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CHAPTER 4 - Sight Seeing

The car was soon on the way to Muritala Muhammed International Airport. As they alighted from the car, a loud voice was saying “this is to announce the arrival of being seven four-seven bia-bla-bla….
Tai jerked his head around and asked “where is that voice coming fr…” but his voice was drowned by the voice of the car craft that was just about to land, from the angle where they weren’t seem that the aeroplane was dangerously aiming towards them as it come lower and lower at a high speed from the opposite direction.
“Everybody dodge!!! Ken screamed as he dragged his brother after him and they crowded under the nearest car to them. Peter, Gabade and Junior burst into uncontrollable laughter. Beatrice just stood there rigid like a statue, she was paralyzed with fear as he watched the plane coming nearer and nearer, she however, breath a sign of relief thanking God that she has not made a fool of herself because the plane made a wide arc and a dramatic turn and was now running a lone a white stripe stretch of land below where they were. This strip of land she later came to realize was called the tarmac.
Meanwhile, Uncle John was busy explaining to the bewildered Mr. Winkle who was astonished at the Twins action. The other smiled as he was made” realize that this was the boys’ first visit to the airport and seeing a real plane at close range.
Tai and Ken were shameful as they dusted themselves vigorously as if to wipe away their shameful behavior. After this they went up to the reception area to finalize Mr. Winkles departure.
As soon as Mr. Winkle were up to queue with others for check-in at the departure lounge, Uncle John took the children out to see the plane take off.
The plans went through a lot of procedure before taking off. First it takes smartly towards the other end of the air-port, turned around majestically on the beautiful tarmac and began to come back, fast or and faster it came, its noise drowning out every other noise until it suddenly lifted itself gracefully up and flew into the air. It climbed higher and higher while the children carried their neck and stained their eyes to see it grow smaller and smaller until they could no longer see even the tail-light but only the faint drone of its feeling sound as it disappear into the dark sky.
“Come on children”, Uncle John said at last it’s time to go home to bed”.
The children blinked their eyes in wonder, charting animatedly as they crowded into their car.
They were soon on their way home and by the time uncle John finally parked the car n the garage all the children were asleep and has to be roused.
During the trains two week stay in Lagos, they were taken around taken to interesting places accompanied by their cousins.
They visited the national museum where they saw a lot of artifacts including ‘Ori-olkun, they also saw some weapons of war that were used in the olden days and else women modern areas that were used during the Nigeria civil war, they saw the Mercedes Benz car in which the lots General Muritala Muhammed was killed in 1976 and some other cultural heritage of the Nigeria some of they had treated during their history lessons.
Their visit also took them to the sports stadium where they were lucky to watched a friendly match between Potland Cement and Julius berger football club. At the National Arts Theater they were entertained by a travelling dancing troop from Ghana.
On Sunday, they went to the bar-beach and Lekki peninsular where they saw some people swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, even though they told their cousins that they used to swim in one river near at home, Uncle John did not allow them to swims but hey were able to collect some colourful cowries shells to take back home.
That had the privilege of emitting one of the sky crapper buildings when their Uncle wants to visit a colleague of his working at the United Bank of Nigeria building.
Inside the lift Ken who was very perfect asked “Uncle you said this lifts is electrically operated so that will we do if the light suddenly went off.
His uncle explained that the operator has a key with which he can opens the door for them to get out of it happens.
Tai asked “should the lift refused to open due to mechanical fault does that mean that the people down their would not be able to go up and vice-versa?
Uncle John replied that there are steps within the building leading from one floor to another and sole steps too are available beside the building uncle John said”.
“Oh, how I pity those on the upper most floor” Tai said Ken terrified “I have a dizziness for height. His Uncle smiled and assured him that what he fears rarely happens, “because there is always a periodical check up and servicing of lifts and moreover there is always a stand by generating set in case of power failure” he further explained. But ken was unable to relax not until they finally left the building was he able to breath freely.
On a Friday afternoon, uncle John’s driver took the children to the railway station, the towns were excited because they have not seen a real train before except in their English course book unlike the plane which they earn sometimes hear the sound of. They have never been privileged to hear the sound of a train because none passes near their village.
At the station, they felt very baffled at the hustling and bustling gang on around them where wondering where the large crowd around them were going to and coming from. Unable to contain himself any longer, Tai asked “Mr. Opebi where all these people are hurrying to because I don’t think these two trains that I am looking at here can carry them all.
The driver smiled and replied “Not all the people you see here are travelling on the trains, some have come on sight seeing like you and some are to see off their relatives or those who are waiting for their relations or waiting for one goods coming on the train and there are some who are just loafers.
“What do you mean by loafers” asked Ken “idlers” who have nothing in particular to do here, the man replied, “some of them are even hereto steal”. “You mean vagabonds and lazy bones who would not work, Peter said using the language one of his teachers Mr. Opebi shrugged his shoulder call them what you like but they are certainly dubious characters who could not see an honest means of livelihood and the pity of it all is that they are more than real passages and they are always the ones who are greater hurry.
But can’t the government do something about it asked Beatrice, they are constituting a nuisance and menace to the real passengers you know.
Mr. Opebi shrugged again and said “come children I have a relative who is a senior officer here, let’s see if we can get permission to look inside the coaches “why didn’t you say that the lat time we were here” Junior challenged him.
“Well Mr. Ahmed has just been transferred here from Kaduna, the man explained and I was only fortunate to meet him in town some few weeks ago.
They trooped towards the door marked “ Enquiries ” here they asked of Mr. Ahmed. in the distance they could hear the ‘fooh-fooh-fooh” of an incoming trains, the children ran out the embankment to see the slowly moving train that was about to stop, they steed on the raised platform looking at the train as it shunted on to a side track.
Soon Mr. Opebi and a stout dark man come out to join them on the raised pavement and they were introduced. By the time they got to the train, the last passage on the first class coach was just getting down while a porter was assisting him with his luggage’s.
“My brother told me that you have ne…” Mr. Ahmed was about saying when peter interrupted him ‘actually we have been here before but to be candid we have never entered or see the inside of a train really.
“Well don’t worry because you are going to enter one today” said Mr. Ahmed” but first of all for this scene of your cousins whom I understand have never seen a real train before I will start by telling you that a train is made up of a lot of railway coaches joined together and pulled along by an engine. It is divided into three major parts, the first and foremost is the cab this is where the engine and the driver is, the second are the wheels that moves on the rail and then we drive carriages.
The engine can either by operated electrically or by steam and there are different types of trains, there is the passenger train which is the most common this transport people from place to place, the goods train carry goods, there are some trains that carries different types of vehicles and the tankers transport and petroleum products.
The children eyes were focused on Ahmed with rapt attention a the man continued spraying “there are some trains that move as fast as some Aeroplane and this are called express trains”.
“Waoh! whistled Tai, “I would like to see this one” Mr. Ahmed laughed but unfortunately we have not yet this type in Nigeria?.
The children felt disappointed but Mr. Ahmed quickly added “anybody come and I’ll show you the ones we have they are good too, we ought to be paid of what we have you know and the children eagerly followed him.
They were shown inside one of the carriages, they felt the seat and probe around, at first Ken did not want to enter fearing that the train might move off and carry them to an unknown destination but Mr. Ahmed allay him of his fear by telling him that Iddo is a “terminus” that is the last stop of any train which means a train that comes in cannot suddenly take off again. it has to or checked or and serviced before it can embark on another round of journey again.
He also took them to the first class cab in what they found out to their outmost bewilderment that every amen this has been provided for the comfort of the passengers.
“This is like a real bedroom” exclaimed Gbade “what, with a television, bad and all, waoh!” Mr. Ahmed smiled and excuse himself saying he has to go back to work. The children thanked him very much for this interesting and educative of the railway station, they took the –leaves talking animatedly about everything that they has heard and seen.
On Saturday evening they were taking to the alarm where they saw a Chinese movie. Ken said after wants that they were lucky that the film was submitted in English else they would not have been able to make a head or tail of what the story was all about but Tai replaced that subtitude or not he would still have engaged himself because the film was action parked not at all like watching the men wrestling at home “but then be remarked everything seems all like magic to me at first and when that man aimed his gun and fired I thought I was going to be hit”.
Peter chuckled ‘no wonder I was wondering what you were doing under the chairs when the film first started. I did not know, that you were busy dodging imaginary string bullet Junior and Gbade laughed.
Beatrice who was all the while opening and dosing her eyes rubbed them tentatively and remarked” when we came out at first I thought I had gone blind, “one shouldn’t make a habit o coming here other that screen can weaken someone’s eyes.
Oh, no, I want mind coming here again and again said Tai contradicting her.
A few days to the twins departure, Mr. Opebi took them along to the wolf to collect some parcels for Uncle John. As soon as Mr. Opebi parked the car in the visitors car park outside the gate, they all fall in line behind the large crowed that was moving towards a large iron gate manned lay tough looking guards in white and green uniform the colour of the Nigerian flag. On top of the gate was an inscription “welcome to Nigerian Ports Authority” at the entrance they were checked in by the guards who gave them visitors tally which they collected back from them when are being checked out and again.
Tai asked “why all this procedure? Mr. Opebi said” it was to make sure that people did not carry in dangerous weapons and to ensure that they did not smuggle anything out either.
“Buts there are some vehicles going in “Ken observed Mr. Opebi replied that the cars belong to the authority’s staff while the long vehicles belong to customers who do business there but you can see that nobody was exempted from the checking either to or fro.
“You mean they will even check small school children like me? “Yes, said Mr. Opebi as long as you want to enter into the premises or don’t you want to? There were seen standing admiring a very large ship on which a lot of activities was going on.
“Look at that moving vehicle Ken called their attention to a moving machine ahead. That is a crane”, Junior said and it is used in moving heavy loads.
“Look!!! it’s carrying a car from the ship, petrol shouted, he pointed at the car being lifted by the Crane unto a parked trailer near by some men were busy making sure that the car was fastened securely to the trailer which already has three cars on it.
“I think it is fully loaded now” Ken said and he watched the fourth car put in place. “You just watch and see” said Junior and soon a fifth car emerged and was placed on the first car and the trailer ended up carrying eight cars in a row, some rows of papers were given to a man who jumped into the trailer and drove off. Another trailer moved into the vacant space and it was loaded too.
The children then moved to another section of the clock yard. Here they saw a man with a mop and broom stick going up into one of the ships, Tai ran after him as the man went up the platform.
“Comes back here” shouted Mr.Opebi “where do you think you are going? He was very annoyed to he went after the boy who has already caught up with the man holding the mop and pail.
“Good day my boy” returned the man with a smile and what can I do for you? “I want to enter the ship” Tai blurted out “But why? the man asked, are you going any where in particular?
“Umm-mm “Tai fidgeted as he stammered out, I have never entered a ship before and I would love to.
By now, Mr. Opebi and the others have caught up with him “sorry to disturb you said Mr. Opebi to the man, please don’t mind him,” he added apologetically.
“B-u-t, we really wanted to see the inside of the ship, Taiwo said stubbornly “P-i-e-a-s-e.” Ken pleaded “just a glance! “oh? the man stood there thinking for sometime while all the children gazed at him expectantly.
“Come on it’s time to go” Mr. Opebi announced but none of the children seen to hear him. The man shrugged his shoulder as he finally came to a decision, letting out a sign he said “It’s nearly against protocol but I will allow you just a glance at one of the cabins that I was going to clean” please follow me”.
“Thank you very much” exhausted the children’s they gratefully trudge along behind the man up a flight of stars into a hole like door beside the ship, they soon found themselves on a narrow passage. Here the man unlocked one of the doors facing him and they all crowed into a cabin that was well furnished with a narrow bed and fastened to a corner of the wall.
“Apart from the bed that is narrowed remarked Beatrice” It’s like a real bed room” she gazed wide eyed at everything. it is even complete with every gadget needed for comfort”
Tai went over to the bed and feel it “oh! he said it is so soft” “I think I am going to be a sailor in future. “And no more a reporter or a sanitary inspector” questioned Beatrice while Ken added that the problem Tai has is wanting to be everything at the sometime but Tai said that this time he was sure he wanted to be a sailor and everybody laughed at him.
“You’ll have to leave now” the man said “every room is almost like this one except that some rooms have double bunk beds the type your house to be in your hostels or board rooms in your school.
“We are indeed very grateful to you sir for taking such a risk for us” Mr. Opebi said on behalf of the children. the man replied that it was a pleasure for him to do so returned to his cleaning while Mr. Opebi headed the reluctant children towards the door. “Goodbye and thank you very much sir ‘ the children said as they left.
And soon the days went by and it was time for the twins and their mother to go back to their village. “I hope you’ll come again soonest” peter said “Yes we hope so too” the twins said doubtfully stealing a glace at their mother when they know hated coming to Lagos and were it not for Beatrice, they would never have come on this visit at all.
“But you’ll writings soon as you get back to the village, won’t you asked Junior “we sure we will” said Tai” and I’ll let you know all that took place in your absence as soon as I get the information” he added patronizingly.
“We will also keep you informed about the going on here too? Gbade said and also about baby Sam’s progress. Beatrice, please don’t forget to write us about your new school” Ken urged his sister.
Don’t worry you will be well informed event to the tiniest details” his sister assured him. This time, the whole family was there to see the twins and their mother off even little Sam was not exempted.
Mr. Opebi as usual drove the children in the station wagon while Uncle John took the sports car with his wife sitting beside him carrying little Sam and Mrs. Adams sitting at the back of Uncle John’s car.
At the motor park Peter clinged to Tai and said I am going to miss you terribly. “And so would I” the other said “but why don’t you come and visit us in the village one of this days and I will take you on my hunting expeditions and you’ll love it.
That’s a good idea said Peter “ daddy can we go to the village during our next holiday? “Well, Mr. Oju nodded his head thoughtfully “I too have been contemplating on taking you on tour of your village but you’ll have to wait a little while until they finish the bore-hole because your mother is afraid of you having typhoid fever.
“And most especially malaria” said Mr. Oju but junior said “well take our mosquito nets and insect killer along his mother retorted you’ll have to wait a little while more” with finality in her voice.
Mrs. Adam wanted the twins to lap each other but as they could not agree as to who should lap who. Uncle John has to intervene by asking the two boys to sit separately but their mother protested saying it was a waste of money but her brother said it was a send off treat for the children, so it was settled that the boys should sit separately. However, they started another argument about who ought to sit near the window, their mother pushed both of them aside and sat there which settled.
The Oju family waited patiently for the bus to fill up, chatting with other passengers and others like themselves who had come to see their relative off until the fourteen seater bus was fully loaded.
Then they bid the twins and their mother goodbye waving and waving until the bus was out of the motor park. Beatrice hid her eyes in her hands to hide her tears, she felt very sad and lonely to be left behind, his was the first time she would be painted from the family and she has missed then already.
It was not until the bus was finally out of sight did the Oju’s went back to their cars. Peter went to Beatrice’s side putting his arms comfortingly “we are your family too” she said “and we’ll take very good care of you” Beatrice managed to smile at the younger boy.
This time however Mrs. Oju and little Sam went along with the cities because Uncle John has a meeting to attend in another part of the town.
As soon s the twins left, it was as if all activities in the Oju’s family was paralysed as the resulted back to routine and the occasional birthday parties they were invited to but Mrs. Oju would not allow some to go with the others saying that she had first to get used to Lagos so that she won’t be a misfit of such parties.
Soon the holidays was over and it was time to resume schools.
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