I used to be puzzled by people who were scared to fly. I was never scared. Once I got into the plane, I would fall asleep till it was time to land.
That all changed one day.
I was dating Mr N and we alternated visits because I was in Abuja and he was in Lagos. I was going to see him. I told only my older sister (we lived together) and set off. First of all, the flight that was for 7pm was delayed for hours till midnight. More than half of the passengers decided against travelling and were taken to a hotel to spend the night. I decided to go despite the fact that there was a rumour that the plane came in late because it had issues and had been worked on.
It took off without issues. Midway, we started experiencing turbulence. I was still calm, it happens. Then all of a sudden, it seemed as though the plane lost altitude. My people, my life flashed before me. It felt as though I was free falling and my feet could not find the ground. Both my ears felt like they needed to be popped and my head became woozy. People began to shout. I gripped the seat in front of me and could not even pray.
“Chai! Why was I stubborn? I should have followed them to the hotel.”
The woman across from me was resolutely praying. She was declaring, kabashing, snapping her fingers and commanding. All I could think of was… “Jesu, Baba God, she seems close to you, abeg, hear her prayers. If you had decided to kee me for following man to Lagos, please spare me because of her.”
She was not the only person praying. The whole plane was like a Mountain of Fire church in the throes of punishing wicked enemies. And believe me, nobody minded.
Another thought crossed my mind.
“What if this my boyfriend ‘didn’t worth it’?” Was that how my parents would know that I had my eyes set on one yellow dude in Ogudu?
When that plane eventually landed, there was a huge applause and a lot of hi fives. Who wan die? We were not even angry at the airline. A near death experience (permit the exaggeration) has a way of making one very forgiving and repentant.
Was that the last time I got into a plane to see Mr N? No way, but at least we eventually got married.
Since that day, I became a nervous flier. If I have to travel by air, I will worry so much that I almost always end up buying last minute expensive tickets. I never sleep during the flight (except international flights, the aircrafts seem very sturdy).
Whenever I have a memorable encounter at check in, I would wonder whether the staff would remember the funny lady that laughed with her if the plane crashed. If there were children in the plane, I would imagine the headlines “FAMILY OF FOUR KILLED….” Believe me, that is how morbid my thoughts get. I also pray a lot before flying. The most sincere prayers of my life, the kind that have me repenting for perming my hair just in case “Deeper Life” people are right after all.
When turbulence starts, I pray in my heart. I still can’t get Bimbo Odukoya out of my head when I pray.
“If she died in a plane crash after being a big woman of God, who are you?” Of course, I know it is the devil trying to detract me so I bind him and pray on. Recently, he has added Myles Munroe to the list to pester me. I can’t compete with both people, so I tell God, that at least they impacted on the lives of many, I still have plenty to do.
I listen closely to the voice of the pilot. Please do not crucify me for this but if I hear an Ogbomosho or Abakaliki accent and the like, my heart starts pounding and hoping that they did not cut corners in flying school. When I hear an Oyinbo accent, I calm down a bit till I remember that the pilot of the Dana Airline was Oyinbo as well. I look closely at the hostesses, desperately searching for worry or fear. And lastly I look at the passengers, I still can’t figure who looks holy enough but I am working on it.
In June I flew with my kids and when some turbulence started, my 2 year old screamed in fear (even baby knew that could not be good). My four year old asked me, “Mummy, what is that?”
“Whenever the plane is flying through a cloud it shakes.”
He looked at me calmly and said, “Mummy, I think you are lying, I think the plane is going to crash.”
I fought fear with all my heart and reassured him. I told them both to close their eyes and sleep and for the first time since I gave birth to them, an instruction to close their eyes and sleep worked.
So even kids know what is up.
I had cause to fly during the week, I wanted to call my pastor (as usual) but I felt slightly self-conscious so I sent him a text that I was about to take off. He called me immediately and prayed for me. I said my ‘amens’ without minding anybody…
Well, flying is not all that bad. The best part is when we finally touch down.
I heave a sigh of relief, the world is ok again. I am going to live long and grow old. I begin to dream about life and I wilfully disobey the instruction not to switch on my phone till the plane stops. I immediately send necessary text messages that do not convey the whole drama that happened in my heart and head during the flight. The messages usually contain only one word.