Late last night, on my way home from a marvellous musical soirée at friends' house, I'm waiting at a bus stop. Two African women next to me are talking with great animation, their voices bubbling, swirling like amplified, orchestrated bird song. I want to speak this language! I turn to the larger, more voluble of the two:
me: where are you from?
she (smiles, gives me a hug, kisses my cheek): Nigeria.
me: which part?
me: My friend Teju Cole is from there.
me: Yes, Ibo. You?
me: Oh, I think he's Yoruba too.
(Truth is, I can't remember which of the two Teju is).
The bus arrives. The three of us get on and the large woman sits behind me.
she: How old are you?
me: I'm not going to tell you. Guess.
me: Thank you, I'm flattered (actually I'm ecstatic) but you're wrong.
me: (smiling enigmatically) Wrong. How old are you?
Her round face, firm and polished as a nectarine, breaks into a gleaming smile.
she: I'm fifty-one.
It goes on like this and by the time I get off at my stop, we have been
friends forever. We hug, we wave. I love these women. I love London.