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A Lady from the Sea

By Olatunbosun Adetula (Nigeria)

Chapter 1


 

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The afternoon shadow lengthened. The drum of calmness beat softly and gently over Lekki. The afternoon sun sank below the horizon. The sun went down deep into the river below. Huge numbers of birds flocked together by the riverside.

      The bus jostled and rattled over the rough road. John was suddenly wide awake.  He felt the impact of the bus. His nerves jangled, he didn’t enjoy the bus ride at all. The bus made a loud sound and stopped. Some passengers disembarked from inside the bus as it stopped at the first bus stop. John checked his wrist watch. The time was  4:30 in the evening. He had thirty minutes before he would get down at the next bus stop.

      John loved to spend his holiday with his uncle. Uncle George and his wife who teaches in Lekki high school. They had a daughter Josephine. John was especially fond of Josephine. Most of the time they would take Uncle George’s boat and sail along the beach in Lekki. Sometimes they went deeper into the sea and caught many fish.

      Josephine was a good swimmer, but John was afraid of water. It was Josephine that taught him how to swim. John liked Josephine’s friend Taye, a tall, slim boy. Taye was Josephine best friend. He was fifteen, the same age as John and Josephine.

      The bus driver soon made a signal and pulled over into the slow lane. The bus entered the terminal. John looked like a stranger as he stepped down from the bus. He looked to the left and the right. He looked around for his uncle but he was nowhere to be found. Many thoughts troubled his mind. First among the thoughts in his mind was whether his uncle had decided not to come to pick him up from the bus terminal.Lekki town is surrounded by water. John could perceive the breeze as it came from the ocean. He saw the leaves as they whirled in the wind.

      John heart gave a sudden leap when he saw Uncle George. Uncle George was not able recognized him again. He flicked his eyes from face to face. He smiled. From a distance Uncle George saw a young man with a smile flitting across his face. He’s the one, he whimpered to himself. He knew he didn’t need a crystal ball to know that he was looking at John. He went and met him. They both smiled and embraced each other.

“How are you John?” Uncle George said. He gripped John’s hand.

“I am fine and okay uncle,” said John as he struggled with his traveling bag.

   “Let me help with the bag.” Uncle George said. He took the bag from him and led him toward the car.

      John saw that the bus terminal had changed. The transport union had built a new building for their office. The building was located right beside the canteen. If not for the signboard that he saw, he wouldn’t have believed this was Lekki bus terminal.

     “John you must have been tired.” Uncle George said.

    “Really tired Uncle. The bus driver didn’t help matters at all. To say the driver was reckless would be an understatement.” said John

   “We have many kamikaze drivers coming from Rangeville these days.” Uncle George said. He dropped the bag into the back of his car.

      John smiled as he opened the door and sat inside, feeling relieved.

  “Did you know what John, I couldn’t recognized you again the moment I saw you. It’s been a long time.

   “But uncle I was here two years ago.”

   “It doesn’t matter John. Now you have grown taller and bigger, Josephine will not recognize you again.”

   “She won’t recognize me?” John said surprised and alarmed.

   “I just pray she recognized you.”

    He jangled the key inside his pocket. Ten minutes later they drove toward Uncle George’s bungalow. Uncle George was forty years. He was five feet and nine inches tall, medium built and sometimes wore glasses. His wife Rosemary was an elegant woman, tall and beautiful. Uncle George loved his wife and they both share the same birth date.

      They were busy as they talked within the car as he drove toward the hill. The hill first rose steeply and then flattened out toward the sea. Uncle George drove for minutes. Later he swerved the car into a street that looked deserted and parked in front of a bungalow.

      When John got down from the car and looked around, he noticed that the house and the environment hadn’t changed a bit. Except for the painting, nothing had really changed. Inside the sitting room, John discovered that the chairs and tables were new, the sitting room having matching curtains and cushions.

   “Let me get you a cold drink Johnny.” Uncle George said as he rushed into the kitchen.

   “Don’t bother yourself Uncle. I am not a stranger here.” John said as he went after him.

   “Then I have to leave you here. The school is vacating today and we are very busy. Josephine will come and meet you right away, so enjoy yourself.” Uncle George left the sitting room. Minutes later John heard the sound of his car as it sped away.

      John watched the television. Later he heard someone knocking. He stood up, went to the door and opened it. Josephine didn’t give him a chance as she embraced him tenderly. Her friend was behind her. She smiled as she looked at the two cousin.

      When Josephine sat down, a smile flitted across her face as she continued to talk with John.

   “That is my cousin I was talking about. His name is John. John meet Mairo.”Josephine said and smiled.

   “How nice to meet you John, how was the journey?” Mairo said.

   “Well, not too bad; at least I arrived here safely.” said John.

   “Josephine has told me lots of things about you.”Mairo said.

   “Hope she hasn’t told you my secret.” John said and smiled.

   “What secret?” said Mairo.

   “Okay it is better that she hasn’t told you.” said John as the three laughed.

   “John, have you eaten?” said Josephine.

   “Nope, I only took biscuits and juice.”

   “That isn’t  food you know, I will cook for you right away.” Josephine said. She went into the kitchen and left John and Mairo inside the sitting room.

     Mairo was a beautiful girl, unlike Josephine who was five feet nine in her stocking feet, Mairo was five feet tall. She wore a scarf loosely knotted around her neck. Mairo and John continued to talk as Josephine brought the food. Later, when they finished the food, Mairo stood up and was ready to go to her house because it was getting late.

   “Please Mairo exercise a little patience. I have to drink a cup of coffee before I leave this house.” Josephine said. She looked very beautiful in her faded blue jeans.

   “Then you make three cups of coffees.”Mairo said.

   “I guess you will say that.” Josephine replied.

    It was getting to 7.00 p.m when they saw Mairo off, the evening sun walking tall with a rolling gait after them.

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