She stood by the tree, watching him as he walked along the wooden plank above the lake. He was half naked and bare feet, wearing only swimming trunks. He had a very nice physique. She had never seen him before and she had been coming to this lake for a while now.
Was he a tourist? Where was he from? Maybe he was American or European. How long was he going to be in Abuja and where was he staying? At one of the fancy hotels within driving distance from the beach?
Did he already go for a swim or was he going to go for one in a little while? There were the only two people there at the moment. She felt funny standing there, watching him but she couldn’t help it. She was curious.
Beckett smiled as he felt the soft sand beneath his feet and the sun on his skin. It was an absolutely beautiful day and he was so thrilled to be there in Abuja. He had always wanted to live and work in Nigeria. He loved Africa. Had visited many parts of it and always planned to move there one day. And, here he was. He believed it was God’s doing that he got a job at the British High Commission. And he was able to purchase a luxury apartment in Asokoro, which was a distance of 17 minutes from this lake.
Of course, his mother wasn’t too pleased about his moving to Abuja and had strongly objected. “Why would you leave your family, job to go to Nigeria?” she wondered, looking bewildered.
“Mother, this is a great opportunity for me.”
“I’m sure the British Commission have offices in other countries beside Nigeria.”
“They do. They have offices in Canada, Barbados, Jamaica, Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan, Singapore and Sri Lanka.”
“Why didn’t you choose Canada or somewhere in the Caribbean?”
“I didn’t because I had my heart set on Africa.”
“I don’t understand why you’re so set on Africa.”
“I love the culture, the people, the wildlife and the natural beauty.”
“And what about relationships? Do you plan on getting involved with a local woman?”
“Mother, I will be working with British women.”
“Well, that’s good then but, I do wish you would change your mind about going to Nigeria.”
“It’s no use, Mother. I’m not going to change my mind.”
Only his father supported him and on the way to Heathrow, he said, “It’s your life to do what you wish with it. And Abuja would be a nice change for you. Besides, you don’t have any attachments here, do you?”
“Who knows. Maybe you’ll meet your future wife in Abuja.”
“I’m not looking for a wife, Dad. I like being single. Life is less complicated that way.”
His father smiled. “Whatever you say, Son.”
That was two weeks ago. He was here in Abuja, enjoying a lazy Monday evening here at the lake. Smiling, he sat down on the plank for a few minutes and then, he slipped into the water which felt nice and cool on his skin. He swam at leisure, taking long, powerful strokes. It was so nice and peaceful here when there were no other people around. He had discovered that this was the best time to come. He usually came right after leaving the office and always kept a pair of swimming trunks in the car.
She watched as he swam for a while. He was a strong swimmer. She didn’t know how to swim. Her father had tried to teach her but she was afraid. Hopefully, one of these days she would get over her fear and go for swimming lessons. Hopefully, they would be free or not cost much.
He was treading the water now. She wondered how long he was going to remain in the water. Maybe, she should leave now. Her grandmother was probably at home by now and wondering where she was. This time, she would take a taxi back to the city center instead of walking. It had taken her almost two hours to get there on foot. She was used to walking long distances, though.
“That’s why you’re so skinny,” her grandmother would said. “You walk too much and don’t eat enough. You need fattening up.”
She smiled as she thought about her grandmother. After her parents died, her grandmother brought her here to Abuja from Lagos and raised her. They were very close. She had always been closer to her grandmother than to her parents. She could talk to her about anything. And when she had shared her dream of becoming a teacher, her grandmother had said, “With God’s help and hard work, you can be anything you want.” Her smile deepened. Dear, sweet Grandma.
I really should go now but, it’s so nice here, though. The breeze felt nice and cool on her skin. This was one of her favorite spots. What harm would a few minutes more do? Besides, she wasn’t sure she would ever see him again. This might be the one and only time that their visit to the lake coincided.
She watched as he swam towards the plank.
Sources: Wikipedia; GOV UK; All Nigeria Info; Our Travel and Tour