25th Tale

Public transport in Lagos is a comedy show on its own. It should be included in the list of 1000 ways to cure high blood pressure, because there’s an endless possibility of the kind of drama that you may witness while aboard one. 

I found myself on one of those buses on the 25th of December, as I was returning from the beach. It was like a movie, every passenger assumed a character, a funny one at that.

“Oshodi, Oshodi, Oshodi!” The conductor shouted. 

The bus wasn’t the ‘best’ in the park. No, scratch that. The bus was dragging position with the worst bus in the park, but I entered, after much hesitations, because it was going towards my destination, and time was no longer on my side. 

Let me describe this bus for you.

First of all, the driver looked like a tired-of-life-80-year old man. He sat firmly on the driver’s seat, with a dirty and rather long chewing stick glued to the side of his mouth, and face squeezed like he just came out from a fierce brawl with the witches and wizards of his destiny. I don’t know if it was their marketing strategy (and I think it is), but the person that gave them that idea needs to be stripped and whipped. 

The bus itself was old, rusty and rickety. It had no door. I don’t mean the door was open or tied by the side with a rope, it literally had no  door! The engine was on the whole time we were loading, and it made gunshot sounds at intervals, Gbim! Gbom! Gbam!! The seats inside weren’t leather. It didn’t have foams covering it either. We sat on plain wooden benches with steel frames!

When the bus was full, the driver moved. Take note, I said ‘moved’. I could’ve said ‘drove off’ or ‘sped off’, but I said ‘moved’. It’s to tell you how slowly he moved. In fact, I think the word to use is ‘rolled’ or ‘strolled’ or better still, ‘crawl’.

After like ten minutes of strolling, one passenger, the guy at my front, blurted out, “Guy, na express we dey laidis oo, and we dey waka like say na marching we dey do.” 

“Driver move faster naw, na Oshodi we dey go and road still far,” one woman chipped in. 

“Na him speed be this naw, na 400km/h he dey move laidis o-o,” one guy replied. 

“Oga driver, say make you drive carefully no mean say make we sleep for road.”

“Just look road, e free like Freetown. No car dey him front, but we dey crawl. I been think say na hold up we dey sef,” the first guy repeated. 

It was just banters upon banters on the driver, but he no even send. He kept on strolling. Papa probably had his mind fixed on the details of the brawl he had earlier. 

After like another devastating thirty minutes of strolling, one woman shouted, “Abeg ò  wá oo, I no fit reach house like this.” 

It was a bus stop. Immediately the bus stopped, the conductor began, 

“Oshodi, Oshodi, Oshodi!”

“Oshodi kee you there! See, you wey wan enter, na one chance bus be this oo,” one passenger (Mr. Z) told a guy that was about entering the bus. 

“One—What?” The guy paused and made a U-turn immediately. “Na Christmas we dey, you can’t be playing that kind of rough play with me.”

“Why you dey spoil market for me? Which kind rubbish be that one na?” the conductor roared. 

“Spoil which market? The one wey you carry you don sell am finish? See as you pack us like sardine for here, motor no gree you move, you still wan carry another passenger make you go drop us for road abi?” Mr. Z fired back. 

When we, the other passengers saw he was fighting our fight, we joined in screaming, “One Chance’! We die here.”

When the driver saw that no new passenger wanted to enter the bus, he ‘moved’, again!

Seconds later, the bus began to jerk, making quirky sounds (Kwakum! Kwekem! Kwekem!) that suggested it was gonna stop any minute. And indeed, it made true to its promise, because it stopped and didn’t want to respond to ignition kicks no more. 

“I talk am, say this bus no go survive this journey!” Mr. Z shouted “When I been dey talk say make he no carry another passenger, e be like say I be enemy of progress, now see.”

“Like play, like play, this man go soon tell us say him bus don spoil make we find our way,” one guy said.

“That one fit happen? He go refund me my money sharp sharp,” Mr. Z replied.

The conductor and the driver nibbled at the engine, and after what seemed like an eternity, the engine came to life!

“Praise the Lord!” 

“Hallelujah somebody!”

Episode two began. 

The driver said he wasn’t going to continue the journey, that he really needed to shit. It was then that I knew what he had been dealing with. The brawl wasn’t past tense, it was the present. And it wasn’t with the witches and wizards of his destiny, it was actually with his stomach and his anal muscles. He handed over to the conductor.

The conductor (our new driver), probably trying to prevent all the insults hauled at the previous driver from befalling him, ‘drove off’. 

He was moving at an almost super-sonic speed. Seriously, I feared for my life small. We were just over-taking cars like no man’s business.

“Driver easy oo! Hey God oo. So na so I no go see 2019?” One woman shouted.
“Driver calm down small na, dem no dey rush life oo, life na jeje oo, I no sabi where you speed dey go.”

“Abeg, na because say we been dey shout? Oya we no shout again, dey go suffry-suffry.”

“Una dey mad. No be una dey shout for una papa say he no dey move fast, now I don move fast una still dey complain” the conductor-turned-driver blurted.

I was at the window, so I was watching as our bus sped past many fine cars on the express, and each car we passed, the driver usually turned to look, in disbelief, at the old, rickety thing that passed it.

The wahala didn’t start until one woman shouted “Ò wá oo” from the back. Driver matched brake, brake no gree respond. He matched again, lai lai, bus still dey move. After another five minutes of trying to stop the vehicle, we were still moving. Mr. Z and some others had already started planning on how to jump from the moving bus when the driver decided to make his last attempt. He used the pavement at the side of the road as brake to wedge the tyre. 

Immediately we stopped, there was mass exodus from the bus. Everybody was clamoring for the door. I was not left out. In fact, I almost jumped out of the window, but the rusty and spoilt body of the bus discouraged me. Before one thing will tear my skin. 

The insults the new driver was trying to run away from, he received it double. Mr. Z and his cohorts blamed him for not knowing that the former driver was driving slowly because his brake pads weren’t good. 

See ehn, everybody in Lagos is just not well. It’s like one of the prerequisites of being a resident. I confirmed it on the 25th.

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