Hello and a good week to everyone and a not so good one to myself. Why? Because I just lost all the data I have been compiling about my trips to Asaba and Umuahia! Where am I going to start now, and at such short notice at that? I’m so angry with myself. I’m also wondering if it got lost when the computer decided to automatically update itself – I usually leave it on standby so I can continue where I left off. I just feel like smashing something especially this stupid laptop but alas, all my eggs are in this goose. So I’ll swallow and get on with it as best as I can.
First of all let me commend all who live in Asaba on their hardiness. That town is hot! Bleedin’ ‘eck! It is super hot! It is so hot you can even chew on the air itself. If there was ever a time I appreciated water, it was in that town I did so. To try any other drink in that town with a view to assuaging your thirst is a quest in futility. Let that girl who calls herself Frieda come and brag about her inferno of a town to me again and she’ll see what fiery wrath I have in store for her – yes she’s from Asaba! I still can’t talk, and that’s unusual for someone who talks as much as I do. Every step one took in that heat was equivalent to a mile trekked on a cool day. It was so hot one had to sit near an air conditioning system to keep one’s thoughts from evaporating. Scientists say if one goes without water for three days that one could die but in this town, that has the river Niger right beside it, twelve hours without water would certainly kill me – I don’t know of others. And then the work, I was shooting a movie, was so heavy because I had very limited time to work on the set making it very tasking, especially with the three thousand plus watt lights we were using to work. And they wonder why we actors are so touchy – they don’t have to stand the heat.
Respite came at night though; I made sure I sampled all the joints the lovely town – at night – had to offer. I first went to a point and kill joint called Y2K where they had one of the most humongous catfish I have seen in a long time. I picked out the biggest there and went to our seat as they carted the protesting sod away. When it arrived on a platter, all grilled and steaming in a bed of roast ripe plantain and garlands of red hot peppers, onions and lime an hour later, I remembered my main purpose for coming to Asaba. I don’t think my head ever rose from bending over that platter until I was done licking my fingers and my chops. In fact I don’t remember a word escaping the lips of any three of us that seated at that table except to call for more beer or tissue for our eyes and noses. That wasn’t all; I made time for isi-ewu (goat- head) and bush meat pepper soup and palm wine before I left. Now you see why I am so healthy?
Alas, I was to go back home the next day as I had to catch the morning flight to Owerri the next day. My plan was to charter one of the state taxis to take me to Benin where I could hop on a flight to Lagos. A friend of mine took me to the park to get one but to our disappointment they were all gone save the private taxis who swore to me they were a comparable choice of means of transport. Looking doubtfully at their cars, I asked one of the drivers if he had air conditioning in his car to which he swore blind that he did, and had just serviced it the day before. We haggled, agreed on a price for an air conditioned vehicle and set off on our journey. He then pleaded my indulgence so he could get some fuel at a nearby petrol station and then we would be on our merry way. I assented and when we filled our tank, we went on our merry way, with the windows still wound down.
Excusing his forgetfulness, I reminded him to put the A/C on, to which he apologised and turned a few knobs while winding the windows up he then inserted a CD in the stereo and the car was filled with gospel music extolling the graces of God and how he (the driver sang along with the singer) longed to follow His righteous path and statutes. It began to get considerably warm in the entombed car and I remarked as such. The driver suddenly bent over the vents, felt this way and that with an incredulous look on his face, exclaiming he’d never had an experience like this before in his fifteen years of driving commercially. He then proceeded to dig into the glove compartment, brought out his mobile phone and began to look through it. Before I could remind him that he was about to use a mobile phone on a highway, he had already begun to hurl abuses on ‘whoever’ was on the other end of the line about why the miscreant didn’t fill his a/c unit with gas and now his customer was sweating it out in the back of his car. He then turned to me and apologised profusely swearing this had never happened to him before. I put him at ease and told him it was okay, all I needed was for him to get me to the airport on time for my 1.30 flight. We did get there on time and on getting my luggage out, I paid him the agreed (a/c) sum. He looked at the money, then at me and asked if I wasn’t going to give him a little something for the pains he took to rush me to the airport on time! Nigeria, we hail thee! Have good week everyone. I’ve missed you all!