(Zikoko is at the airport trying to catch a flight to Abuja, when suddenly, commotion ensues. The security officers are escorting a box that’s kicking and screaming. Out of curiosity, Zikoko approaches the box and convinces the security officers to let it go.)
Travelling Bag: Thank you for that, who are you?
Zikoko: My name is Zikoko, and it’s fine. No one deserves to be treated that way — unless they eat things like okro and ice cream.
Zikoko: Never mind. Why were they dragging you anyways?
TB: Don’t mind those useless people o. I was trying to board a flight to London when they started screaming and shouting at me. They even threatened to arrest me. For what?
Zikoko: That’s terrible. What airline? We need to see the manager. We’d make sure the people responsible get punished. It’s not right to treat a customer like this.
TB: I’m not a customer.
Zikoko: I don’t understand.
TB: I said I wanted to board flight. Did I tell you I’m a customer?
Zikoko: How can you board the flight if you’re not a customer?
TB: I don’t know o. I sha wanted to try. In this economy, do you think I have money for a plane ticket? I wanted to japa, and I was trying different methods.
Zikoko: AH? It’s not by force to leave the country nau. What’s doing you?
TB: Zikoko, how many people do you know that have left the country?
Zikoko: Like seven this month
TB: Exactly. Do you know what these people do when they want to leave? They buy a lot of new things to take on their trip. Including new travelling bags. [sighs]. Let me tell you my story.
I’d been with my previous owner since before he was born. His mother bought me when she was moving to her husband’s house in 1990, and I’ve been in their life ever since then.
Zikoko: That’s a very long time. You must be quite attached to that family
TB: I am. I witnessed the birth of their only child. How many people can say that? I was the bag they took to the hospital during the baby’s delivery. I kept the pacifier, bib, oversized clothes, flasks and everything they needed safe. While she delivered the baby, I was on a seat anxiously waiting.
As the baby grew up, my use shifted to accommodate whatever he needed me for. Do you know I went to secondary school with him? I was by his side for six years in boarding school, sustaining injuries left and right because teenage boys just do anyhow. Even when someone stole me from him, I found my way back.
Zikoko: It’s like I’ll miss my flight o, but I need to get to the bottom of this. Please tell me more about your longsuffering
TB: Yes, my suffering has been long. Guess who went with him to the university when he got admission to study engineering? Me! In another overcrowded boys’ hostel, I remained by his side. I was there when they were cooking enough beans to feed the Nigerian army. The only time I got cleaned was on holidays when his mother scrubbed and mended me.
I was even present for his graduation. They used me to pack plates and cutlery, and I remember crying, because the little boy I’d raised was a graduate. I was proud.
Every important moment, I was present. NYSC camp, moving into his first apartment, I was useful. But when it was time to reap the fruit of my labour, he betrayed me.
Zikoko: Travelling bag can reap fruit of labour?
TB: Don’t bring up something that will lead to insult
Zikoko: Sorry, please carry on
TB: I had noticed him packing some of his property and giving stuff away. I thought he was moving again, and I prepared myself to follow him. Then one day, he came home with a set of those fancy boxes that roll in any direction. I wondered what he needed new boxes for when I was right there. I’ve been there. I never went anywhere.
Zikoko: I’m so sorry about that. Is that why you decided to catch flights you didn’t pay for instead of feelings?
TB: No. He actually did something worse. That same week, he travelled. Not with me, but with those new boxes he bought. He left Nigeria to London and was so comfortable with leaving me behind. I never left him during any event in his life, but time to move on to bigger and better things and suddenly I wasn’t good enough?
Zikoko: Why are men?
TB: That’s why I’m here today. I’ve been abandoned, and I need him to tell me to my face why he’d do that to me. What did I do to deserve it?
Zikoko: Maybe he didn’t want to put you through the stress of dealing with such a long flight
TB: If I can survive a hostel of hormonal and smellboys, what is a long flight?I built with this man. I was there when there was nothing, and now that a new dispensation is calling, there’s a need for someone younger, firmer and shinier?
He left me with his mother and stuffed me with his old school books. I’m good enough to be trusted with his WAEC certificate but not to leave the country?
I never thought this could happen to me. It’s a common thing in the luggage industry. Bags that’ve served their owners for years are suddenly getting abandoned when it’s time to travel. You people think this japa thing is affecting only you?
Zikoko: I know it’s bad, but honestly, I really need to understand your game plan here. You scam these airport guys, get into a plane, then what?
TB: I don’t know. I didn’t really think it through past actually getting there.
Zikoko: You need to go home. You’re too old to be dealing with all of this. Get some rest and hold his certificates with pride. That’s a big task he’s asking of you; if he didn’t trust you, he wouldn’t ask you.
TB: You’re behaving like a Yoruba man with all these words coming from your mouth, but okay. I’ll go and rest. I just want to say that people need to stop treating their old travelling bags like this. We also deserve the good life. Especially after all we’ve been through.