There are certain things you hear or see, some scenes you walk into that will make you pause and think. Who is this one? Where are you from? And who hurt you?
One month I had a number of those life-pausing moments, some left my mouth hanging, others gave me a headache. Let me share:
On a work day morning, I can’t remember what day it was, I took an okada from my house to the bus stop. Halfway through, I remembered I had a N1,000 note and so I told the okada man, an elderly Hausa man, “Oga no vex, na N1,000 I get,” he sighed. I went on, “I get N100 (which was the fare) but I want use am pay bus conductor, before they insult me this morning.” I was shocked when the Okada man said, “that na why I no like Yoruba people, dem too get wahala. Na Igbo people be my friends.”
One day, after work, I went to see a friend passing through Nigeria and so I was out late. I hate being out alone at night. Yes, call me a mouse. So I took a taxi and on our way, as is the norm now, taxi driver started complaining about Buhari. He admitted he voted for Buhari, but “no be this kind change we vote for” then he added, “I even hear say he want give Fulani people five five thousand naira.” When I expressed shock he said “Na one woman wey dey read newspapers tell us, I see when she dey read am for Punch. Na so she talk”.
On the Pedestrian bridge in Palmgrove, an old man got tired climbing the stairs, (even me I get tired) and so he stopped to rest against the railings. The bridge was unusually crowded that day so it looked like he was ‘blocking’ road but when people got to the part he was occupying and saw he was old, they would walk away, but you know there is always that one slightly insane person. The insane person for the day came in the form of a woman wearing a white garment. She got to where the man was standing and went; “abeg comot for road,” people turned and looked at her like, can’t you see he is old, but she went on, “useless man with useless children. If e get better children e forget motor, nonsense.” I can still hear her hiss!!!
On another pedestrian bridge, (I know, I know) I was listening to Sia’s Cheap thrills, the beat was so fast that I literally jogged up the stairs. By the time I got to the top I was out of breath. I unconsciously began to rub on my temples. The man selling shoes on the bridge came close and offered me painkillers. Like seriously?
One of the beautiful things about Lagos buses apart from the drama is the décor. I am always looking at the décor to gauge the personality of the driver. One that caught my eye was a bus that had the flag of Israel and Turkey flying side by side.
Still on Lagos buses, I got into one the other morning and a certain kind of smell hit me. It wasn’t fish, or meat. I looked around, behold the woman sitting by me was picking raw periwinkles, removing the eye and throwing some in her mouth. I watched her for some seconds; remove eye, throw in mouth, pick nose, back to periwinkle. sigh.
What will my eye not see in this Lagos?