Hidden Currents (Lagos Romance Series) - By Somi Ekhasomhi
At that time of the day, late afternoon, Tafawa Balewa Square was not yet as busy as it would be later in the evening, when the labor force from Victoria Island would arrive to queue for hours for the Bus Rapid Transit buses that would take them over the bridges, to the mainland. Now there was a long queue of big, empty blue and red buses, with only a few passengers seated. The drivers waited impatiently for the passengers to arrive so that they could be on their way. Hawkers, selling cold drinks, fruits, boiled groundnuts, and other typical Lagos traffic snacks, sat impatiently on the curbs, disgruntled with the slow afternoon sales as they eagerly awaited the thirsty, hungry crowd that would arrive in only a few hours.
On the other side of the road, walking on the sidewalk in front of the old tennis club and holding hands, were two schoolchildren in uniforms. The bigger one, a girl about eight years old wore a red pinafore, a pink check shirt, black rubber shoes and a pair of white socks that reached up to her knees. The boy, much smaller, wore the same except that instead of the pinafore he was wearing red shorts.
Ada Arinze watched from behind them as they moved along the sidewalk. A slim, caramel skinned, medium height figure, casually dressed in blue jeans, black sneakers and a purple T-shirt. A wide purple headband narrowly prevented her thick cloud of tightly curled, springy hair from becoming a sky-high afro. She wore a camera around her neck, and as she watched the children walk ahead of her, her hands reached for it automatically, sensing a good picture.
The little boy was kicking his feet idly, with the girl holding one of his hands to keep him from skipping away. Siblings, Ada thought, on their way from school. She took a couple of pictures. She captured the little boy as he jumped too far ahead of his sister and her subsequent warning for him to stay in line, one hand on her waist and one finger pointing towards his upturned nose.
After she had taken a couple of pictures, she noticed that the children had stopped walking and were now facing the road. They were obviously waiting for the traffic to clear so that they could cross. As another car sped by, Ada walked up to them.
“You want to cross?” She asked with a friendly smile.
The little girl looked up at her and nodded uncertainly. The boy only stuck his thumb in his mouth and smiled widely.
Ada took both their hands and waited until the road had cleared again. It was a one-way street, but since they were in Lagos, she made sure to look both right and left before attempting to cross to the other side.
“Thank you Auntie.” The little girl said shyly before running off with her brother across the concrete pavement to a small wooden kiosk where a woman was selling fresh fruits. Their mother, Ada decided. Probably they would stay with her in the kiosk until evening, when she was ready to go home. Ada smiled nostalgically, remembering herself as a schoolchild, spending the days after school in the much larger shop where her granny used to sell provisions.
She shook off the memories and removed the zoom lens from the camera, placing it carefully in her backpack. There was no point in dwelling on those happy days now that Granny had returned to Owerri to live in peaceful retirement. Even though she now felt more alone than she had ever felt in her life, she knew it was the best choice for Granny, Lagos life being what it was.
However, it had raised all sorts of complications in her life. Both she and her brother Zubi had lived with Granny since when their mother died. It had been their only option after their father had shown his reluctance to take them in to live with him and his new wife. Now that Granny no longer lived in Lagos, her father had refused to continue payment of the rent for the Lagos house. He had advised Ada to go and live with Zubi, who was married and had a young family, until she got “a real job and could afford a house of her own, or some man to marry her and give her a home.”
Ada grimaced at the memory of the conversation with her father. He usually either ignored her or said the worst things to her. Not