggage. The important thing is that the airline labels or anything that might depict you as a Nigerian outside the country must not be shown or else, you will end up paying for your luggage the same amount you pay as a passenger. If you can’t get a Ghana-must-go, ordinary bags will do. Just make sure they are not new. The bag that was stolen last year was because they saw that airline label on it. Be careful.
Please, keep up with your appearance; don’t end up paying double the money of what other passengers pay. I pray you scape through this part because it is the important part. Nigerian drivers might look dirty, but when it comes to charging fares, their brains work like time. Also, don’t argue your transport fare, if you try to argue, you might end up losing the whole money in your pocket. You won’t even know who took it from you.
When you get inside the bus, these things will prevent you from encountering what you encountered last year, especially what cost you your health. Before you bounce into the bus, buy a pack of Tom-Tom sweet and a nose mask. The sweet will alleviate your suffocation of the inhale of petrol and the mask will mitigate the smell of the engine smoke suffusing inside the bus. It is only in Nigeria that the engine smoke of a commercial bus that ought to be blowing through the Silencer blows beside the driver. Please, don’t forget these two things; don’t let a bus destroy that fresh body of yours. I wish you journey mercies in advance.
Yes, before I forget, come with power banks to charge your phone, three laptop batteries and already ironed clothes. You might not be able to endure what we endure here. They restore our electricity once or twice in a week for a little period of time; you might not be able to stand that. I hope you enjoy your holiday.
I know you would want to buy gifts for people when coming, please don’t buy many things for them o, they would think you are there to make money. They would have forgotten you are also a student; it’s just that you’re on scholarship. I know Jide would want you to buy him some clothes, don’t mind him, just buy him a pair of trousers. That is okay for him. And for others, just buy those sweets you bought last year. That will be okay.
And for me, don’t buy me anything. I will be glad to see you and that is enough as a gift. Just don’t forget the phone and the new shirts and trousers you promised me. I also like the type of glasses you wore last year. I am not telling you to get it for me o, I am just admiring it.
I will round up here. Let me quickly go and submit it at the Post Office before they close down again. I wish you journey mercies in advance again and I hope you don’t make the mistakes you made last year. I hope this gets to you.
Ahmad Adedimeji Amobi is a student of English at the University of Ilorin who believes in the power of the Pen. His works have been published or are forthcoming on Kalahari Review, Agbowo, African Writer, Tuck and others. He was shortlisted for the League of Wordsmiths, 2018.