Christmas in Lagos
Christmas in any big city, in a dark light that no one wants to see, as a story that no one wants to tell.
The lights on the drive home are magical; not like the garish over-bright lights in the shop windows at The Palms, or the fading sparkle of the lights the hawkers sell on the street. No, these were the bright but far away lights, the ones that you can see from miles away when looking at a city, but even up close they’re not intimidating. The ones that you like to look at from the back seat of the car while you’re whizzing by so late at night that even Awolowo road is free of traffic. Granted, they are only street lamps, the ones that work anyway, and the brake lights of the sleek sports car in front of you… But maybe its just because it’s Christmas in Lagos, maybe that’s what makes it all seem so beautiful?
The Glo signboards on the street lamp poles are not quite the right shade to be festive green, but in your mind, its ok. It doesn’t matter. At this point, certain shades of blue would be passable as festive green. The corny, over used excuse ‘Its Christmas!’ springs to mind to forgive any discrepancies in colour matching. Everything just seems warm and quiet and peaceful. For a second, you close your eyes to enjoy the hum of the 4x4 around you, the traditional carols playing quietly over the radio, the slight sway of the car as the driver deftly swerves to avoid a pot hole. Ahh, but everyone knows even a moment is all it takes in Lagos.
The car screeches to a halt.
Looking at the Glo signboards again, the green seems all the more festive. The red splashed across the sign so that it now says ‘lo’ not Glo, was all that was missing. The blood dripped richly down the post into a puddle on the road. Few feet away, and unnaturally still, lay an unknown man. The police man standing over him, with his shiny black and smoking friend in his hand stared as if blind. ‘Oga do Christmas for us now!’ his words from only moments ago register in your mind. The memory of the loud bang that followed those words shook you, even only as a memory. The crumpled Naira bills falling silently from the policeman’s palm are the only things moving on this silent night. Too late to regret his celebratory gun shots, he continues to stare.
Christmas in Lagos; magical, breath taking, life changing. Life taking. It’s Christmas. It’s Lagos. These things happen. Don’t they?