Sunday, 27 March 2011

A small world of uncanny reunions

A ticket to Lancaster

Looking at the scales of maps online you imagine the large expanse of land and water that makes up the earth; the seemingly close friends, acquaintances and colleagues who appear to be a few inches away in cartography are not so much a walk away but further and it takes time to travel as the passage of time ekes out years of the last time your paths cross until a certain day.

One certain day, as I boarded a train to Euston to Lancaster, a couple sat in front of me became part of the idle banter that becomes engaging conversation once you know the journey would be long and boring without talk.

They had brought their own drinks onto the train rather than buy the over-priced and usuriously marked-up drinks on the drinks trolley that got wheeled through the carriages.

The conversation started with my appreciating their smarts in having had the choices a store offers over a train trolley and what situations I used to endure on the trains from Ipswich where I lived then to Liverpool Street.

I know your daddy

It transpired that they lived in Ipswich; that was quite interesting and so the conversation developed as she being Caucasian which should not have mattered asked where I was from and the usually trotted out line came with the refrain – of Nigerian parents.

To which she responded she was born in Nigeria and the dots seemed to join up in what would have been the surreal to both her husband and her; in the inquisitive, I wondered if she was born in Jos to which she responded in the affirmative and it was a slam dunk from there on end as I confidently said I suppose her father and mine worked for the same company and even offered the name of her father.

As she composed herself, I told her of a conversation I had with her father some 21 years before in Rayfield, Jos in Nigeria where I had asked where she was and I was told she had returned to the United Kingdom – her father, sadly had since died.

On a train that was going all the way to Scotland, it was strange to realise they would also be getting off at Lancaster and going off to a village just a few miles from where I would be spending Christmas – it was such an uncanny moment.

An invite from church

A few weeks ago at church I got formally introduced to a couple I never fully identified with having the assumption they were from another part of Africa until they spoke to other friends in a Nigerian language I understood.

We were then invited for a get together at theirs in two weeks and that set the stage for the meeting we had on Saturday.

I was picked up and we drove up to North Holland to well-appointed detached house in an idyllic village.

The ladies occupied themselves in the kitchen as we chatted in the living room about all the general topics that range from the serious to the trivial.

The wonderful sumptuous meal of pounded yam, beef and chicken stew and cow leg spinach soup was served and we tucked in ravenously almost exceeding the allowances of our appetites.

To a place born

The conversation swayed back and forth about the Yoruba language, the issues of culture, traditions and myths and it got to where we were born.

She said she was born in Birmingham more in terms of it being the biggest known city in the West Midlands and I surprised said I was born in Walsall which just happened to be where she was born. I got transferred by reason of premature birth to the hospital where she was born just within 2 years of my birth.

Her mum knows mine

That being within the time my parents were residents in Walsall, it was possible mine knew hers and just before I completed the sentence about the social club I felt our mothers were members of she offered the name.

Joining the dots was easy from then on, our fathers are both accountants, I am familiar with her maiden name and other names that came up just showed that our paths had crossed in England in the 60s, in Nigeria in the 80s and now in the Netherlands in 2011 in the most unlikely place for a coincidence to become a happenstance.

The world is a small place by reason of the people we met before and who we meet again or through others who know them so well – you cannot run away from the world in which you have lived. Uncanny!

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