Directions

“Excuse me.”

The man wearing a threadbare T-shirt stopped to stare at the besuited stranger who had accosted him in the street.

“Yes?”

“Please, can you tell me how to get to Adekoya Street? I’m told that it’s somewhere around here.”

“Adekoya Street?” T-Shirt replied suspiciously.

“Yes, Adekoya Street. Or do you not know of this street?”

T-Shirt ruminated for a while. “Adekoya Street… Adekoya Street… The name is familiar – I think it is around here. Wait, let me think.” He bowed his head in thought, then he exclaimed, “Yes, I remember it now. But it’s far o!”

“Are you sure?” asked Suit. “I was told it was not more than five minutes’ walk from here.”

“No-o.” T-Shirt shook his head vehemently. “It’s far. About twenty minutes. First, continue going in the direction you were going. Walk until you see ‘Godson and Nephew’ on your right.”

“Who or what is ‘Godson and Nephew’?” asked a bemused Suit.

“You haven’t heard of ‘Godson and Nephew’? Ah-ah, it’s a very popular pharmacy. Very big, too; the building is three storeys tall. Any disease in this world you can think of, they sell a medicine for it.” T-Shirt licked his lips and proceeded to tick off a list of illnesses on his fingers. “Hypertension, diabetes, typhoid, polio, diarrhoea, heart attack, bad blood, impotence, barrenness, nerve failure and even AIDS – they have medicines for all of them at ‘Godson and Nephew’.”

T-Shirt looked like he might continue, but Suit had heard enough of the wonders of ‘Godson’ and his ‘Nephew’, and he prompted T-Shirt to resume giving his directions.

“So ‘Godson and Nephew’ is at a junction. When you get to that junction, turn left. That will take you onto Alagomeji Street. Keep on walking; you will see a road on your right. Don’t take that road o! Instead, keep on walking. You will see another road, also on your right. But don’t take that road. If you take that road, you will miss your way. Instead, just continue walking. Then you will pass one big compound on your left. The compound has a big statue of a soldier holding a gun in one hand and a rocket launcher in the other. They are both very big – bigger than the soldier.”

Suit was curious. “Does the compound belong to a military man?”

T-Shirt shook his head again. “No-o. That is a church – the ‘Holy Army Fire Missiles And Bullets At Satan Ministries’. The pastor is Pastor Igbala; he is very powerful. In fact, any problem in this world that you can think of, he can call down Holy Spirit to deliver you from. He has his…” and here, T-Shirt’s tone took on an added gravitas, “‘Operation Storming Strongholds, Taking Territories and Breaking Bonds’ Night tomorrow if you are interested.”

Suit wondered if Pastor Igbala could safely deliver him to Adekoya Street, but then he thought that maybe that was too trivial an undertaking for a stormer of strongholds. “I’ll think about it if I’m in this area tomorrow. Please continue.”

T-Shirt scratched his head as he recalled his train of thought. “Eh… oh yes. So you are on Isiaka Street…”

“You said Alagomeji Street.”

“Mm… oh yes. Alagomeji Street. So keep on walking. After some time, you will see another road on your right.”

“And this is Adekoya Street, right?”

Again, another vehement shake of the head. “No-o! Don’t take that road. If you take that road, it will lead you to Mama Risikat’s bukateria.”

Here, T-Shirt paused in thought, and Suit knew that if he did not intervene fast, then he would have to hear T-Shirt say how Mama Risikat could cook any meal in this world that he could think of.

“So I keep on walking, right?”

“Yes. You keep on walking. You will see a road on your left, just after this road on your right that you have passed. The road on the right will lead you to…”

“Mama Risikat’s bukateria, yes, I know. Where does this road on the left lead you to?”

“Ah, that is Adekoya Street.”

Suit, who had been dreading another digression into details of another notable local landmark gave a silent prayer of thanks.

“But that is not the Adekoya Street that you want o. To find that you will need to keep on walking until you get to…”

Suddenly, Suit held up a finger as if a thought had just come to him.

“You know what? I just remembered that it’s not today that I should be going to Adekoya Street. I’m supposed to go there tomorrow.”

T-Shirt looked disappointed. “So you don’t want me to finish giving you directions?”

Suit shook his head. “No need. But when I come back to this area tomorrow, I will follow your directions, at least as far as the Adekoya Street that is not the Adekoya Street that I want. It will even be better if I can see you so that I can ask you to complete your directions. Thank you so much for your help.”

T-Shirt nodded his head in acceptance and went on his way. Suit waited until he was completely out of sight, then he hailed another passer-by.

“Please, can you tell me how to get to Adekoya Street from here?”

The passer-by paused in thought for a while, then said, “You are heading in the wrong direction. You need to turn round and keep walking until you pass ‘Drink and be Jolly’. You know, the one where you can get any alcoholic drink in this world that you can think of…”

 



58 thoughts on “Directions” by Tola Odejayi (@TolaO)

  1. Uh oh. In the company of madmen, it would seem.

    This is funny. Funny and interesting as well.

    Good.

    1. Glad you liked it, @Seun-Odukoya. But come o – the man is not mad. He just works for his neighbourhood’s local tourist organisation. :)

      Some “liner notes”: I had been challenging myself to write a flash story for a while now. Unfortunately, I have this bad habit of expanding my stories so that they end up becoming much larger than I thought. (For example, the Quandarilateral was never supposed to be more than 1500 words; it ended up being over 5000 words.)

      I struggled to think of a topic that I could write on, and then the familiar experience of asking for (and being misled by) directions came to mind. As usual, things didn’t turn out the way I had imagined; for example, the idea of the man in the T-Shirt digressing only came to me during the writing.

  2. hehehehehe…..

    Now I’m beginning to think the guy is even standing on Adekoya street. Nice!!!

    1. Probably… or maybe there is even no Adekoya Street, @Teewah.

  3. hehehehe! I love the humour in the story; totally hilarious! It’s a common thing in naija for people to give wrong directions instead of admitting they don’t have an idea about the place being inquired of.
    Great Job Tola.

    1. True word about misdirections, @Petunia007.

      Oh, and welcome back, too. :)

  4. @teewah, I tell you, he’s just there.
    Nice one @Tola-Odejayi

  5. Hahahahaahaha. Typical Nigerian illiterate. Nice one.

  6. At last, something really interesting.
    Well done.

  7. Lwkmd!
    Someone said you could make a story out of anything, I’m beginning to see that.
    Nice one.

    1. I’m glad you liked it, @Francis. You might also like this other story out of anything, too.

  8. Typical naija!..Nice one Tola.

    1. So I’m not the only one who has had these strange experiences asking for directions, then… :)

      Thanks, @Sibbylwhite.

  9. @TolaO, nice! First I had the feeling all three of them were crazy, then I imagined a twist where u reveal the reader is also crazy…well maybe only one reader is crazy.

    1. Thanks, @Literati. I didn’t see anything crazy about Suit…

      1. @TolaO U didn’t see? Wat kind of person maintains such a conversation wit d Tshirt?(there’s a medical term for his talk btw)
        And wat normal person locates two, TWO Tola, of such ppl consecutively, on d same journey?
        It’s either he’s crazy..or he’s crazy

        1. Hilarious Uzuazo, am glad am not the only one that found the whole exchange unusual.

  10. Haha!! Journey of no return!

    1. Given that the poor stranger did not even get any decent directions, it must feel more like a ‘journey of no advance’, @guywriterer.

  11. Very funny! I really enjoyed this. But I think maybe you should have done something a bit different with the last paragraph. Yeah, the new “Director” can be crazy as well, but let it be a different type of crazy from the last one. Or he’s not crazy at all, and tells him simply to take the next left.

    Liked it a lot, though.

    1. Thanks, @Obinwanne. I wanted to weave that particular pattern of strange behaviour in the thread of the story, which is why I chose it for the ending. I think it would have been anticlimactic for the next person to give an ordinary response, but going with a different pattern of strange behaviour would have worked, too.

      Be very clear that I don’t actually see T-Shirt as crazy; sometimes, people do strange things for very logical reasons.

  12. By Jove! Your story just made my day; very comical, to say the least. I truly enjoyed it. T-shirt is a ‘typical’ Nigerian. Well done.

    1. I’m glad you liked it, @myself.

  13. Very funny with a funny ending again…I enjoyed it! Well done

    1. Glad you liked the ending, @Enoquin. I still don’t think it was as funny as this story. :)

      1. @Tola: Oga Tee….abeg no too make me blush o….my small head don dey swell…

  14. Clever Suit…now he has to get the hell off twilight blvd. Nice one!

    1. Or he might just end up going to ‘Drink and be Jolly’ to drink away his frustration in not being able to get to Adekoya Street, @DottaRaphels. :)

  15. I’m glad Suit cut T Shirt short. I was really getting anxious about when he would finish giving his “directions”.

    1. @Sonteil, as the reader, you shouldn’t care about Suit – instead, you should be hoping that T-Shirt should have continued his wacky descriptions for your amusement.

  16. LOL….very descriptive,I like the name of the church haha

    1. Long time, @Gretel.

      If you think that name is funny, you should check this out (assuming you haven’t already seen it):

      http://www.naijastories.com/2011/02/naming-houses-of-god/

      1. hahahahaha>>>just saw this oh CHRISTTTTTT.
        yay….long time

  17. Brilliant and funny. Smooth writing too. I do agree with @obiwanne that maybe some kind of resolution – Suit somehow gets to his destination – would have made a better ending.

    1. Thanks, @Obiaguomba, and I’m glad you liked it.

  18. i liked it. but it looks more of an excerpt. keepnwriting though. cheers

    1. It’s a flash story, @nicolebassey – that’s why it’s short.

      1. i know it is a flash but the style is that of a novel. with very few words at ones disposal, it may not be easy to give Tshirts narrative word for word. So to me it seemed like an excerpt , telling us something interesting that someone witnessesed before going on to other things n themes. good work though

  19. the digression saved your story….give your instinct a clap in the back.

  20. One thing that I love about this story is the fact that its realistic! This is a well known phenomenon amongst nigerians. And the names of the xters is very symbolic- the enlightened one wears a suit while the unenlightened one is in a threadbare tshirt. His knowledge is as bare as his description while the suit is as smart as what he’s wearing. This is what I mean when I say everything has a story to tell. I’m seriously feeling this one. Good job tola!

    1. Thanks, @Afronuts. I didn’t even think about the symbolism that you pointed out.

  21. A truly Lagos thing…familiar with many things in the story.

  22. Wow………. Lagos palaba…
    Asks for direction, prepare to journey to hell
    Good one……really good one…

  23. Its worse when you are driving a nice car o. Nice one here.

  24. @TolaO: This is a very interesting potrayal of a sojourner’s dilemna . Reads very familiar and well written.
    Well done

  25. Hahahahahaha…

    This is the funniest story I have read on NS! Jeez! I am teary eyed now. I can’t fault anything in this piece. I like the realism–the fact that it can very much happen in Nigeria. I like the synecdochical use of T-Shirt and Suit, and I believe it heightened the comedic effect of this piece. Another thing I love about this is the characterization: You actually developed Suit into somebody that comes across as very literate and intelligent, and T-Shirt comes across as the average Nigerian who likes to tell stories (we see that in church every time: people given one minute to tell their testimony but wanting to spend thirty minutes to fully dramatize/narrate the incident). I also like how you described things and places here. The way you described the church and stature especially, would make us glad to work our minds to immediately develop the images in our head so we can enjoy your story even more. In other words your story didn’t force us to unwillingly imagine its setting.

    Beautiful piece Tola. Keep improving your art. There is no end to learning.

  26. @TolaO, this made me laugh. Very funny and realistic. Something similar happened to me a few weeks ago, where I trusted the directions of a helpful man and ended up forty minutes away from my destination. I can laugh about it now. Your ability in painting your settings and characters so accurately in very little words is impressive. Welldone.

    1. I’m glad you liked it, @olajumoke. I like telling stories based on such everyday occurrences. If you liked this, you should check out Any Amount, which is something that people are fond of saying when you ask them how much they want for some help they have rendered.

      1. @TolaO, I will sure do. Thanks for letting me know x

  27. Really, really nice.

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