My name is Abioseh. I was born in Gboko, Nigeria, in 2001. My father was a pastor in a local church. My mother was working in a laundry shop part time as she had also to take care of me and my four brothers and sisters. If I look back at my childhood I remember that we lived always in the same house next to the church where my father worked. My memories are mainly linked to my mother taking care of us by an assigning after school various chores to me and my sister who were the eldest. Fetch water from the well. Sweep the front go the house up to the road. Fetch the meat and vegetable at the market.
I had a dream back then and remember the day I decided to become a pilot. I was playing football with my friends in the dusty field behind the church. The usual late afternoon match just before the sunset. I remember seeing often planes flying high above our town and leaving behind a long white tail that would then disappear into the blue of the sky. But that one day something changed. I heard the faint noise of the plane then saw the small silver dot flying high above us and stop playing. For a moment I found myself in an own world where the soccer field, the friends and their shouts and screams were blurred. I looked up and knew that I was to become a pilot. I just knew it.
Some years later my father received an invitation from a church in England to attend a one month retreat on the art and meaning of the communication with God. As the seminar was quite long the organizers allowed him to bring also his family. That would be my first flight somewhere though by then I had memorized airplanes models. I knew the differences of the Airbus A340 series. I knew by heart how many passengers could fit in a A380.
We flew to London via Frankfurt and I was so happy that my first flight has a stop over and would actually be made of two flights. I remember landing at Heathrow and the plane slowly taxiing to the assigned gate. I was looking outside the windows and would shout to my father, who was sitting on on the other side of the aisle: ‘Look Baba, a Qantas A380!’. ‘Baba a British Airways 747 is being pulled to an hangar, it is huge!’ . Look Baba, the A340 of South African Airlines is being pulled back and a man is walking next to it with headphones and and a long cable attached to the fuselage to communicate with the cockpit!’.
When our plane reached the gate passengers stood up to get their bags and things from the overhead lockers. I stood up as well holding the cartoon box wit the helicopters model which my father bought me at Frankfurt. It felt the most precious things in the world to me.
We were the last to leave the plane with all our hand luggage and my father giving instructions to all of us including my mother. I went first. I remember that when we reached the entrance of the plane I saw that the cockpit door was open and the captain was standing in front of it. For few seconds I could glimpse behind him the mosaic of lights, indicators and instruments. All of a sudden, I heard his voice asking me: ‘Do you want to have a closer look?’. I could not believe what I heard. Turned to my father who smiled to me and made a sign with his head to go ahead. I entered the cockpit as I would enter a sacred place. The captain started to explain the function of some instruments but I could hardly hear his voice. This all lasted just few minutes. I then asked if I could take a picture and the captain said ’Sure, go ahead’.
And here I ma sitting in this room looking at the wall the picture that my father took of me and the captain in the cockpit of my second flight. It is hanging in a simple wooden frame which has lost its brown color with the years. I look very proud. I am older now but can recognize the same expression in my eyes and the same smile. Those have not changed.
‘Baba, I am a pilot now. It is a pity you did not live long enough to see it but you knew I had a dream and always helped me with that. That why I am thankful to you’. I whisper these words to the picture as well as to to myself. Hearing my voice makes me I stand up. I look at myself in the picture for few seconds and then walk towards the door to join the family and relatives who have come for the ceremony. I entered this room not knowing what I would say in my good bye speech. Now I know. So I open the door and join the others.