The inside of my car was perfumed with the sweet smell of the air freshener. But I didn't notice it at that moment as I focused on taking deep breaths, one after the other.
I checked my watch, less than five minutes left. I killed the engine of my car and stepped out. My nerves were on edge as I kept trying to control myself.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
I locked my car and with hands deep in my jean pockets, I began to walk through the throngs of people.
It was a typical evening in Lagos State, the road was teeming with pedestrians and vehicles. People bumped into each other in their hurry to get to their destinations.
I took a turn into the railway station. This was also crowded with people and it was just as noisy. There were traders and hawkers scattered about selling their wares. Taxis and motorcycles were parked as they waited for customers.
I was here for only one reason, to welcome the love of my life.
Actually, I had never met her physically before. We had met on Facebook, through a hookup group we had been members of. And from the very first chat, we had hit it off.
Our usual texts had graduated to long voice notes, then voice calls and eventually video calls. In less than five months, I discovered I was deeply in love with her. And when I told her this, she told me she loved me as well. Oh boy, my joy knew no bounds.
There was only one problem; while I lived and worked in Nigeria, she did the same, but in Ghana. Our businesses were successful and we had painstakingly built our clientele. So it was hard for one of us to decide to change location.
This had caused a quarrel between us, and we eventually made up. But still, there was this strain in the relationship.
We needed to see each other physically, to be able to feel each other. To be able to consumate the love we shared. But none of us had been able to make the travel. Something was always coming up.
The relationship went on like that for another year, then she got fed up and told me she was coming to Nigeria for a week to see me. On the condition that I wasn't going to do any kind of work for that week.
A week just for the two of us, to rediscover ourselves. Ensure we were not making a mistake.
After the week was over, we would decide our stand.
After telling my boys at work I would be unavailable for a week, I prepared for her arrival.
And now, it was imminent.
A loud horn blasted through the evening air, followed by the loud rumble of an engine. Signalling the arrival of the train.
People hurried off the rail tracks, clearing the path as the train barreled on towards us.
As I watched it approach, I began to have my doubts. What if she didn't come? Or what if she did come and I didn't recognize her? Despite thousands of video calls. What if she doesn't turn out to be what I expect at all?
A loud screech pierced through the air as the brakes were applied. Sparks flew off the bottom of the train as friction slowed it down.
And at exactly 5:30 PM, it came to a halt directly in front of the shed I was under.
It was then I noticed I was sweating and my hands were shaking with nerves. What if she saw me and was disappointed? What if she said I was too tall or too short for her? Oh my God! Why did I agree to this?
The doors swung open and the passengers alighted, flooding into the station like a swarm of bees.
The moment I saw her, I knew. And in that moment, her eyes turned and locked on mine. The smile of recognition lit up her face like an easter candle. It was then I knew just how deeply I was in love with her.
"Oh Jesus. She's so beautiful." I muttered to myself, staring in awe.
Then I was pushing through the crowd, shoving people out if the way as she too hurried towards me.
We met halfway and she leapt into my arms. I pulled her close, lifting her off her feet as I hugged her closely. I could feel the thumps of her heart against mine, they were beating in tandem. How I loved her.
I pulled back from the hug to see her up close for the first time. I caressed her cheeks and ran my fingers through her silky hair. She was real indeed
Then I kissed her. It was a deep soul searching kiss that was over eighteen months due.
"Welcome to Nigeria baby." I told her, "welcome to my country."
And taking her hand in one of mine, and her box in the other, we strolled out of the railway station towards my parked car. This station would forever hold a place in my heart. The place I met the love of my life for the first time.
This was the beginning of the best week of my life.
Or the beginning of forever.
Thank you for reading.