If I am ever part of a crowd to which this question is posed – “How many of you like to fly?” be sure that my hand will never go up. But should the question, “Do you like travelling?” be asked, my hand will shoot up like an eager child – ‘I sah! Me! Me!
I hate flying.
I’m waiting for someone to invent a magic carpet or a time capsule for people like me, who enjoy travelling but hate the process of travel. Yeah I know, the journey is also part of the travel but mehn!
My first encounter with a plane was at the age of eight. My father was then in the Air force, so I flew on the C130 Hercules from Lagos to Kaduna. All through that flight, my head stayed permanently between my legs.
I have since flown on different types of aircrafts, helicopters, too, thanks to being an Air force child plus of course commercial airlines as well and all of these always leave the contents of my stomach either on my feet or my lap. I have since learned that my type should avoid breakfast or any meal before flying.
So I found myself recently on one of the world’s best airlines. Having flown with them four or five times previously, I figured I had a pretty good idea of how they did things. Take offs have always been one of my greatest nightmares but with this airline, the content of my stomach remained inside of me and because of the previous, non-stomach churning experiences, I grew bold and attacked a bowl of pasta before my flight.
We were doing fine; take off was smooth, as I expected, however, 30-40 minutes later, the seat belt sign came on, turbulence, they told us and the stewards were advised to hold off serving meals. Me, I had my eyes glued to a movie and wasn’t bothered. What’s turbulence, biko? I wanted them to remove the sign from my screen, it was interrupting my view.
The turbulence soon got my attention, it lasted for more than 10 minutes. (I stopped counting after 10 minutes.) It was like being in a molue on its way to Agege and I am not talking today, I am talking 1990.
My pasta had roiled with all the tea I consumed plus the spring rolls I nipped from my daughter’s plate that morning, and maybe even added to that was the remnants of yesterday’s meal hidden some place in my gut which had also begun to stir in anger from being relegated to waste.
The mix of gas and glut rose up my esophagus, yes, I still remember my biology, that’s what it’s called- the tract from your stomach to your mouth, it rose all the way to my mouth making it balloon and popping my eyes until it stung me to tears.
If I’d been a white woman, my knuckles on the hand rest would have turned blue but me black so me turned grey.
I looked around and spotted a few scare-dy cats like me; one Chinese shut his eyes so tight I felt they would sink back into his head, another passenger had adopted the brace position. Bros, e no go reach that side, forever, so long as I’m here, o!
A baby was just crying, not from fear, I’m sure, maybe from all the discomfort of being held tight by the mother, people who travel with babies dey try.
I wasn’t thinking of saying any prayers, I was concerned about my self-respect; as my stomach threatened violently to dish my breakfast on the most visible spots on my lap. Flashes of other passengers pointing me out as the woman who disgusted everyone in the plane wouldn’t leave me.
Thankfully the turbulence stopped and the stewards got up to continue serving. Me? I rushed up to the toilet to empty myself.
It would have made me happy to tell you I went in there and was fine and all but no. I was confronted with a line of people, men, women, little boys and girls, some, the kids especially, bouncing on one leg with the urgency of people who live in a face-me-I-face-you apartment and who have to share a common toilet. I looked down the aisle to the other toilets, same thing. Wahala dey!
The line of people is another story on its own, but did I eventually relieve myself? I did. Thankfully. And I tried to enjoy the rest of the journey until I got to my destination and was told my bag was missing!