‘Always Guiding’

‘Always Guiding’

“Ija wa, ija o si…”

It is funny how the more things change, the more they remain the same. You think you have left the past behind, only to find it following you everywhere you go, like a shadow.  

Check your phone and wallet!

That was the thought that flashed through my mind as somebody bumped into me in the process of getting off the bus. Pulse racing, my hand flew to my pocket to confirm if it still held its precious cargo.  

Of course, both items were in place.

Walking down a lonely road at a few minutes before ten later that night, my ears caught the faint sound of feet shuffling behind me.

Quick as can be, I spun around, fists up. My sensei would have been proud.

“Hi, mate. Are you alright?” greeted my fellow traveler, probably more startled at my fighting stance than the sudden movement.

“Yeah, man. I am,” I answered while slowly unclenching my hands.

Hopefully my smile didn’t look as sheepish as it felt. 

A lifetime of living on the edge makes paranoia your best friend. It is an automatic survival response, programmed into your very core by decades of residing in a predatory environment. One is already changing gear to fight or fly as harrowing episodes of the past taught one, before realizing that things are no longer the way they used to be. Cities have changed.  A rueful smile usually becomes evident as one consciously disengages the adrenalin pump and orders battle stations to stand down.

Rome was not built in a day, so I know it will most like take some time to completely stop sensing danger at every turn. I don’t even know if it will ever happen, but I am happy to take the journey one step at a time, one day at a time. Until then, I will keep explaining to anyone who doesn’t get why I am always kind of jumpy.

“I am from Lagos. Ija wa, ija o si, always guiding.”

They probably will never understand, and that’s just fine.

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