The jolt killed whatever laughter was left in our throats. We had been laughing at my comparatives and superlatives for beautiful. I had just finished telling Daddy that my teacher in class had said my ‘beautifuller and beautifullest ‘ respectively were not correct.
I had even gone on to justify my answer: if the comparative and superlative for ‘full’ were ‘fuller’ and fullest’, why not ‘beautifuler and beautifullest?’
Daddy had thrown back his head and laughed as did my sisters and brother. I am not sure Amina knew the answer, but she laughed too. The crash of course killed our fun.Daddy came down from the car to inspect the damage and all the while he kept muttering,
“Oh dear. Oh dear”.
We got down too and I just saw water and oil on the ground. I heard lagrator, injine oil….
The man in the van did come round too. He kept saying “Oga sorry sah. Oga sorry sah”.Daddy was quiet for a moment and many people had gathered. I think that place was a mechanic village or market. Many of the men there were Igbo as was the driver of the car. He had on clothes soiled with grease too.
“O boy, wetin we go do now?” Daddy finally asked him.
“Oga, if you get time, we fit repair am”. Someone from the crowd said.
“Now?” Daddy asked.
“Ah, oga, make we do am tomorrow morning”
“Nnoo”, Daddy won’t hear of it. They argued for a while and before we knew it, several people were working on Daddy’s car all at once. We went back into one of the stalls to wait and Daddy left us to go into town. He said he was going to look up someone he knew, Incase we had to spend the night in Gusau.
Night had already spread her blanket of darkness when the mechanics announced that they were done, but insisted that the spraying must wait until morning. Daddy thanked them profusely and once more we took our seats in the car. Hajarah was the youngest with us and she sat with Zuwairah in the front seat. Shehu Amina and I huddled up in the back seat with our sweaters and blankets. At first we thought we were going to spend the night in Gusau, with the nice gentleman that had brought Daddy back in his car, but that was not Daddy’s plan. He had already made up his mind to set out for Donga on that day and nothing was going to stop him.
I was a little disappointed because I had planned on taking note of every landmark we passed, intending to writ about it when school resumed, I wanted to make my journey an adventure, the kind Alade and Biola had in the English textbook we had began to read. I had even started taking down names of the villages we had passed before reaching Gusau. I asked Daddy how I was going to see Kwatarkwashi if we passed it at night. You see, I had read a Hausa novel, a fantasy so to say, titled “So, Aljannar Duniya”. Maa had told me that that story was true and that the genie from that story lived in Kwatarkwashi. And she said the rock used to appear and disappear at will.I don’t know how long we drove for for I had slept, but Daddy was waking me up to see Kwatarkwashi before we passed. And he also told me the places we passed so I could write them down. I don’t think I did for I had already lost interest. Might have been just sleep.
Our next stop was Penbegwa. I remember we laughed so hard at the name. We stopped at a restaurant to eat. They were already closed but did let us in. The food we ate they gave us free. Daddy thanked them, two women who wished us a safe journey and even gave Hajarah free chicken when she just wouldn’t shut up about it.
One reason I think Maa preferred to travel alone was that Daddy liked taking ‘short cuts’. These usually turned longer than the main roads. This night I think we took one of such.