Black n Yellow
Squashed up like sardines in a tin and bathed with stenches of sweating armpits already, I manage to secure my space tightly on the wooden seat, with a hot metal which I think is the engine, burning my feet underneath. I also professionally manage to dodge the virulent spits that found their way out of the conductor’s mouth, as he carelessly spatters.
The baby next to me is sort of a brat that keeps fondling cantankerously with his mother’s breast, which is barely off my face. I can tell from the weight on my shoulder that I will not be leaving without wetness and quite frankly, a bit of slime in that area.
Only a few meters away, I am uncontrollably exhibiting a choleric disposition at the inception of my almost eternal sojourn. As much as I respect and try to care for the elderly, I can’t hide the disgust as the Baba just directly behind me attempts to ‘dispose’ of the fresh, very thick mucus from his nose. Dang!!! I would feel this particular wetness over and over again.
I didn’t think it’d get any worse, but then, he needs me, ‘his daughter’ to pass the money from four passengers behind to the unruly conductor. Yes you’re right; I am being touched with the same mucous hands. I can only smile and ‘lend a hand’.
Then, I get the cherry on top. I thought later about the conductor’s threats though. Was he really going to hit me? I thought it simple enough to say, “I’m without change, please keep calm”. It wasn’t like I didn’t pay or didn’t want to, neither was I arguing nor ‘claiming right’. My glasses must have given me in, and my complexion, and the tenderness of my voice, and the mildness of my façade. Snap! The condo threatened to ‘deal with’ me. E gbami!
Now, here’s the part that you’ll recognize and totally love well-meaning Nigerians. Of course, they wouldn’t pay your fare, even if they could, but that your fight, NO!!!, they will fight it for you. Whether you like it or not, need it or not, present or not, they got yo back yo!
The other 13 passengers are now very angry and will lay ALL aggression on this very edgy, ‘ungentle’ conductor. The bros whose boss will definitely query for lateness (as if oga sef no know as Lagos hold up dey be), the man who had been chasing this fucktard of a debtor for months to pay house rent, the young man whose supervisor has been frustrating with project topic, the woman whose stall and goods were confiscated by ‘council’ over 5000naira, the lady whose ‘driver-bf’ just posted (otherwise scammed) and the old woman that just lost her last 100naira! ALL of them are ready to fight my fight!!! No conductor shall lay his filthy hands on a fellow commuter. Awon Avengers!
I wonder if you wonder the same, where the heck is the driver? That one is either deaf or even more insane, whichever it is, ‘oga ade’ has Saheed Osupa’s Civilization on the highest volume, just as the drama goes on. One ‘dead’ fan, right?
So Condo finally gives me my change (but he no get choice) and I sincerely do thank him. Again, I think sanity returns to all, but I am wrong. One would have thought I was the last to pay, till I heard the man in front utter words like ‘owa o, moma bole o (I am at my destination and I’ll be getting off here)’ and condo replies with ‘o de fo, funmi lowo mi jo’ (wont you rather jump off? Pay my money niggur!). Clearly, I get the story. We all do!
Now, there are several types of commuters. I have ‘experienced’ such beings, who price everything, EVERYTHING! Shelf prices at Shoprite, pure water, mama Oyo’s amala (even if that’s done very competently, because Mama Oyo’s attendants are not exactly SANE people), and then, bus fare! Haba, ‘fair’ God! Eez nor a good tin.
This one is impenitently negotiating 20naira less than the conductor’s fare. After we, the ‘mugus’ have paid. Hian! Of course, there’s absolutely no way the conductor is letting him go. Then you hear him (front passenger), scream at the driver. “Driver! Jenbole Jo!!!’ (Pull over, driver. I need to get off).
As a loyal ‘customer’ in this public-transport industry, I know many things. And if you are just as loyal, you will know that in the state of Eko (Lagos), passengers don’t fall into that category of ‘customers are always right’, especially in Ikeja, where LASTMA lives. Omo, you miss your bus-stop, you wait till the next stop! And next stop is definitely plenty metres far away.
Driver pulls over for other passengers (ignoring the dude), at a proper bus-stop. (Hey) Presto! Front passenger manages to jump off and dumps ‘his fare’ into the palms of condo. He won (sharp guy), but not without a curse of course. ‘Oloshi’ ‘Oodeni kure’ (Wretched fellow. I pass on the other). Front passenger mutters away.
The bus is lighter and I’m finally able to move away from my immediate co-commuters. We move a few more meters while the ‘smart passengers’ moderate the ‘farmers are better than teachers’ type of debate (replace either with GEJ and PMB). Then the man beside me, the mechanic-look-alike, is screaming into my ear at either his client or technician over 3000 naira, with so much energy. Head still dey bang!
Finally! “Allen junction?” “Owa o!” (Because your ‘Yoruba’ is not complete without an ‘o’).
Praise God! I saunter with my head up high at the end of one voyage way too long!
P.s: This individual is presently a product of the hardship the state of Lagos brings upon a man’s soul.