The rest of the journey home was more like travelling through a park in a giant pod. I satisfied my eyes staring through the tinted glass, at the high rise buildings on the right. This was nothing like the Lagos Island I used to know. Couldn’t even say which was the Third Mainland Bridge, or if there was a Fourth. The road shone with a lustrous black reflection, like newly polished boots. Of all the distraction that dazzled my eyes, it was the extraordinarily lanky skyscrapers which seemed to want to pierce the sky that got my attention the most. It was nothing compared to the CMS buildings I was familiar with around Eko. The roads were wider with at least six, or so. I couldn’t help but think if all the cars on the road were self-driven.
Each time a question popped up in my mind, I gurgled on the fizzy drink that Cinda had handed to me on the journey.
“Suss, we are five minutes away from Bay, would you want to pay a call through to security?” Peter’s voice once again squeaked from the speakers.
“Sure, please contact security.” Suss responded and went back to her talk with Clay. From their conversation, Clay must be in her first year as a History student in the University. For a while, attention was off me, and I was glad. I couldn’t make out Peter’s voice as he contacted security. The speakers had suddenly been turned off.
Joko left her seat and came to seat beside me. Her arms were wrapped around my shoulder, and from the way she looked at me, I could sense I must be something more to her. Maybe I’m her boyfriend. Or could I have been married to her? Naaaaaa. “Everyone is waiting for you. Glad to have you back, Sammie.”
Glad to have you back… Did she have to say that every time? Although she spared no emotions from her face, I felt she was reading a script. “I’m happy to be back too,” I smiled. So far, my Sales Man skills had come in handy. It wasn’t difficult to smile genuinely, even if there were no reasons. I could choose to even smile in my sleep… Actually, I am doing just that now.
A few minutes later I felt the vehicle slow down, and I looked out of the window. Even though I struggled to comprehend how I happened to be experiencing the future, whether through a dream, a trance, or some sort of time travel, I didn’t want this to end. I was inquisitive to learn a few more things. If I happened to wake up from this dream at this moment, I might as well kill myself.
I watched the gates to some estate part before us. On the pillar to one side, I saw the inscription which read: Lagos Bay. On the crest of the pillar was the small statute of an angel-like creature. It held a sword in one hand and an open book in the other. Was it staring at me? I looked away.
The vehicle skidded down a road that snaked through a valley, and unto a bridge that ran over a rushing stream. There were a few scattered mansions surrounded by hectares of green hills, reminding me of the Swedish farms from my Lady Bird picture books. I was taking all this in. From the topography, this was a mountainous island with rich vegetation. Where was this some sixty years ago? It looked more like something that was modeled after twentieth century’s early curations.
I noticed everyone in the vehicle was watching me with awe. Or was it concern? I didn’t smile back this time. I pressed my lips together. “Do you remember?” Suss asked me.
I looked in her eyes. The question carried a certain kind of weight. I was supposed to remember this place, right? This is certainly where I was born. Rather, where Sam was born. His life must have revolved round this place. No, I didn’t remember. Couldn’t.
For the first time I sensed this people felt more pain than I did. It was in their eyes. For the first time I wished I could at least remember something. Or someone. If not for me, then for Suss; for Dan and Cinda, and Clay. And Joko. And maybe everyone. I had to remember.
“No.” I said, looking straight into Suss’ eye. “I don’t remember. Can you help me to?” My eyes had gone misty. There seemed to be a lot at stake here. How were things here before the accident? How did they cope the whole three months Sam was away? Who was Sam? How did he live? And now that I was in his skin, how was I supposed to live?
“We will.” Suss held my hand in hers. “We will.”
The vehicle had navigated a few corners and it finally stopped just by the giant pouch of a mansion. I was already straining my head for a full look before the vehicle door slowly swung open.
I stepped out unto the evening breeze, the sun a little shaded by the clouds. The stealthy wind bashed on my face with a refreshing assuredness. Suss held my right hand and led me up the stairs. Everything was white and exquisite. The concrete and panes seemed freshly painted; the marble stones newly polished. A big brown oak door stood before us. As we came closer, it parted in a deliberate slow manner.
Just as I was about to take in the sight of the inside of the hall, a burst of light shredded my attention in a million directions. I remembered the last time I had something this close. It was in my room.
The noise from the hall was the only thing that made me rest assured that I was still here, in my dream.
I slowly opened my eyes, and before me was a huge crowd of both old and young people of different skin colours. The noise was a mixture of cheers, claps, whistling, and music from deafening speakers.
Two huge banners that hung across the room, read ‘Welcome Back, Sammie.’
Soon, I was lost in the crowd like a pin in a hay stack, as everyone pressed to give me a hug. If this was the dinner Suss spoke about, then I had to begin to understand her for her words.
The banquet was set in the middle of the hall, but Suss spoke into my ears about waiting a few minutes for my dad to arrive. So, I kept shaking hands, receiving kisses and hugs, and bumping shoulders as deemed fit. I just kept saying ‘wows’ here and ‘thank yous’ there at people who knew me so well, but I had no idea whatsoever who they were.
A lot of presents now stood piled high like a mole hill at a corner, but to take a breather I allowed Joko lead me down the hallway. She seemed sound and intelligent, possessing a voice texture characterized of royal children. Cultured chins, luscious lips, matched with almost round eyes. She had changed into a lovely dinner gown within minutes of our arrival to the house. Now she was ravishingly irresistible. The way she held my left arm made me feel like Prince William with the Duchess of Cambridge.
No. This was 2075, either the Prince had become King, dead; or Prince George his son was now king. Or dead.
Joko had an accent that seemed lost. I couldn’t place it anyway. She was pleasant, worry-free and her laughter was easily contagious. She showed me a few rooms close by.
“After dinner, we will have all the time to ourselves.” She looked me in the eyes as if to be sure I knew what she meant.
On our left were family portraits. First on the wall was Cinda’s picture. She must have been 10 in this picture. The next was Clay’s. I read her full name. It was impressive – the bronze design the picture was framed in. I gave a quick scan at the rest of the pictures down the both sides of the hall.
Joko seemed to be reading my mind. “There goes the family genealogy on the wall,” she waved her hand down the rolls of pillars that held the building.
I seemed to buckle up and began to search through the pictures. I traced the frames with my fingers as I went in search for something. Joko nervously hoped my memory was returning, as she dashed down the hall with me. She watched my lips move, not hearing what I said. She wanted to ask, but didn’t want to break the flow. The juice she thought, was flowing.
As I drew closer to the end of the wall that bore the history of the family, my fingers began to twitch. My lips began to tremble, and my knees could barely hold my weight. I saw a picture of Suss when she was younger. Her hair glowed.
“This is your dad’s picture,” Joko said, watching if she answered any of my worries. The face looked familiar, but I simply nodded my head, and moved on.
I stood before the next frame on the wall. The image stared back at me. I smiled even though my hands shook vigorously. I read the name at the base of the picture: Sir Eli George Akinfe (1988-2073).
“And that’s your granddad.”
I shut my eyes and reopened them. I saw those very familiar tribal marks that stood one stroke apiece on each cheek.
This was sure a dream, but this was also my future.
I turned to look at the bearer of the voice. He was the one I had seen in the picture just before the one I stood by. He was about six feet tall, somewhere in his fifties, but looked a bit impressive. I couldn’t help but think what kind of father I had been to him. I looked him in the eyes, and I could see a piece of me.
Hello, son. I shut my eyes and reopened them.
“Hello, dad.” I was finally able to say something.