In 2013, I missed my flight to US via Qatar airways. I had to squeeze out $200 to go with the next flight. From then, I carved a golden rule – I must be at the airport 2 hours before an international flight. Sometimes, I breach the rule but I try to get in at least one and half hours before the flight.
I was on my way to London. And I was one of the last passengers to be checked in. While the Customs folks were checking my luggage, a woman beckoned to me.
“My brother, please I need to send this dress to my sister in London. They have a function on Saturday. Can you please help?” She pleaded.
I paused. I tried to weigh the request. I hesitated but everyone around, including the Customs officials, said that I should help her.
“Help her nau, na your sister”
Everyone she asked earlier declined. I wavered.
“Can I do this?” I thought and added with bated breath. “Madam, bring it.”
She passed over the dress and a piece of paper with details.
I tucked it into my box. I checked it in but suddenly fear enveloped me.
“What did I just do? Have I been set up?” The questions rushed at me.
“What if there are drugs in that dress, tucked in the hem, what will be my explanation? Is this how I will end up in jail?” I worried.
My mind did not rest. My body shook as I passed through the immigration protocols.
I did not even have the woman’s phone number. I mean the one who gave me the dress.
So, if anything happens, I really did not have anyone to call here. Fear made my throat dry. But made my bladder full. I went to the toilet. My legs quivered, still.
I decided to try the number of the recipient of the dress. I thought about it. Let me call this person, I mean the person I was going to give the luggage.
I dial. It did not ring.
Then, a response. “The number, you are dialing does not exist.” The voice returned.
“Wow. I am in trouble.” I thought.
“Something is wrong. Something is wrong.” I tried to reason out what it was.
“I have been set up. These are drugs.” I worried again.
So, I checked the Internet for the name and the address. I found something. A I found a first name through the address. Relief. At least, she exists. I calmed down a bit. I looked hard at the phone numbers. No leads.
I kept looking. kept waiting. To see if someone will come around and harass me and hound me to jail. I remembered that the day I missed my Qatar Airways flight, I saw a jail room in the upper part of Murtala Mohammed Airways. Fear took over me again. Mo ti daran
Later while I waited, still a bit scared, I got an email from the owner of the dress stating her full address and number. I exhaled.
Then, I picked my phone and called her. The phone rang this time. And she picked.
“Hello my name is Seun. I have been told to give you a dress in London?”
“Yes, this is Ifeoma, thank you for doing this,” a soft voice replied.
My feet stopped shaking.
“I wish you a safe flight.”
“I will email you when I am in.” The call ended.
I got into the plane, sure of who I was giving the package to. But am I sure it is only a dress?
I could not sleep throughout the six-hour flight. My mind wandered and worried. I watched a movie to pass time. As soon as I sighted London, another bout of fear gripped me.
“What if NDLEA did not check properly? What do I do?”
We came down from the plane, did all the immigration checks but the most important place was to find my luggage on the carousel.
I raced to the carousel. I found it there lying and rolling around. My luggage. No policemen to check on me or ask questions. I sat down and breathed heavily. That was too much of a risk. A man has to know when to stop.