Hiding in Plain Sight

Hiding in Plain Sight by Nuruddin Farah Read Free Book Online

Book: Hiding in Plain Sight by Nuruddin Farah Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nuruddin Farah
tongue. Amid the adrenalized frenzy, Bella kept calm, even managing to lend a hand to her fellow passengers. Somehow she was certain that this time death would spare her so that she could go care for her nephew and niece.
    Now that they are safely on the ground, a general feeling of euphoria sets in, and soon the air is abuzz with the chatter of mobile-phone conversations. Bella can hear some of the passengers repeating the more vivid details of what occurred, and a couple of them are already embellishing the account in preparation for the moment when they will appear on the news.
    After a very long wait, airport emergency services show up, and the cabin doors are finally opened. There is terrific chaos when the doors open and the passengers who are closest to the exit collide with the men and women who have been sent to deliver assistance to those in need. With several people shouting for attention at the same time, the mayhem seems likely to sabotage every good effort to provide help until the pilot enters the fray, once more advising restraint. He requests that all passengers not injured in the bumpy descent please sit and remain seated until those who need help receive it. A passenger in business class, accustomed to what he refers to as “the priority for which I paid,” insists that he be the first to exit. It takes the shaming of several fellow passengers and the venomous reprimand of one of the male flight attendants to get him to settle down, but once he does, the mood of the other passengers takes a positive turn. With calmness prevailing, they collaborate in filing out of the aircraft and into the waiting buses in an orderly manner.
    Bella, waiting her turn to disembark, negotiates her shoulder bag, heavy with her computer, with a big hard camera case made of shinymetal in her right hand, and a smaller matching case in her left. She is remembering previous, more pleasant visits to these parts, visits that she always looked forward to. Aar used to take her and his children to out-of-town restaurants such as the one in Naivasha, her favorite, which boasted gorgeous vistas, the blueness of the lake complementing a clear sky that extended in every direction. This visit, weighed down by death, will be very different.
    Just as she is about to clamber on board the bus to the terminal, hauling her cases, a man approaches her too close for comfort. A tall, thin European, with chiseled features and a tan, is eyeing her as if debating whether to speak to her or not. His brazen stare puts her off and she doesn’t bother to answer him when he says, “Will you have a drink with me if I were to ask you out? I’ll show you a fabulous time, the best you’ve ever had in the company of a man.”
    For the first time, Bella wishes that she had allowed her sorrow to express itself, which might have discouraged such advances. Now she tries to cut him down with a look of bitter distaste that makes it obvious she wants nothing to do with him. She gets on the bus, retreating into the rear, where she stands next to the woman with the many-hued hair. The man gets on board as well, but he keeps his distance, contenting himself with glancing in her direction every now and then.
    Immigration is a breeze. In fact, she has never seen a friendlier group of immigration officers. Chatty and apologetic for the difficult landing, they are quick to say “Welcome!” to every passenger who approaches. Nor does anyone bother to ask for the supposedly mandatory yellow fever certificate—this in an airport known for holding travelers for hours and extorting bribes from them.
    And even though it takes a much longer time than usual for the luggage to be delivered to the cranky carousel, nobody complains. When Bella finally collects her other cases, she realizes that there is no needfor her to rush; no one is meeting her. And so she heads toward the exit, dreading only mildly that the man who approached her earlier might

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