‘What drink would you like sir?’
Her smile was zombie-like. Her glaring eyes motivated Emeka to choose quickly.
She had already moved to the next person before he could say thanks, her robotic smile remained plastered. Emeka was unperturbed. He wouldn’t allow a few oddities alter his euphoria. He was jumping like a child in his mind and struggled not to giggle out loud. He couldn’t allow these folks know he was a ‘JJC’. His skin colour blended with theirs like dark chocolate to white. He knew he should have started the bleaching process much earlier but he would just have to make do with his fake accent. His bladder began to knock on his stomach. He couldn’t stand dozens of white faces staring as he walked to the restroom. He twisted his legs a little more.
“Please fasten your seatbelts and remain in your seats. We will be expecting a little turbulence. Thank you”
Emeka heard the pilot in horror. The urine was forcing its way out like a flood but he had to hold it. The plane of the U.S. Airways trembled lightly, he began to pray silently in his mind. In the midst of his petitions, the plane began to tilt violently. It tilted dangerously to the left and panic broke out like a swarm of bees. A murmur could be heard from the cabin which erupted into noise as the plane was threatening to fall from the sky. Emeka’s prayers had graduated from murmuring to full scale shouting. His prayers were mixed in pidgin English and Igbo. The plane was in raucous. Apparently everyone knew how to pray. The atmosphere was full of screaming and fear in all sorts of languages. Emeka didn’t even notice the river seeping through his trousers. The pilot managed to get a hold of the joystick. The tilting gradually normalised. The atmosphere of fear began to dissipate. The prayers were calming down and sighs of relief were being heaved. Some were badly shaken and others were still hyperventilating. When near stability was reached the pilot immediately began to apologise and comfort with his words, the flight attendants quickly went round aiding those in distress. Emeka also began to stabilise and he quickly took a hold of his English, he looked around to see that no one was staring at him. He began take in deep breaths. A breath got stuck in his heart as it began to thump quickly. “Chi mo”
The sweat quickly tensed round his body, as he noticed his trousers and his chair was wet. The flight attendant just came to his row and he looked up at her, his eyes pleading.
The bronze lion roared in front of the MGM Grand Hotel. It didn’t notice the bridge connecting the hotel to The Excalibur, nor the people who walked on the bridge. It was night and this was the city of lights. The electronic billboards advertised circus acts, magicians, strippers and so much more. The buildings were tall and majestic and the lights personifying the city sat like stars on all the buildings. The bridge connecting the two hotels swayed lightly as people crossed it. Everyone had their destination, the night was young and the adrenaline was high. It’s Las Vegas! No one seemed to notice the beggars that were on the bridge. They sat at the side of the bridge, their smell and appearance enough to solicit any attention, but they were ignored. There were white ones, with a black amongst them. No one cared, they were saving up their coins for the casinos.
Emeka came walking on the bridge, he was taking a final tour round the city. He was coming out of the Excalibur Hotel that he was lodged in, but he found it hard to appreciate the magnificence around him. His mind ran around to his experiences in the last days. His euphoria had died since, all his expectations had been strangled of life. America was supposed to be the dream nation, where all his fantasies would come through, but everything was overhyped. He had spent most of his savings to come here, to take his mind off problems at home. But from the inception of the journey he had been humiliated. He shuddered when he remembered the event on the plane. As much as he tried to force an accent and fit in, he still felt isolated. The infrastructure was gorgeous and it was impossible to find litter sleeping on the floor, but the people spoke too fast, they didn’t have good food and everything was expensive. Things seemed to have an artificial quality here and there was a spirit he couldn’t identify with. He had spent the bulk of his money in the casinos and in…warmth crawled through him as a smile slid across his face. The smile fled as he realised how much he had left in his pockets. Halfway across the bridge, he remembered his country, the terrible state of the economy, the price inflation, the hunger, the tension, the lack of belonging for his people. Anger boiled in his chest and resentment seeped out in him as he looked around him. He knew that it could take decades for a city in Nigeria to be close to what he was staring at.
‘What is wrong with our government? What is wrong with our people?’ He kept on asking himself. He didn’t notice that he was so close to a beggar. He felt a tug on his trousers and he looked down. The beggar stretched out his hands with his face down. Emeka was heavily touched and remembered the ones at home. He put two notes in the man’s hands and ambled on. He knew this would take a toll on him but he felt better. He stared at the bronze lion and wondered how a city this rich could still have homeless people. He turned round to see the destitute again. Tears welled in his eyes. The white beggar had moved closer to the black one and gave him a dollar. There was still some hope left in the world.
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