Chapter 2 – Touchdown Lusaka

Chris Blok

So Diary I’m sure you wonder what kinds of people actually occupy the plane with Zambia as destination. Well ponder no more. I got onto the plane and settled in second class by the emergency exit area and have been watching the people getting onboard. By the way, it is so annoying to see a lot of these people carrying more hand luggage than they ought to. This is precisely why I always aim to be one of the first on the plane.

Anyhow, back to the kinds of people that gets on the plane. When I first started flying back to Zambia I saw mostly Mwenjes (Indians), muzungus (white folks) going on holiday and a couple of black Zambians who had done some kind of business trip or were students heading back home for holidays. There always were a couple of faces on the flight that I knew. That has changed now. I don’t know if I should say it is fortunate or not but it makes me feel a little less connected to Zambia itself.

What was I trying to say again? Oh yeah, the kinds of people that are on the plane. Well there’s a few more Muzungus and still some Mwenjes and blacks but there are a whole lot more Chinese people onboard. And it makes me wonder how they got their finances to buy a ticket to Zambia because they do not look like they can afford even the next meal with their worn out shoes and faded shirts. Don’t get me wrong, I have no bad feelings towards them. But it does make me wonder what their purpose is. There is a lot of activity going on in the mines in Zambia right now and it breaks my heart at the speculation that a lot of the jobs that could be done by a local Zambian are being taken by these people being flown in….

Anyway, it is almost takeoff time and everyone is seated. Next to me a pastor is seated whom has exchanged some friendly banter with me. The friendly banter turned to him trying to save my soul and what was a dialogue of sorts turned into a monologue which was not mine by any account. Ugh, will this trip be over soon?

God punishes immediately. Ever noticed how that phrase seems so cliché until it rings; nay shrieks true in your ears? Well the shrieking is actually the baby of the lovely couple seated across from me in the middle isle. Oh God, why is there no special compartment for families with babies? I’m not going to enjoy these 9 hours at all.

Under the disapproving look of the pastor I ordered some whiskeys in order to try and get to sleep. I know it is only 10 am but this is getting to me. I hope Serena is having a better flight. It’s 11 am and the situation has not improved. I want to be in a good mood when I see Serena and I should really try and sleep off these whiskeys.

The movies that are on the entertainment system as well as the songs are not new to me and thus I don’t want to watch them. The mix of languages spoken on the plane (English, Dutch, Bemba, Gujarati and I’m guessing Chinese) normally has a lulling effect on me in combination with the droning sound of the plane. Normally yes, but not right now. I can’t take this any longer.

The stewardess who has been so patient with me once again shocked me with her professionalism. She immediately checked if there was a seat left in first class which I gladly paid extra for in order to get the upgrade. By the way, have you noticed how the stewardesses as kind as they are, are simply not as hot as they are in the movies? Anyway, this is not the moment to think of joining the mile high club. I’m going to try and get some shut eye. Mum, Dad and Serena here I come! Lights out.

REUNION

Wow Serena, finally after so long we met!  She looks more stunning and more bubbly than I remember.  Amazing how much she has changed yet still feels so familiar.  You know how you get so excited to finally see someone you care so deeply about that you want to share everything but have so few words to express it?  Instead of telling her all these things I’ve been summing up in my head, I tell her how I managed to experience the Zambian sunset as we were landing and how it is probably the best sunset I have ever seen anywhere.

After some hugs and getting used to each other being on the same planet, the same country and the same room, we talked to my parents for a bit.  They came to pick us up from the airport.  I had not seen them for a couple of months so meeting with them was a little less emotional but very happy all the same.  My parents ushered us into the Landcruiser and took us straight to the farm.  I wonder, even though we drove in darkness; did Serena notice all the new buildings and structures along the road?  Every time I land, which is at least twice a year, I see at least two new large structures.  I wonder what she has noticed of that.  Anyway, we have just eaten dinner and caught up with mum and dad.  Time for me to sit and catch up with Serena in my little cottage on mum and dad’s farm.  Diary, I’ll scribble on you later.

—————————————————————————————————–

Serena Shirazi

I think I just might have to re-emphasise what a tiring day this has been. But besides that, oh what a day it has been for sure! Chris and I met after 8 years! Imagine that! After leaving school I always thought we’d remain friends for life, but that is how I thought about most of my friends. Then slowly, other friends started getting too involved in their own affairs to bother about remaining close. Some even stopped keeping in touch altogether. It was painful but I guess inevitable for many. Chris and I survived the entire period though. It’s exceptional! I really have to say I am lucky to be a part of the internet generation, otherwise I’m not sure Chris and I would have been the great friends we are.

Anyway, let me not get carried away with all these extraneous details. What I HAVE to say is that this has been the best day of this year. Nothing comes close. I’ll start with the details. I think the last I wrote was about me loitering around the Addis Ababa airport.

The flight from Addis to Lusaka was pretty alright. The best part was when we were descending and I could see all the greenery of Zambia below me. I literally started crying! The woman sitting next to me got a bit worried, but I don’t think she could say for sure if I was crying. I cannot even explain what this means to me – this entire journey. If I really could call any place home, it would be Zambia. But I don’t even live there anymore. Still, my love for it will never lessen. So just knowing that I was coming home after 5 years overwhelmed me to an extent I didn’t imagine.

After touchdown, I cleared customs and collected my luggage at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport. I have to say I was quite taken aback. The airport is now definitely NOT the way I remember it. It made me slightly sad because the very first thing I saw was unfamiliar to me. I kept telling myself that I was being unrealistic by expecting things to be the same. I am not sure what has changed, but it looks kind of different to me. When I told this to Chris later, he told me it was still the same! Did I just imagine things?

It was just past 4pm when I got my luggage. Chris had told me his flight would probably land at around 6pm. I thought it would be better for me to wait for him to come.

Time really moves slowly when you’re waiting for someone so eagerly. I decided to read the book I was carrying – T.E. Lawrence’s ‘The Seven Pillars of Wisdom’. With half my mind on the book and half my mind dizzy with anticipation, I heard that the flight from Amsterdam had just landed. Another half an hour (or less, or more), Chris would be in front of me!

REUNITED ONCE MORE

Okay, so let’s fast-forward to the moment. I saw Chris in the distance, coming out of the luggage area and I was flabbergasted! He had changed quite a bit! But I could still recognise him. He looked pretty smart I have to say. He has gained some weight undoubtedly but I could see the maturity on his face, the calmness and composure.

I have to admit, the first few moments were strange. I had this urge to go running and give him a great BIG hug. But on the other hand, I was starting to get conscious about that too. It had been 8 years! I wanted to say so much to him – how these years had been – how everything has changed. Ultimately I didn’t say anything apart from ‘Oh my gosh!’. Really feeble stuff methinks. Anyway, thank goodness, Chris came ahead and just gave me a huge hug. That was awesome. I didn’t feel like any time had passed since I had seen him last. It’s strange how one silly connecting thing like a hug can make you remember everything a person means to you.  Chris and I surely hadn’t met for that long, but he is definitely the most important friend I’ve ever had.

Soon we were laughing and talking like little kids. His parents picked us up from the airport and it was so awesome to see them again! They had seen me when I was a mere teenager. They told me that – it was really cute. On the way to their farmhouse I happened to notice how different Zambia looked. It was seriously dark but the number of buildings that had come up and the number of billboards that had appeared were seriously making me forget where I was. Whatever it is, I was so happy being where I was with Chris sitting next to me. I knew this trip was going to be special.

Move to Chapter 3

Move to Chapter 1

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