I like food!
Whenever I am going from one place to another, especially if it is far, you know, because of traffic, I always want to find a good seat, eat my gala and drink Bigi and then the next thing is to sleep…I would have told the conductor where I was going, so he can wake me up…Me, I no get wahala for this world.
So that day, I was going to our shop.
It was a normal day for me; I woke up the usual time I normally did; I stopped at the mama alakara near our house and bought agege bread and hot akara from the woman and headed to the bus stop.
I planned to eat my bread and akara in the bus, you see, I was heading to the island to my shop at CMS and I knew there would be traffic on the way, I planned to find a good seat by the window, settle and wack my food. I had even bought Bigi to wash it down that morning. So I joined the rest of the other people to rush for bus going to CMS. A bus with no conductor came; there were already some people in the bus.
I boarded the bus, it was moving as I entered, two other guys entered with me; I was very happy that there was a free window seat behind…I chose to sit at the back but the two other guys that entered with me; one sat beside me, the other sat in the front seat where the conductor normally sits.
Like I said, I wanted a cool place to begin my breakfast so I didn’t pay attention to what was going on around me; let the bus just take me to my destination. I even planned to sleep along the way because I knew there would be traffic along the road. This is Lagos, after all.
I unwrapped my agege bread and lined it with six akara…you know akara na, it was just smelling in the bus. The driver said, “who dey wack akara for inside my bus so. Give me some…”
So I cut some for him and one of the passengers passed it to him…he said, “correct guy…” we all laughed and I began to eat my own food.
We stopped at one of two places and we picked one or two passengers. Now, if anything was amiss, I didn’t notice because the bread and akara I was eating had entered my head. I wanted to finish eating it, drink my Bigi and sleep. When we get to CMS, they would wake me up to leave the bus…that’s what I usually do. I sleep a lot too.
So, listen o. I was just munching, like a cow when one woman suddenly said, “Where are you taking us to?”
I looked up and saw we were in a place I wasn’t even familiar with. You know these bus drivers know corner, corner ways, so when he diverted to one road after Costain , I didn’t think it odd besides, the akara and bread was beginning to work, so I was already dozing off.
The driver said he was trying to cut off traffic…the rest of the passengers didn’t say anything, so I relaxed.
After sometime, again, I heard, “What road are you following, this is not the way to go…”
It was the same woman, again. But I heard her voice far, far in my head; my eyes were too heavy to agree or disagree with what was going on around me. I had even began to snore.
I felt we were on a free way because the bus was speeding and so before I could even try to open my eyes, I heard one hot slap on my face, twai! The sleep cleared out from my eyes, one time!
Before I could say, “Wetin I do you?”
I heard another one, twai, sent my head back to the front, that’s how I saw the woman who was asking the question was being gagged. there was a man beside the driver, his head was pulled to the back by another man sitting behind him.
Two guys seated in the middle seat had held her, the woman was big, typical iyaoloja. They held her by the neck and she was struggling with them.
That was when I knew I had entered one chance!
I asked myself, Chinedu, wetin carry you enter one chance bus, the akara wey you dey chop no gree you see road enter better bus!
Chai! “Wetin my mama go do, ooo”
I began to beg them…too. I said, I am just learning trade, I don’t have money. But they slapped me and said I had money that that is how Igbo people behave, that they will have money but will be eating bread and akara everyday meanwhile they are building mansions in the village.
I said I am not Igbo, o. I just look like Igbo. They didn’t even listen to me, they asked me to bring my ATM and all the money on me…
What did I have? Not up to N5k. I gave them my wallet and my ATM. I usually do not even carry the ATM of the account I have money in, so I quickly surrendered it.
They were beating me again me but the driver said they shouldn’t beat me again, that I gave him bread and akara earlier. He said they should push me out…he slowed down and I leapt off the bus. Then they picked up speed again.
You know, I was just shaking, watching them go; that was when i realsied, they had turned on the express; they were facing one way and at top speed!
I ran to the side of the road because a car almost jammed me. That’s how I would have died!
Then as I was still looking, shocked, I saw them throw the man out…the man wearing tie and coat. They threw him out…and he just landed on the road, as he was rolling, one car on speed climbed on him…!
That man died. It was me who even ran to where the man was and told people he was thrown from one chance bus…when people checked his pocket, they saw he was a phamacist with one of these pharmacies in town. The man died!
Anyway, that’s how I escaped, o.
They took my phone and all the money on me that day.
I don’t know what happened to the iyaoloaja, maybe they killed her or took her away for ritual money.
But the akara I shared with the driver that day, saved my own life.
May God help us in this city!
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)