It was an eight hour ride to the station in Kano at the train’s fastest speed, so Bade tried to relax as much as possible. The window let in fresh air, blowing straight on his face, and he found himself drifting in and out of sleep. A couple of hours later, when he was wide awake again he studied those who were around him, trying to pass the time.
The compartment wasn’t filled to capacity, there were empty spaces here and there. He saw a married couple, a family with three children, four single men, and two single women, one of whom was in hijab.
Something struck him as familiar about the other lady and it took him a few moments to figure out where he had seen her before. When he did, he quickly put two and two together, and the realisation came to him. He debated with himself a bit as to whether he should go and meet her, then he shrugged, what could it hurt.
‘Hello, good afternoon. May I join you?’ Bade asked, gesturing at the empty seat beside her, an easy smile on his face.
She looked up at him, her face expressionless and said, ‘Sure, no problem.’ He sat.
‘I know we haven’t met officially, but I was in an office a week ago trying to weasel my way out of my NYSC posting. You were also in that office, in fact, you were picked from behind to see the man first, but the fact that I’m seeing you here on this train as well makes me think we were both trying to evade the same thing.’
‘Oh, you were one of the people I chanced that day? I’m sorry, I didn’t ask for that, didn’t mean to offend you people.’ She said.
‘Oh, it’s no problem. What man can resist the allure of a beautiful woman?’
She smiled at that. ‘Thank you.’
‘I’m Bade by the way.’
‘Nice to meet you, Bade, I’m Lola.’ She replied.
‘The pleasure is all mine. So, Lola, if you saw the opportunity to get out of this mess, why are you still here?’ Bade asked.
‘That man was nothing more than a crook, I had no idea why I even thought he could help me.’
Bade looked surprised, ‘I said exactly the same thing to my friend, he was just trying to rob us. Thank God we weren’t that desperate to give in to him.’ She nodded in agreement.
‘So, going to serve in Kano in a time like this, are you afraid?’ Bade asked.
‘Afraid? I’m terrified. My parents almost didn’t allow me to go, but I just couldn’t stand the thought of staying at home for another six months while applying for redeployment, and they could even have sent me to another undesirable place. I think I’ll just take my chances.’
Bade chuckled. ‘You know, I like the way you think. But no need to worry, I’ll look out for you.’ He said. She smiled at that. She looked really cute when she smiled, and Bade had to make the effort not to stare. He cleared his throat.
‘So, Lola, tell me about yourself. This is going to be a long ride.’