Waiting for the rickety bus to deliver me to my destination, my delivery time was fast approaching. The walking dead bus forcefully stops; I climb in, walk close to the window and sit down. I stick my head out – am dreaming of a better life. A life flowing with the swiftness of dancing, the steadiness of peace, and simplicity of hope. I dream on. Absently, I turn my hilariously hanging head with hope, when she jumps in. She slowly slides and stiffens beside me, holding her son firmly on one leg and her gigantic bag on the other. I notice her hands.
These big hands are sorely black, lined with use, squeezed from the wear and tear of hours and hours of work; strengthened by the weight of carriage, paled from the life of wash and ware.
I wonder, what’s her story? Did her husband treat her hands with care? They desperately needed his support. Her palms told me they had carried sons, daughters, chores and life itself. Her face, strangely, bore little evidence of time. She wore no colours on them – plain. No artefacts on her, except her eyes, which were adorned with courageous audacity – a desire to do all she could to survive.
She shuffles beside me, adjusting her weight on the chair and her bag filled with a juxtaposition of things for her life’s journey. “Was she leaving her husband?” she seemed ready to run a new race. Those willful eyes, will me to ask her name, her story. Maybe show a little care.
Instead, I stare at my arms of fresh cotton, silk, moisture, fragility, wondering with a little selfish fantasy.
I look at her again, her body cream hung to her skin with force – she shone, shiny black, glittering like the fake polish on her shoes. She stretches her arm; her hand is holding a N200 note. Surprisingly, her arms are free of smell, vehemently washed clean, “gba owo e” (take your money), she says to the bus conductor. He quickly grabs the money and places an old, scruffy note of N50 change in her palm. She looks at the note, a titbit unsure whether to accept it or give it back. “Should she demand for a better note, like she was demanding for a better life?” She surely deserved better, I imagined she was saying.
She had preserved through the trails and pain, the beatings and the shouts of anger. No more, she must have thought, her will was gone.
She then decides to test her sons will, looks at her leg and says, ‘oya, gba owo yi (take this money).’ Her son inspects the money and condemns it, ‘oti sha, mi o fe (It is faded, I do not want).’ Innocence, innocence always wanted to have their way. Innocence was alive to possibilities and dreams; it fought for better, but time dried innocence wings and drained the energy to fight. Though, I hear the wise don’t let their fighting spirit die, they only choose their battles.
As she thinks, I think the word ‘faded’ fitted her demeanour. She had faded along her path to train her son, faded from the handling of a man, faded from the baggage of life.
The lady makes me wonder,
Am I going to fade?
Are my arms going to wear out?
“Conductor, change this money o.” She says with urgency and anger.
He looks at her with disgust, “I no get another one.”
“I do not want this money o.” She shouts with all her might and threw it at him.
He is taken aback, “wetin dey do this woman?” (What is wrong with this woman?)
He senses her anger, and decides to let her have her way. “Take,” he hands her another note. Yes! She deserved better, she stretches to take it.
“Owa” she says, drops down from the bus, grabs her son with one arm and her baggage with another. Everyone looks as she struggles with her baggage, her tears, but look the other way.
She gets down before I remember; I forgot to ask her name.
Really, what is her story?
He was despised and rejected-a man of many sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way when He went by. He was despised and we did not care- Isaiah 53:3.Daily, we meet people with different stories, but most times we are consumed with our own failings, that we forget to love those who are hurting or maybe just smile or make them laugh…
Thanks for reading.
Have a beautiful week.
There will be a new story/poem next week.