The Gentleman

Forgive me if this my story suffers from literary weakness; even I am exhausted as I write.
I was invited to give a career talk in Rough City and even though I had other plans, I aborted them since I saw an opportunity to touch the lives of some young ones.
After a lot of lonely treks and ‘body-squeezing’ in vehicles, I eventually got to the point where the organiser planned to pick me. When he told me he was coming to pick me, I thought he meant he was coming with a car but he really meant ‘pick’ with hands and legs.
I called and informed him and then, since I was already exhausted and tired, I looked around for a place where I could down a cold drink for  my long and dry throat. I saw a woman with a kiosk and asked if she sold drinks. She shook her head and as I looked at the ‘drinks’ she had, they were all brown-coloured drinks in used water bottles.
These were not drinks for gentlemen like me or professors- they were drinks for drivers to share with their conductors.
‘Okay, do you have water?’ I asked.
She brought out water and handed it to me. But lo, it was not even cold.
‘You no get cold one?’ I asked again.
She turned and looked at me with a loud expression that says ‘Are you a learner?’
I quickly ‘gave myself brain’, took the water and left.
Eventually I got to the programme, finished with it and headed back. I was handed a drink and snacks for my struggles as I left only to realize my struggle had just started.
This is where the story starts from.
The return bus I boarded dropped us in the middle of nowhere. Well, maybe I was the only passenger who could not recognize the ‘where’. I came down looking like a rat among cats- totally unsure of where to turn to.
So I tried to recall this strange land from the first leg of the journey- but I scratched my cerebellum to no avail.
Instead of asking for directions, I put on a brave face and faced a certain direction as if I was one of the town planners who designed the city.
With my long strides, I walked to a place, in my head, where I could take a bus back home. I secured my snacks in the nylon I was given and dropped my purse and phone into it.
This is Rough city, a place where a certain boy could run along, snatch your belongings and leave you praying for a chariot of fire to pursue him.
Soon, in my blind wanderings, I came to a street that I thought I recognized. My confidence was boosted and I was able to look at the surroundings and analyze the scenes I was witnessing.
A girl sat in front of a shop, weeping and wailing while a large crowd were gathered in front of the shop beside her.
‘Put pepper for her yansh’, one old woman blurted out.
I analyzed the scene and concluded that the girl lost or stole some money from her guardian who is now ready to rain fire and brimstone on her head.
My FBI detective mode was deactivated when I looked around and finally realized I didn’t even know where I was.
Where I wanted to be was supposed to be far rougher than where I found myself. And the drivers of buses around where calling a street I know is  in the outskirts of the Rough city.
The detective in me stood up again and whispered,
‘Vicky, after a lot of tests and critical thinking, I declare that you are officially lost!’
I refused to believe it. I mean how can I, as old as I am, with all my good Facebook posts, get lost?
Immediately, I decided to humble myself and ask people for directions. But as I believe you know, you can’t just walk up to any person and ask for directions. If you do that, you might just wake up the next morning in a thatched hut somewhere, and an old man with chalk around his eyes circling calabash around your good head.
So I widened my small eyeballs and scanned through the mass of people around me. My eyes eventually settled on a guy who looked like Samuel in the Bible. As I began approaching him, he put his phone to his hear to make or take a call.
‘E clear!’ I said to myself as I walked past him, expertly hiding away my lost and forlorn look.
‘Wait! Google map’.
I realized I can easily get my directions from Google map application on my face and immediately I tried it.
Yes, indeed, it brought out a map, it indicated my position and showed the road that was supposed to lead me to my destination. But all the names of the streets I saw were totally strange to me. They could be names of streets in heaven for all I know.
So I scrolled down and eventually saw the name of the junction I have been looking for but I had to turn back to get there.
My confidence returned and I walked pass ‘Samuel’ without even looking twice at him. I even saw two guys threatening each other. One was holding the weary-looking trousers of the other guy while he was shouting,
‘Leave my trousers or I go destroy you!’
I shut down my detective mind and refused to analyze what had happened. I had an heaven to get to, a goal of life to achieve, I will not be moved by a promising live Mortal Kombat.
I walked on and on, looking for that junction. My map firmly placed in my hand and my gaze looking onwards, I marched on, dodging other passers-by.
Soon, I passed beside a car and beheld my reflection from its glass.
I shook my head at what I saw. Pimples had started gathering in my face, sweat was streaking down my forehead and I thanked God no ‘Marriage candidate’ saw me then, it would have destroyed my CV. In fact, to tell you how I looked by now, I will tell you to divide the look on my profile picture by 12, whatever you are left with is the correct appearance I bore at that time.
Eventually, I got to the place my map indicated was the junction but in reality, it was not. Maybe the geographer who drew the map forgot or not, I do not know till now. Or maybe I am the one who is just an ignoramus that did not even know what I was looking for. In fact, I ended up in the particular position where I started the wandering and I was still as lost has about 15 minutes ago when I started.
I couldn’t help but remember one of my favourite philosophical quote by T. S. Eliot,
‘…the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.’
In my weariness and hunger, I had no much time to philosophize. I had to get my mind back to the issue at hand. I, a gentleman, was lost in the city called Rough. And with that realization came a hopeless humility.
All my bravado left me as I jettisoned my Tab and its ambiguous map and quickly walked up to the next nice-looking man and asked him for the location.
He pointed to it and I walked towards that direction. As I got near, everything came back to me, I finally recognized the peculiar roughness of the junction and knew I was almost home.
But as the journey had thought me, I did not depend on my memory; I asked another man where they take buses and he also helped me out.
So I got there and heard bus drivers calling my supposed destination. A woman was also among the drivers and for reasons unknown to me, I entered the woman-driver’s bus.
As I got home and took the snacks, I lied down and finished this story.


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