I don’t know how to read signs, be it on the road, on peoples’ faces, even the weather. I just don’t know how to tell these things.
So, I would often go out to places and end up shivering while everyone is warmly dressed or I’d be the last to know a certain person doesn’t like me whereas I’d have been busy saving seats for them and getting concerned about their wellbeing or sometimes, the person will like me, and I’d be carefully avoiding him or her or I’d get suspicious, wondering if they were serial killers or something.
I can be that clueless and I’m not even sure whether it’s a gift of stupidity or of bliss. Whatever it is, I have to live with it. Does it terrify me? I don’t know! Should I be? Many times, I prefer not to know.
Now, this cluelessness often annoys the crap out of my close friends who are often burdened with the extra job of reading my signs for me. (Looking heavenwards) Thank God for great friends!
One came handy when I had a help who was 7 and a half months pregnant right under my nose and I didn’t even know! My friend came over and told me, “Ore, e bi like say this girl don carry belle, o”
I gave him the evil eye and shot back, “You have come with your bad mouth, na you gi am belle? She’s not pregnant, she’s just a healthy eater, see, she finished than pot of rice, all by herself.”
He did yimu and waka’d away.
I was later to swallow my words when a family member literally pulled me by the ear to make me take the girl for a scan and there at the lab, the attendant announced gleefully after the scan, “Madam, congratulations, your sister is almost 8months pregnant, expect a baby girl!”
The other time, a friend said he suspected his driver was stealing him blind and he wanted to fire the guy. I pleaded, so sure I was right about the man.
“This one is a family man, haba, why would he steal and jeopardize his family’s well-being? See, he’s such a caring fellow. He asked after my health several times after he brought you to visit me at the hospital. Thieves are generally not caring…”
Aha! We soon discovered the driver had been withdrawing serious cash from my friend’s account with my friend’s ATM! Don’t ask me how he got the PIN.
Yeah, that’s how cool I am with signs.
In Lagos, I pretty much rely on my wits when on the road…which is usually wrong. Lagosians joyfully point you in the wrong directions; I’m guessing they don’t know any better. I’ve had people point me in the wrong way with such assurance that galls.
So, that was how I found myself in London, the city of signs with two teenagers in tow. We were on our way to dinner, an invite from a friend. You know how oyibo people like to keep to time and all, she told me to leave at 4.30pm, dinner was at 7pm but the naija in me set off late, I figured, “Shebi its only one hour across, no traffic, no unnecessary police/driver wahala or broken down vehicles that always cause a snarl on Lagos roads, we will get there in record time.
We were to navigate from Kilburn to somewhere past Lewisham, tube first, then bus. I thought I had it all figured out. The friend had also sent directions, what else did I need? Show up.
We set out and promptly lost our way. I read the signs wrong…again. One of my teenagers finally asked, “Are you even sure you are reading the right signs?” she was visibly irritated and getting dizzy from all the escalators and rigmarole.
I was already annoyed at myself at this point and didn’t need any smart kid telling me things, so I fired back, “Are you even sure you want to ask me that question?”
Take the 186 bus going to Holly Oak, my friend had directed in the sms she sent to me. What did I do? I took the 186 bus going to Kings Cross. Why? I foolishly said to myself, it’s the same 186 bus, they are heading towards the same direction, what difference does it make?
Stupid, a difference of 1 hour 30 minutes in the wrong direction, entirely opposite direction!
It took my teenager’s question to make me realize this fact; if you lose your way, open your mouth to ask for directions and if you are so blessed with friends and family and even strangers who are willing to point you in the right direction, take the effing advise and move on!
Did we finally make it to dinner, yeah…we did…eventually…two full hours behind schedule, our host had to warm the food all over again…I’m really thankful to friends I have around me.