One of the funniest ironies I’ve experienced in this part of the world where I live is how synonymous sitting alone in a public transport could be to staying in an isolated cell in a state penitentiary. Albeit, sometimes, it could be over-turned in a jiffy by getting a little acquainted with the stranger sitting next to you on a rickety bus and that also, is almost synonymous to moving from the “hole” to Emerald City in the movie OZ.
I have a deep-seated distaste for public transport. Somewhere between the restless wandering of my childhood and the gentle composure of my adult personality is a quantum of energy that keeps me positively active as a young man, even in my seemingly reticent mien. Now, what interstate public transport does to me can be likened to keeping a boundless energy on a leash of a wagon of unfamiliar faces that often do not initiate any favorable reaction. Gosh! I have suffered everything from banging headaches to churning stomachs and yeah, few months ago, a kid puked on me and late last year, a middle-aged woman drooled over me while she snored shamelessly; all the while using my shoulder as a pillow. I didn’t have the nerve to tell her to sit right when she was apparently bent on taking her composition to a resounding climax.
I have found respite in books, magazines, ear pieces glued to my ears (while listening to Don Williams, Dolly Parton or Kenny Roger), sleeping or just about anything to get me by on this trips but today I was bereft of these saving tools, save for my notepad that isn’t doing enough distraction. I sat forlornly wishing the next 2-hours would swish and plant me in my destination.
The whole world seemed at a stand until relief surfaced out of the blues. Queuing in front of the bus tattered door, was a lady with an angelic body, spotless skin (at least from the first appearance) – a perfect paradigm of a model figure. She entered the God-forsaken vehicle, smiled and sat next to me. The smell of her perfume, her luscious lips, an hypnotizing Egyptian eyes, the titillation as her hair touched my neck while adjusting on her seat, her soft palm touching my muscular arm while she whisper “sorry” for mistakenly rubbing her stunning hair against my nape, her soft innocent voice… all got me almost witless. Her smile reveal the best dentition which could only have been aced by Modupe’s and Damilola Katherine’s, (though mine would have also made the list of top five had I not lost a tip of my incisor while working it on my lady’s zipper on a romantic evening sometimes ago in ’06). My hard-look, resulting from boredom and the chagrin of staying in the bus for close to three-quarter of an hour desolately waiting for two more passengers to come, melted away in a flash.
This can’t be real, Can it?
Staring was ruled out of the options for fear she might discern and resolve to move to another seat. Right there and then some effusive thoughts started flooding my mind… Are we going to communicate or is this going to be a reactivation of another solitary state? I hoped for the latter not to happen. “The next fifteen minutes will tell. Thank goodness it’s a 2-hr journey” I finally decided. A chance I dare not miss.
I don’t usually do this, at least not since I fell in love with Modupe. Starting a conversation with “Has anyone ever told you how beautiful you are” and expecting a smile and a “Thank You” is a “fucking” lame and archaic line. Not even in this part of the world where players and bad guys alike have “spoilt all the runs” by misusing lines like that on seemingly innocent and somewhat naïve girls. They have redefined the word “beautiful” to refer to any dame they desire to have a taste of the juice from the fruit buried underneath her pants. The ladies, consisting of the beautiful ones, the so-called beautiful ones and the wannabe-beautiful ones who crossed the “beautiful” river thanks to the special rod of make-ups, spend more than one-quarter of their day accessing their “accessories” and transmogrifying their looks to make sure this exquisite adjective becomes a permanent resident. Some, in their all-consuming obsession to carve out an image that would bear a true representation of beauty, titivate and apply different brands of make-ups from 6AM till 2PM for an occasion slated for 10AM.
I kept thinking…
The thought of what to say, how and when the right time to start the confabulation is, enveloped my mind. An opportunity was to presently open up in the way of a timely intrusion of a “nigeriac” syndrome. The rickety bus we were traveling in entered a pool-sized pothole eventfully swerving the bus sideways and inadvertently but to my delight, her hand hit me on the neck… Again! She was about apologizing (I think) but I swiftly seized the opportunity to demonstrate the humble and gentle gentleman that I am by saying “Oh sorry, hope you’re not hurt?” She was thunderstruck and somehow bowled over, so I continued “I am Ayodeji Lancaster…. and you are…?” I quickly added before she starts asking questions about the etymology of my sobriquet. “I’m Oyin” she said with an erubescent smile. I was quick to shower encomiums on her wondrous name as she kept blushing all along and later busted into an intense laugh. I got intoxicated by her laugh and laughed too (Stage One Complete – Starting the conversation).
I was again lost in deep thought thinking of what else to say to go with the rhythm, but all I could do was stare rudely at her glowing soft skin. “Are you from around here? I mean Ilesha?” She broke the silence coyly, a reticent smile playing around her luscious lips. “Yes, of course, what about you?” I said. “I am too”, she replied. Oh isn’t that just great…? The thought came again. “I went to Olatunde Memorial School”, she said (probably trying to build up the tête-à-tête). “Oh! My house is a few building away from there” (It would be really stupid to ask why we never met since we were talking about something of more than twelve years ago). We took turn to talk about our primary and secondary school days and then progressed to talk about our university days… Yeah, she’s a graduate too and a serving corps member. “I read Linguistics at Unilorin”, she told me and went further to inquire about my discipline. She didn’t give me time to digest the question before she supplied the answer with a wild guess “You read Mass Communication didn’t you?” Hell no!!! I almost screamed. “I read Chemistry at OOU”, I said, bemused. She thought I was kidding as skepticism was etched on her curiosity-stricken face. “How come you can talk like this, I was about asking if you are now a Journalist?” She said finally (after taking more than a deep breath). An awkward silence lingered between us – that feeling of fear that assail us in tense situation, that even words had to be picked through to avoid doing more damage. Wordless I became for a fraction of a minute before I finally gathered the wreckage of my already shattered courage to answer. “Seriously, I read Chemistry” was all I managed to say.
I set my arrays of stratagems and gimmicks in play to ensure she remained the main character in our “oral movie”, asking what linguistics is all about (after giving her close to half a minute to ruminate on the authenticity of my response). “Well, it’s just like every other course”, She said with bated breath. I talked briskly about my discipline and hurriedly changed the topic from politics to music, sport, general knowledge, and back again to our private lives. We talked about our hobbies, hers is reading and mine is writing. I was taken aback on realizing how much things we have in common, like our flair for art, insatiable curiosity, our religious belief (though I appear more of a free thinker than the Christian that she is) and myriad others. Our matching definition of love and its languages, almost got me fully convinced we were meant for each other but for the fact that we are both “taken”. She spoke softly yet fluently in the lingua franca as if it were her mother tongue and while I was lost in the melody of the lullaby her nice accent was singing to my brain. Again, the bus jerked forcing her to use my lap for support and this time it stayed longer; sending an electric current through my veins to my almost-overworked brain.
The only part left working of my brain was where “naija” jargons domiciled because the only sentence that came to my subconscious mind was “Omo, my own don be”. She dipped into her bag and handed out a hard covered book to me. “This is the personal copy of my final year project work”, she explained. I stretched out my hand to collect it but took all necessary precautions to make certain there was no body contact this time, flipped through and read the beautifully written acknowledgement and the superbly indited dedication. “Rest in the bossom of the Lord, Daddy, till we meet to part no more” read the last line. I stared at her with a sudden empathy and said “Sorry about the loss of your Dad, he’s in a better place now” she smiled and said “Thank you”.
Judging from previous road trips, I figured we had less than a quarter of an hour to get to our destination. I cursed my luck for the fifteen minutes expended on “careful planning” and thinking of how to start the now-very-interesting conversation. She was keen to read some of my writings so she asked for my blog address which I gave out with immediate alacrity. “Are you on Facebook?” I asked. “Yes, of course. Do search for me please”, she answered. I asked for her email address to make the “search” easy and straightforward removing all doubts. She asked to write it inside my notepad (which I had been jotting in since the bus moved) and I gleefully consented. “I don’t usually call people, my family and close friends understand, so I’m not going to collect your phone number, but being the Facebook-addict that I am, we will always connect anytime you’re online” I told her.
I was too caught up in the web of the conversation that I failed to notice that the bus had gotten to its final stop. The sound of Challenge enikan, Agbowo, Gate… rented the air and it dawned on me that the conversation was technically over. She was the second to the last person to step off the bus and I, the last because I sat at the “last angle”. I’m so pleased to meet you Ayodeji Lancaster” she said smiling. “The pleasure is all mine Oyin”, I said. She laughed again, this time louder than she did when she first told me her name. “I told you my name is Doyin not Oyin”, she said after recovering from the deep laughter. I laughed too and apologized for mixing the two names up. We shook hands and parted, both heading toward the opposite direction. Parting is such sweet sorrow, especially when it’s not sure we see tomorrow. I watched her as she vanished into thin air and went down memory lane, thinking about our just-concluded conversation and I realized the reason why she laughed so loud when I was praising the name “Oyin” as the sweetest name a beautiful angel could bear. I smiled and said to myself “I hope to see you again my angel in a rickety bus”.