Soul Brother

That bright Saturday morning, I was so happy to go out and explore my new city. I just arrived at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from Lagos via Addis Ababa the previous day.

This city would be my home for the next four years. My dreams are coming through at last, I murmured to myself. I am going to be the best computer scientist that the University of Technology Malaysia (UTM) has ever seen.

As I was strolling the paths of the amazing KLCC Park, Kuala Lumpur. It dawned on me that I was lonely and very far away from my family and loved ones. Drops of tears ran down my cheeks but were quickly drying up by the rays of sunshine that fell upon my youthful face. It was just two weeks away from my 20th birthday. I was surrounded by great beauty but my heart was heavy, I was sad and deeply troubled.

What am I doing here? Why the hell did I leave the shores of my home country Nigeria? 

While drowning myself with regrets that pierced deep in my bones I heard him. 

“Bro, yo bro.. What’s up man? Are you alright?” 

I couldn’t believe my ears, no way someone is being nice to me in this country. 

Half an hour earlier, when I got on board the subway at Cempaka LRT, commuters, both those that were already on the train and those getting on board just like me, were moving away as I tried to get seated. Wow! Nice people I thought, but then I noticed that they were either turning away or covering their faces as I got closer. 

Just as I was about to sit on a free chair. A lady who sat opposite got up hurriedly with her left hand covering her face and mouth. I was taken aback and couldn’t figure out what was going on. Then she stood and yelled at me

“Africa you go back, Ok? You go la!”

I took a look at my clothes and shoes and I was smartly dressed. I had a white/blue striped long sleeved St Michael shirt that I borrowed from my Dad’s wardrobe. Worn with a pair of dark blue corduroy pants and a pair of well polished brown Bata shoes. I smelled good too as always. I knew that I was different, but was that a problem I wondered?

“Hey bro, I am James. Are you alright?”

At this time he was standing within arm length from me smiling. I managed to mumble, I am good. He extended his hands for a hand shake but then hugged me instead. And whispered to my ears:

“I got you bro, You’ll be alright”.

I held on to him and sobbed like a baby. That was the most comforting and soothing hug I ever had as a young adult.

He didn’t look so surprised when I told him about the encounter on the train. He was rather surprised that I had never experienced racism before.

“Welcome to Babylon bro” he said.

We stood there and chatted for hours. James was an African American soldier on vacation in Malaysia. As we hugged and said goodbye to each other at sunset, I looked up to the sky and thanked my ancestors for sending me my “Soul Brother” at a moment of despair.  


A snippet from the journey of Nze Prosper