9: FUGITIVES IN PORTO

A day after we received money from Madam Grace, it was Christmas. Everywhere had been decorated with christmas lights. Every window glowed with yellow lights. The city of Lisbon was a beauty to look upon. I thought hard about where to go. I was not going to venture into the main Lisbon Districts. It was dangerous since madam Grace could have had more hit men on her payroll.
I thought about Colombo, the best developed area in lisbon. News had it that the place was developed by the money Portugal received by agreeing to Join the Euro Zone.
I figured out that Madam Grace had a 50/50 chances of seeing me there, so I canceled that area out.

Porto, Yes Porto. Why not.
I would have loved to sneak into Seville Spain since it was very close to Portugal Border but I wanted to go with Jenny. It had always been easier to lie your way out of immigration jam if you were alone.
I decided it was going to be Porto.

At about 12 pm, I told Jenny to prepare and pack a small bag. I told her to pack just two jean trousers and two Pullover for me. I had watched the local weather up there in Nothern Portugal and it was hovering around 5 and 6 degrees celsius. I told Jenny how cold it was up there and asked her to get a good Jacket for herself too. We took a Taxi down to the GARE DE ORIENTE train station and headed up North to Porto, the Second largest city in Portugal after Lisbon.

We stopped at the Sao Bento central Station in Porto and walked to the taxi stand. It was a massive medieval structure built in the center of Porto.

It was very cold as I suspected.
We asked the cab driver to take us to a hotel near the city center.
He stopped in front of Novotel hotel. A five star hotel that I believed would gulp all our money in just two nights.
I told the driver to look for a cheaper hotel. He took us to a street at the back of Estadio do Dragao, the FC Porto stadium and we located the kind of hotel we were looking for.
I paid the driver and we went inside.
The price list of their rooms hung above the reception desk. I scanned it quickly and found a room with a big sized bed for two people. The price was 40 euros per night. We paid for one week and took our key and bags to the second floor where the room was located.

We unpacked and changed into casual wears.

We were far away from danger And it was time to talk about the future.
I had been running and hiding with Jennifer to the extent that I had forgotten how she came to live with me.
The escape to Porto had jolted me back to realities and it was time to find a lasting solution.

”Jennifer, we have been together for long now and we don’t even know where we are going to end or how we are going to end up” I said calmly.
” I am beginning to fall in love with you and get used to you but it is very dangerous since I don’t have traveling documents yet” I continued.

” I want us to decide our next move before we leave Porto” I said and kept quiet.

She didn’t say a word. She just lay there on the bed and small tears drop out of her eyes. I expected that.

” I am going to start thinking about options and I want you to chose the best one for you” I said.

” 1- I can find a way to send you to Germany, I know people there. If you agree to go there, I will tell you how to take asylum. You will be taken care of by the German authorities and if you are lucky, they can admit you to school..

2- I can send you to any other country here in Europe where you know people; Spain, Italy or France.

3- I can give you the money you asked for and you can get a TC and go back to Nigeria” I said and stopped.

” I want to live with you” she managed to say.

* What! Was this girl thinking this way all along?. Nahh… I cannot allow that. Things are not done that way. This is Europe and everybody should answer his or her own name*

The phone vibrating on the table jolted me back to reality.
I picked it up and it was my elder brother from Nigeria. He said ‘Happy Christmas” and told me that my Parents were expecting a phone call from me.

It hit me then that I had not even thought about Africa since the Jennifer affair started. How could it had been that way.
Was I under a spell or what.
I wondered if the Olokun deity had confused me or maybe Jennifer herself had charmed me.

I flashed back to how it all started. My original plan was to hook up a sexxx worker each time I wanted and pay her off after sleeping with her.
How Jennifer managed to trick me into living together still baffled me.
I remembered Francis once told me to use my whole free time to pray for the success of my papers but since I was not a prayer type, I didn’t give it much thought.
At that moment, I wished I had taken his advice. I wasn’t a superman afterall.

Then I did what I usualy do when presented with a difficult situation; take a decision and stand by it, whatever comes out of it, don’t blame yourself.

There and then I decided to play along with Jennifer. Somehow, I would lay a hand on a traveling documents and vanished out of Portugal without a trace.

I called my father and spoke with him, after the Christmas wishes, he gave the phone to my mother. We spoke for long, she feared I was in trouble since I had stopped sending money every week. I told her that everything was alright and that I was busy looking for papers to come to Nigeria.

I called my younger brother and promised to send him money for his and my sisters’s Christmas.
I called and spoke to Efuah. I had changed my phone number as soon as the Jennifer affairs started and I forgot to send the new one to her. She had been trying to reach me. I apologized and hung up.
I called Agnes in Germany. She had been missing me and had wished me happy Christmas. She asked if everything was alright with me over there in Portugal. I asked about Victor and hung up.

I scrolled down and found Mary,s number. She was still living in Germany and had given birth to a boy. She was shouting about why I had not been calling. I hung up and tried Matthew’s number, his number didn’t connect; I guessed he was still in Prison.
I called Kenneth my cousin in Berlin. He was still living in the apartment I left for him. He had left asylum camp and was posted to a place where nothing was happening. Johnson had been helping him out with rent pending when I would return. The credit in my phone finished and I dropped my phone on the bed and slept.
I fell into a deep sleep and forgot the World entirely.
It was a perfect escape from danger, from madam grace,
from Jennifer,
from Lisbon and from my own shadows.
I had wished to sleep for days but the list of my travails awaited me when I woke up some hours later.
My whole troubles was still there including Jennifer..

 

The City of Porto was one of the Five Cities that attained the status of a major City in the Iberia Peninsula in the early 18th Century. The other four cities were Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Lisbon. It was the City where Henry the Navigator was born and Raised.

After I woke up from my stress-induced sleep, I told Jennifer that we were going down to the City to feed our eyes; something I loved doing whenever I visited a new place.

We walked downstairs and out to the street. The mighty Estadio do Dragao (The Dragon Stadium; home of FC Porto) stood in front of us and dwarfed every other structure in the area.

We trekked through ALMEDA DAS ANTAS road behind the Estadio and saw a tram station. We got there and waited for minutes before a tram came.
We got into the tram without having any idea of where we were going.

The tram was over 100 years old. Its history was somehow written in figures near the front seat where the driver sat. Its horn was a bell. Its seats were metals.

We purchased a ticket from the driver and sat near the front. When we got to a large green garden, everybody got down including us.
There was a large Cafe across the road. Boldly written in front of it was ” CAFE VELASQUEZ” We got in and sat among numerous portuguese drinking coffee and tea. We ordered for two cups Of Cappucino. We took the cups outside and sipped it through a straw as we walked down the street like Romeo and Juliet.

Down the street, we found Restaurant Vitoria.
We entered inside it and sat down.
Some white Europeans looked at us as if we came in to beg for food. I ignored them as usual.
A waiter brought menu list and dropped it on our table. I opened the menu and searched from top to bottom without understanding the names of the foods. I just closed it and demanded for rice and chicken legs. The waiter looked at Jennifer who nodded in agreement of what I had demanded. I ordered for a bottle of Port Wine. I had seen it in a table of one of the white men who looked at us when we entered.
Port Wine was a local product of Porto. It contained about 12% volume of alcohol. I preferred spirits with 42% and above but since I was with Jenny, I didn’t want to get too high.

We finished our foods an hour later and ventured into the Garden of St Francisco across the road. It was a magnificent garden with hundreds of tourists taking pictures. It was a pity that we had no camera with us. It was Christmas, shops were closed except bars and restaurants.
We just walked around the park and when we got tired of it, we took a taxi down to River Douro.
River Douro was the largest river in Porto. It flowed in from northern Spanish region crossing Valladolid all the way into the Atlantic and crossed Portugal through Porto.
I had purchased a 1euro city map along the road. Not that I needed it but when you go to Rome, you must behave like the Romans.
There were tourists from all over Europe eating and drinking along the river, we joined them.
At around 8pm, it was getting dark and cold. We hired a taxi and drove back to our hotel behind the Estadio Dragao.

We got to our room and took our bath together. We had somehow became unofficial husband and wife.
Sometimes I wished the conditions we found ourselves were better.
Jenny was a lovely sweet girl. She knew nothing about the harsh conditions of Europe. I doubt she even suffered in Africa before heading to Europe.
She could not even locate Germany, Italy or the nearby Spain in a Map. She could not name a single city in Europe except London: she could not differentiate between summer and winter. She could not even buy a train ticket from the automat machines on her own.

By the time I found out she knew nothing about life in Europe, she was already living with me.
Sending her away because of such things would make me feel bad for the rest of my life. I felt obligated to teach her all the basic things she should know about Europe but there was only one problem; I was in Portugal for papers.
I could have even managed to teach her if we had not fell into the madam Grace’s troubles.
I wasn’t a religious person but somehow I felt that nature brought her into my life for a reason. All I needed to do was to find out what the reason was.
A part of me had already decided to send her to Germany, teach her a story to tell during her asylum and forget about her. But she was a teenager and somehow our life had gotten entangled with each other.
I had discovered that each time I brought up the issue of sending her away, she would cry and even refused to eat.

Since we were on a forced holiday in Porto, we needed to make the best of it as much as possible.
My nerves had started to relax a little bit. I had stopped being jumpy and on alert.
I doubted madam Grace would find us up there in Porto. Nobody knew where I was, even Jose.
He had called me while we were on the train to Porto but I told him I was going to Algarve in the Southern Portugal. I pointed him South while heading North.

We slept after a few chats.
She wanted sexxx,
I wanted sleep.
She had noticed that she was stressing me and that she was a burden to me. She depended on me for everything and the last thing she wanted to do was to upset me. That would have been disastrous for her; or so she thought.

During our sleep that night, I had a dream..

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