“I am sorry, but you can’t board the flight,” Ludwig stated remorsefully as he looked at the big-eyed Aaron who stared back in disbelief.
“But the plane hasn’t left and we are two hours early?” Aaron retorted.
“We can’t miss this flight sir,” Tegek added.
“But you can always catch another flight, it is 12 hours away, you will leave at 7 pm, but make sure you are three hours early to be allowed to check in.
Aaron and Tegek looked at each other wondering what to do, they looked lost and hesitant, Aaron touched his back pocket feeling for his wallet, head hung.
“It’s free, you won’t pay for the rescheduled flight,” Ludwig responded as he leaned on the check-in counter.
Aaron and Tegek raised their heads in relief and smiled. Tegek smiled inching closer to Aaron, “you know it’s my first time on a plane,” she rubbed her bulging belly. “I can’t miss this opportunity.”
Aaron smiled and nodded; “well now you won’t miss it for the world.”
At exactly 3.45pm Aaron stood at the check-in counter with a smile, ensuring that he was served by Ludwig and none of his colleagues.
“I see you are back sir, very eager I see,” he remarked looking at his watch.
“I am not taking any more chances,” Aaron chuckled.
Hot on his heels was Tegek holding her hand luggage which looked less of a burden than her very pregnant self.
“I forgot to ask is this your wife?” Ludwig nodded at Tegek. Aaron was apprehensive before he could utter a word, Tegek blurted out “Yes!”
Aaron was taken aback, wondering why in the world anyone would do that.
“Sir!” His thoughts were interrupted by Ludwig, “I was asking if you had received permission from the doctor for her to fly.”
Aaron looked at Tegek who smiled rubbing her tummy grabbing his arm yanking him close.
“Yes, we received permission from the doctor she is free to fly.” Aaron was confused by his own response.
“Us African women are very big! Even at four months, we look like we will give birth tomorrow.” Tegek blurted laughing, Aaron looked embarrassed.
Ludwig chuckled with Tegek and wished them a safe flight as they took their boarding passes.
In the waiting area past the numerous duty-free shops, Tegek remarked she was hungry. Aaron wondered why she had to mention it to him like it was a hint. She had received the per diem for the conference to Mexico as he did. He decided to not say anything and offered to pay for her. He felt it was the gentlemanly thing to do.
“I need to check my email,” again Tegek remarked after a hearty burp of satisfaction from her meal. “I need to inform my sister I am fine and arrived safely at the airport. She was the lucky one who started to travel abroad early you know? She likes this email thing.” Aaron gave her some cash.
The hours seemed to drag on, it was endless demands and requests from Tegek. In a matter of a momentary lapse in communication, he became a husband and a father-to-be to a fellow conference delegate he had only met that morning.
On the plane, sitting next to Tegek, Aaron decided to find out what was really going on with her senseless requests.
“I can’t thank you enough for your support. I wouldn’t have been able to make it without you. I surely underestimated what an international trip entailed. You see when I received the money for my trip. My husband…” She paused and chuckled. “The real husband informed me that even if we use the money, they would send more for my trip. I knew a white man cannot let an African suffer, so we decided to invest the money well.”
“What do you mean invest the money well?” Aaron couldn’t hide his irritation.
“We bought land and the remainder was used to improve my husband’s hardware store. It is doing well now.”
Aaron laughed hysterically for almost five minutes shaking his head.
Tegek was baffled, “What is so funny?”
“Do you have any money to pay for your food, transport and accommodation in Mexico? Aaron finally mustered in between laughs.
“But the white man won’t let me suffer; I am a delegate in his conference.” Tegek blatantly retorted.
Aaron laughed hysterically. Tegek had no idea what lay ahead.