I wrote this after a visit to Allen Avenue …. themes came to mind. Sophisticated students, sleek cars and sleek women looking for men with big wallets, dreams and illusions … laid to rest on Lagos streets, in some sordid alley, or the back of a car….
Hope that fame and fortune can be found on the streets of London, is like the fairy tale of Dick Whittington – a deadly Ilusion.
Ilusions of Hope
Sandra cared for Felix but realised that someday soon, the practical matters of finance would kill any kind of feelings she had for him – so England seemed like a good option. Many people had made a good life over there- the big men who threw money around like water talked of the place as if it was the back of their compound.
Once she got a job and made some money, she would send for him. She hadn’t spent all these weeks praying and fasting for nothing. Praying for God to forgive her sins and touch the stony hearts of the white people at the British High Commission so they could grant her a six-month visa.
Then, she could go over there, start working and disappear into the ever-swelling abyss; the underpaid underworld that did the jobs the British wouldn’t do. She didn’t care if it was smelly manual labour; she wasn’t afraid of hard work. She was more afraid of remaining in this city and watching her age mates succeed in life, while she remained in poverty.
It was 2004 and some people said that England was at risk from terrorists since the invasion of Iraq, but couldn’t that happen anywhere? Safety now had no geographical home. It was an illusion of hope and would always remain so, no matter what any government said. Even the Americans with all their money could not protect themselves anymore. She might as well pursue her dreams and put her trust in God.
She had her letter from her cousin in London who had ‘promised’ to pay her fees. She was going to be a student. Armed with a letter offering her admission to college somewhere in Peckham, and her cousins bank statement bulging with the money he had borrowed from a few friends – she hoped to convince the officials at the British High Commission in Lagos that she was not going to need any money from the great people of Britain.
She wiped her brow. The fan was on full blast but it didn’t matter, she was strung up. She checked her folder of documents. Her School Certificates, her University degree…testimonials, references from her employers and the money for her visa application that smouldered in her purse.
A month ago she had gone to Allen Avenue and got herself picked up by a rich businessman who had paid her well for her reluctant favours. Afterwards she had stumbled onto a bus, got home, stayed in the bathroom pouring hot water over herself as she scrubbed herself raw. She spent the night curled up on the sofa watching Felix sleeping like an innocent baby.