Thursday, 30 June 2011

Good Trap


First they told us the flight was cancelled and that we had to write down our names and phone number so they'd call us for the tomorrow flight. By the time we all did, information came that there was a possibility of flying after all. We were requested to check in our luggage. Someone started spitting foul words at the ground crew. The plane had technical issues, would he rather we board on a faulty plane? Some people are sure in a hurry to get to lalaland.
Eight hours later, we're finally boarding. Am asked what my final destination is. Luanda. They check my passport once, twice then ask me to kindly sit and wait for someone to attend to me. Hey, what is 10 minutes after eight hours! I smile and sit.
"What's your final destination madam?"
I explain that am on a very long trip going to Dubai, Nairobi then back to Dubain and off to Luanda. Back to Dubai again and then Accra and then Abidjan.
The officer flips through my passport again and again and then says "but you have no visa for Rwanda." "Rwanda? Oh, not Rwanda, Luanda. The capital of Angola" and we laugh.
Dubai airport makes my head reel. Too many people. 
Nairobi is such a beautiful city but with a vicious traffic. On a "No U Turn" sign someone had tagged in green "so what?". My colleagues and I started laughing. The police man directing traffic must have thought we were laughing at him.
My first time in Luanda. The personnel at room service did not speak english and I don't speak portugeuse. We laughed at each other on the phone. I gibberished that I wanted something light to eat. She finally got it. They sent me a coca cola light.
Luanda's downtown by night (the only free time I had) is quite beautiful. The food is lovely and not too different from what we eat back home. I wish I stayed longer than 2 nights but then I'd be broke. The country is ridiculously expensive. The customs officer at airport asked me if I had money to declare. I told her no. And she said in her best english "ok, good trap!". I am not easily spooked but I felt a sense of dread.
Am now off to Accra. There's a mom with the prettiest baby girl I've ever seen on my left. She knocked down her mother's tray, pulled her hair and drooled on her shoulder. Her t-shirt says "I love mummy". A baby with a sense of humour.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Grounded


The last 3 years have been a blurr. Great job, not enough quality time with the Loved Ones, plenty of travelling and too many airports.
Don't get me wrong. I love to travel and discover new places and faces, try new tastes and spit some out. I tried crocodile meat. It stands somewhere between chicken and fish. I hated it. I loved sushi. Never thought I'd enjoy raw fish but guess what, penguins have great taste.
I've just spent 9 hours at Kotoka airport in Accra and will most probably miss my connecting flight to Nairobi. These things happen. Kids are wailing, parents are bribing. Two kids, brothers I think, are eyeing my smartphone. The elder one says "you have a blackberry". It's not a question. I smile and eye their snack. The little one puts his snack put into my face. It is some cheese sticks snacks. It smells good. Am very hungry and I say no thanks and smile. The kid looks sincerely relieved.
The adults are scowling and the business class adults are pouting and trying to make eye contact to communicate their anger, annoyance. I will not be contaminated. I hope the toxic smell of farts gradually filling the boarding gate doesn't stick on me though. The guy on my left reeks of the smell of stale tobacco. Worse, he just burped. 

Post written at the Katoka International Airport on 19th of June 2011.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Dear Muhammad

Dear Muhammad,

It's been what, 20 years since we last met? Sometimes, it feels like it was yesterday. And many times, I wished I could go back in time and tell you this. I don't think you'll ever read this but I had to write it anyway.

Muhammad you made us laugh so hard. Remember the day we had visitors for tea and my mum sent you to have a look and tell her how many people were there? You went and stood in the living room and started counting them out loud pointing. Silence followed then the bigest roar of laughter I'd ever heard in my child life.

Muhammad you helped me so much when I was struggling with my Quran lessons at school. You were my big brother. 

Muhammad, you learned to make "ligaymaat" exactly the way my mum made them. Hot with the sugar melting on them with tea and milk. We'll have them every afternoon after school on the balcony. You are the best house help we ever had. 

And how it all ended. How I ended it all. And am so very sorry.

We were used not to be given pocket money for school. Dad thought it wasn't a good idea. We had food, drinks and enough snacks to end a day and that should suffice he thought. He was right. 

I saw the 2000 F CFA bill on the living room table and I took them. I didn't think they'd be missed. They stayed in my bag the whole morning. By the time I realised that I did not know what to make of them since the market was too far from school and that I could not buy food because I would not dare return home with what my mum had given me it was too late. I convinced myself that if I took them back home, my parents would call me thief. Or so I chose to believe. At break time, I bought food  from the vendors with all the money and called my class mates to share along with the "home food". 

School was in Say, some 54 km away from Niamey. My classmates were so poor some of them came to school wearing their underwear only and with a slate and chalk as school furniture. Our first weeks in school our "home food" was either stolen or grabbed from us. Those were the best days of my education life. I decided I was doing the right thing with the money.

Muhammad, when we got back home later and found that my dad was home from work and asking about the money I got scared. I did not say anything and went down to the playground. I saw you coming from the Fulanis where you had gone to get milk and I told you "there is money missing, 2000 FCFA and my dad is angry".

When we came back from the playground, you weren't there. My mum told us that you had left. 

You started defending yourself even before you were questioned and  told him that you had not taken the 2000 FCFA. He asked how you knew that it was the missing amount, he had never told you. Muhammad, did you realise then that it could have been me? You said nothing. You thanked them, my parents, for having been good with you, said sorry, left the milk in the kitchen and left.
Sometimes, I still cry. Everyday I wish I could say forgive me.

Fatma

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Nuts


Actually, the monkey wrote this.


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Sunday, 18 July 2010

House

I wish I could have a house,
A house I could buy cash.

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