Lagos-bound travelers! They were individuals from all walks of life but co-travellers. They belonged to various socioeconomic classes, different religious affiliations, political leanings and ethnic backgrounds. It was Friday morning and they were traveling from Abuja to Lagos.
Shade was 21, a 300 level Economics student of the University of Abuja. Her sister’s wedding was 24 hours away and she was her chief bridesmaid. She’d finished her exams a day earlier and was travelling to Lagos. Alfa Lateef was an Islamic cleric from Ilorin, based in Isale-Eko, Lagos. He went to Abuja to officiate the naming ceremony of a relative. Aliyu was a groundnut farmer in Bauchi as well as a security guard in Ilupeju Estate, Lagos. He visited his younger sister Hauwa in Abuja.
Rev. Emeka Obasi was an Anglican priest and a military officer based in Yaba, Lagos. He was summoned to Abuja by his boss Col. Musa Danbaki. Layi, AKA Gbogbo was a comfortable bricklayer with many wives and mistresses. He went to Abuja with his boys to complete a housing project but incidentally one of his wives delivered of a boy and after six months in the FCT he had to temporarily cut short his visit. He detests politics, dislikes politicians. He had a caustic tongue and a curse factory headquarted in his mouth. He releases missiles of various grades to all our political leaders (guilty or not living or dead) whenever the bus he was travelling in runs into potholes or inexplicable gridlock.
Bose just graduated from a fashion school and was heading to Lagos to start her fashion business. She was gifted in the designing aspect of fashion. Her ‘exposure’ seems to be higher than her academic qualifications. Matthew Romanus was an up-and-coming musician who was going to Lagos for a music competition and to connect with some radio deejays and OAPs so that his single could enjoy some airplay. Bimbo was unusually reserved; she made First Class in Lingusitics at the University and was going to Lagos to seek employment. Arabinrin Aduke was an Elementary School teacher who’d nothing left on her after paying her transport fare and was praying that her 3-year-old daughter, Ife wouldn’t demand something to fill the vacancy in her tummy till they get to Lagos which is very unusual.
Chizoba, a 600-level medical student can’t wait to meet with her fiancé Emeka who had just returned from the States. Beatrice wanted the driver to snail so she could get home late. She doesn’t want people to see her for she’d lost so much weight, no thanks to her recent abortion. Akogun Obasun was a senator travelling incognito. Deji was a barber AKA Bantok, he wanted to watch his favourite club, Chelsea play against Man City so he was anxious to get to Lag latest 5pm. Taiwo, Kehinde, Idowu, Alaba and Idogbe were children of the same parents. They’d gone to Abuja to spend the holidays with their father, a poultry farmer-turned contractor.
Bantok was the first to board the vehicle and he sat behind the driver, minutes later Shade emerged. When he saw her, his balloon of emotions was inflated for he thought she would sit beside him unfortunately she sat behind so his fat balloon farts and went deflating unapologetically. But no sooner had Shade entered than she began to sleep. Having just finished her exams, she was sleep-deprived. Bantok knew she’d ‘misbehave’ while sleeping for she appeared unusually fagged out so she was likely to use him as a pillow and from there they might start-off a friendly conversation …. But as he wanted to change seat Ife’s mum came out of the blue and sat beside Shade. Another disappointment! If Bantok had had his way he’d have sandpapered her face with twin-slaps. Matthew Romanus got to the garage at 5.30am but didn’t board the bus. He’d an unusual fear (phobia) for auto crash as such he tries to protect himself by sitting at a supposedly safe seat so he’d definitely wait for another to occupy his favourite spot. He used to sit at the ‘middle of the middle,’ even if it means tilting his body to access the central point from the front, back, left and right. He ignorantly assumed that if the vehicle he was travelling in was involved in an accident from the back or front it won’t touch him, left or right it won’t hurt him. How foolish!
Beggars in different shades, shapes and sizes vultured. They came with all sorts of tactics to persuade passengers to part with some papers no matter how small. Some sang ‘better’ than Lara George, some prayed better than prayer contractors in our various churches and mountains though they earn kobo in comparison. After about 40 minutes the vehicle was filled to the brim with passengers and ready to cheetah. The Islamic cleric and the priest took turns to pray. There was ‘olainukan,’ yes all the passengers had one mindset irrespective of religious differences. The vehicle eventually took off; minutes later the driver wheeled it into a gas station to fuel his tank.
After covering about two miles the vehicle ran into an unavoidable pothole so the seats ‘Delaped’ the passengers like Kolarov’s kick in a set piece. Shade the sleeping beauty opened her eyes, yawned, spilled some gibberish and went back to sleep. Layi hissed, cursed and voiced, “Our politics … ticians no dey think of tomorrow, they behave like immortals!” Akogun Obasun thinking Layi knew him, better still to avoid being spotted, sunk deeper into his seat and pulled down his Abeti Aja cap to cover his face perfectly. His pastor had told him not to pass the night in his Abuja home and mustn’t travel to Lagos by air or chauffeured but go in public transport. So he’d no alternative than to travel incognito.
Shade’s phone rang endlessly, she woke and finally picked it. It was her boyfriend! They chatted for about 15 minutes and in the end she voiced softly into the mouthpiece, “Please love me greatly, hate me badly but don’t lust me mildly!” Chizoba was amused and found the statement interesting and engaging and wanted to ask what Shade meant but she was far away from her. Seconds later Bose’s phone rang, it was her ‘boyfriend.’ She had not said yes but didn’t say no (either) to his love request. She picked the call excitedly and was praying that he’d chat with her for at least 5 minutes but he spoke for 5 seconds. She was disappointed but before he dropped she said, “Get me sarwama and casera I’ll soon rish Lagos!” She wanted to compensate for the premature call but goofed in the process. Calls were made and received so much so that it became competitions. Akogun wanted to join the rat race, impress and overshadow all by talking for an hour or two nonstop but he remembered his incognito status and restrained himself.
Bantok was afraid that very soon he’d be the only one that had not make or receive calls yet he had no credit in his phone. At last his bosom friend Oluwole called! They chatted for 3 minutes and toward the end of the call he said, “Don’t bobo me o!” Immediately Ife woke up from sleep and says “Mummy, I want bobo!” Her mum’s heart became a taekwondo expert for it leapt assertively and came down aggressively. She became very angry and would have loved to slap Bantok. Her fears had caught up with her! Ife coaxed her mum endlessly and began to cry when she realised her mum wasn’t an electorate to vote for her demand with the excuse that bobo wasn’t sold on the highway but then Ife generalized it by saying, “I want any bobo, big, small, white, black, yellow….” The driver later wheeled the vehicle to a halt for Taiwo had been crying that his bladder was about to burst and the smell of the attendant tsunami would inconvenience everybody. When he alighted ten other passengers quickly joined him for they were afraid that their bladders might protest and later stage a revolution if they don’t pacify immediately.
Chizoba observed Kehinde closely and piped, “Bro, I know you ate and drank the same thing with your twin-brother, please don’t do guy, join the queue!” Everybody in the vehicle gassed out all sorts of laughter – dry, wet, bland, funny, witty … Kehinde was abashed so he masked his embarrassment by saying, “I never knew we’d a prophetess in this bus!” he disembarked walked into the bush, unzipped his trousers, brought out his hose and released its tap.
Ife’s mum was expecting bank alert, having asked her hubby the previous night and he promised to send … first thing in the morning. Her expectation was high and each time her phone beeped with SMS she checks quickly only to discover it was an unsolicited SMS. She was enraged, disappointed yet those SMSs keep playing hide-and-seek with her. How frustrating! They say every disappointment is a blessing. Aliyu sensed that Ife’s mum had no money on her so he bought plantain chips with chilled drinks for Ife and gave her mum N500 to buy bread for her other siblings at home. When you’re ‘flat’ I mean ‘f-l-a-t’ you don’t pretend by saying, “Oga, please leave it!” She nearly fractured his hand while collecting the money. She became excited, pretty excited. Her face lit up, her eyes sparkled and her beauty came out of its cocoon. “Ah, may God bless you sir! Thank you sir!” she finally found her voice. (I’ll continue next week God willing.)