HENRY AND THE 1001 TATTOOS

Was it a scream?

 

Was it a shout?

 

It got louder as Doctor Sam Stanwood opened the door and we walked into the apartment.

 

I dropped the bag that I was carrying and ran into the room with a door marked as the toilet.

 

“Thank God! It is a great idea to have a guest bathroom and toilet not too far from the entrance”, I said as I unzipped my pants and let out the rest of the urine in my bladder. I was almost out of the toilet when I remembered my personal hygiene. “Wash your hands after urinating!” started to ring in my head. I washed my hands in the wash basin and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. “Henry! We are here! In London!! Just like that!!!”, I said as a smile drew itself across my face. “Wow! God is great!!”

 

I got out of the toilet and could no longer find Doctor Sam and my luggage. My heart started beating so fast, it almost escaped my ribcage. “Have I been kidnapped?!”, I asked myself. Psalm 23; The Lord is my shepherd started to play in my head as I walked towards the other door.

 

I tiptoed as I tried to call Doctor Sam. “Doctor Sam, please, where are you?!”

 

The fully furnished living room was lifeless, there was no one in the kitchen, so I walked towards another open door I saw. “Doctor Sam, are you there?!”

 

There was no response.

 

Then it ran towards me and my life flashed before my eyes. I said, “This is it! This is surely the end of me!”

 

I did not even have the courage to run. I just stood there and shut my eyes. “If I run, it will catch up with me. So, let me stand here with dignity and let it bite out a piece of my fresh juicy African flesh”, I thought to myself.

 

After 1.5 minutes of nothing happening, I opened one of my eyes and saw the dog sitting on the floor facing me with its tongue out.

 

“Oh, Henry! What a shame! An ordinary dog is what you are scared of!?”, I asked myself. At that moment, it dawned on me that it was barking of the dog that made me wet my pants.

 

 

Doctor Sam popped his head through the door at the end of the corridor. “Hey Henry, sorry I had to take a phone call, so I was in the balcony. What a great view this apartment has”, he said as he walked towards me and patted the dog on its head. “Come, let me show you your room. I have already put your bags there”, he continued as he walked back to the door and the dog followed him.

 

“I am sure you will love this place. Your flatmates are really nice people. I hope you would be able to chat with them in the evening when they get back from work”, said Doctor Sam as we entered into the room and he showed me around. “It belonged to a friend of mine who just moved to his own house.”

 

“All of these, just for me?”, I asked as I examined the big bedroom with a king-sized bed, huge wardrobe and a 55-inch curved TV; the attached bathroom and toilet with a corner whirlpool bathtub. “I can definitely not afford this accommodation!”

 

“Yes, all of it is for you, Henry. According to your contract, the hospital will be paying for your rent”, he said as he gave me the keys to the apartment. “I will let you settle down and would be back in the evening to see how you are doing”, he continued as he walked out of the room.

 

“Doctor Sam, thank you!”, I said quickly.

 

“Doctor Henry, there is no need to thank me. Thanks to God and to you for accepting the offer!”, he said as he turned back.

 

“Hmmm…one more thing…”

 

“What is that, Henry?”, he asked.

 

“The dog! Will it sit here with me?!”

 

“Henry, are you scared of dogs?”, he asked as he smiled. “Charlie is a lovely and gentle dog. He loves people.”

 

“But it has teeth though. So, I will need some time to trust that statement”, I forced myself to smile as I persuaded him to stop the dog from staring at me as if I were his next meal.

 

“Okay, Henry! I will lock him back in his cage”, he said as he rubbed the dog on his head as led him outside. “C’mon Charlie, let us leave Henry alone”, he said as shut the door as they walked out.

 

“Bye!”

 

 

I dropped on my knees and said a word of prayer, thanking God for the safe journey mercies and for all the wonderful things I had been experiencing up to that very moment.

 

After praying, I drew the curtains and looked outside for some minutes. The view was really beautiful from up there. I turned around and now realised that I carried mountains all the way from Nigeria to London.

 

“I am exhausted”, I said to myself as I started to unpack my bag. We were allowed to check-in only forty-six kilogram, so my mother successfully forced me into carrying thirty-two kilogram worth of local food items. She said, “These things are very expensive in London oh! You better carry plenty of garri, yam flour, beans, grounded pepper, crayfish, dried meat, stockfish, dried bitter leaf and ewedu!”

 

“Where will I put all this foodstuff?”, I asked myself as I started to unpack my clothes and jackets that I bought at the second-hand shops in Yaba, Lagos.

 

I sorted out the clothes and arranged them in the wardrobe. “That was pretty fast”, I said to myself.  I stared at the heap of food items that I still had to sort out. The thought of doing so made me drowsy. I looked up at the wall clock, it was eleven o’clock in the morning. Then I looked at the bed and the force of attraction took control of me.

 

Around four o’clock in the evening, the sound of the door opening woke me up.

 

I jumped out of bed. “Who is that?!”, I asked myself forgetting that I was no longer living alone like in my apartment in Lagos.

 

I followed the sound of the pots and spoons to the kitchen. There was a tall, huge and muscular man busying putting away items from his grocery bag.

 

“Hello!”, I said as I waved at the man that was backing me and also had his headset on.

 

There was no response.

 

So, I walked to his side and waved my hands up at him. I felt like a tiny little bungalow beside him – a ten storey building.

 

He immediately removed his headset and said, “Hey! You must be Henry”. He stretched out his hand.

 

“Yes, I am”, I said as I shook his hand and noticed something.

 

“Nice to finally meet you! I am Michael”, he said as I was busy staring at his tattoos. He was wearing a long sleeve shirt with the sleeves rolled up, exposing his fully tattooed hands.

 

The analyser in my head got activated immediately. It started to scan through all the figures, numbers, objects, letters and symbols on his hands. Trying to find the meaning of all the things my eyes were seeing. Different questions started to go through my head; what does this guy do for a living? Was he in prison? Does he sell drugs and weed? Am I safe here?

 

“Don’t sell a book by its cover” started to ring in my head as I tried to shake myself back to the present.

 

“Are you tired or a bit tired?”, Michael asked me as he smiled at me. “You were gone for like a minute or so. You were just staring at my hands”, he continued as started to laugh and put away the rest of the groceries.

 

“I am so sorry, I was just lost in my thoughts. I guess I must be very tired”, I said as I tried to apologise for the awkwardness. “I am new in London and would start working at the University Teaching Hospital”, I continued with much excitement in my voice.

 

“That’s great! Congratulations!!”, he said as he folded his now empty shopping bag. “Sam shared a little about you with me. He told me that you are a very talented, smart and nice guy”

 

“Oh, Doctor Sam is too kind!”. I blushed. “So what do you do for a living?”, I asked as I automatically answered my question in my head with “Armed robbery, Cocaine dealer or both!”

 

“HENRY GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD!”, I shouted at myself while physically presenting a calm and smiling face.

 

“I am a mechanical engineer. I completed my master’s program at the Oxford University and now work for an engineering firm not too far away from here”, he said as he started to bring out some pots and pans out of the kitchen drawers.

 

“That’s really cool! Mechanical engineer! With a masters degree! Wow! That’s amazing”, I replied. I could not hold it to myself anymore, so I asked, “But you have like 1001 tattoos, right?! Are there like stories or reasons for them?”, I asked as politely as I could while drawing shapes in the air with my hands.

 

“1001 tattoos?!”, he asked as he started to laugh again. “Well, I just have these little ones on my hands, a few on my arms, back, chest and ankles. Not too many. I can explain the stories behind them over dinner!”

 

“Interesting! I would love to listen to the stories, but you don’t have to invite me to dinner for that”, I said as I wondering if the English people always invite people to dinner just to narrate some stories.

 

“No, not like that! Some of my friends from church are coming over to visit and I want to make one of my favourite dishes. You should join us!”, he said as started peeling some potatoes.

 

“You are a Christian and go to church?”, I asked stupidly and excitingly. “That’s wonderful! I cannot wait to meet your friends!”

 

Before his church friends came, we discussed life in London, God, work, family and life in general. I assisted him with cooking and he helped me in arranging my exotic African food items in my section of the kitchen drawers and shelves.

 

At the end of that day, I felt so bad for being too fast at putting a bad label on my flatmate just because of his appearance. Well, I know that the way you are dressed is the way people will address you, but sometimes it is good to give people a chance to prove themselves right.

 

Through the conversation with him and his friends at the dinner table, I got to learn about all the selfless services he offers, the less privileged that he helps, the mission work that he does for the church and other great things that he does. At that moment, I felt so ashamed of myself, because I saw myself as a well-put-together and responsible human being who was not even impacting the world around him like my flatmate was doing.

 

I learnt to, first of all, remove the plank out of my eyes before paying attention to the speck of sawdust in my brother’s eye.

 

Life is full of lessons and events that keep on unfolding.

 

 

Also Interesting…

Free e-books:

 

Check out our book on Amazon:

 

 

2 thoughts on “HENRY AND THE 1001 TATTOOS

  1. Valtoy B. says:

    Thank you so much for reading. What do you think about this story?

    Reply
  2. Abraham says:

    . . . It’s up to Us to see each lesson as a blessing by embracing every moral along each path.
    😁 Beat by a puppy though & the 32 kilos of African dish goodness 😂. . .
    London, Here We Go!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.