‘Is that the bus we are supposed to enter?’
The elderly woman asked pointing a finger in the direction of some buses parked a few meters away.
A young woman beside her affirmed.
‘These up and down buses that look like two Ekene Dili Chukwu buses joined together…’
Said the older woman in awe, sizing up the idle double decked buses parked a distance away.
‘Mama you are funny…, they are called Dublin bus’
The young woman quipped.
‘Is it only one person that is driving this thing…?’
Mama, as she was called pressed further curiously
‘Yes mama…’ another retort was offered by her companion,
‘…it’s just the same way they drive luxury buses in Ala Igbo’
‘Biko nwam…, (please my daughter) we are going to sit downstairs, in the place where we can see the person that is driving the bus, me I don’t understand this upstairs in a bus biko!’
Mama said peering inquisitively into the distance, her eyes investigating her immediate environment for the umpteenth time
The young woman cooed in amusement
‘Well, me i have told you my own. My God is in control!’
Mama submitted readjusting the edge of her wrapper once again, her hand felt her head tie, she guided it securely on her head. Intermittently she glanced over her shoulder to check on the sleepy child strapped firmly to her back…
The Blanchardstown sky was effusive with bright smiles as it looked down on the vast landscape with a reassuring beam that teased the horizon. The light breeze of the south wind complimented it with as much favour as it dispensed a feel good air all around and warmed up the mood of the day. True to the words of the weather forecast man, the day had come with all glory of brightness and colour, and a promise of prolonged spell of good weather for the day hung reassuringly in the air
Dubliners are not used to such charity from the weather and this promising clear day of fair weather offered by the early sun seemed to have added an incentive for increased outdoor activity. As early as the first sighting of bright sky, many people were hasty to shed the weight of their woolly covering for lighter, summer-esque apparel and seemed set to seized the initiative to maximize this spell of the weather’s clemency.
However, not with a few doubters though as coats, jackets, jumpers and fleecy cardigans still hung on some pedestrians. These ones couldn’t afford to leave their houses without their traditional protective anti cold garment. They are too accustomed to the sudden weather changes to want to take any liberty with their warmth. Nevertheless a size-able number of people felt otherwise as they jettisoned the wools for the cottons intent to make as much hay as possible while the sun shines.
At Ongar Village, a quiet Blanchardstown neigbourhood, a light queue had already formed at the bus stop waiting for the next scheduled bus to come forth; and this day an unusual conversation was unraveling as the voices of two people among the bus-waiting bystanders pierced the pervading calmness of that hour…
‘…How can buses just line up and they are not even moving, what kind of thing is this one, eeeehiaa, o…!’
The elderly woman complained not for the first time. A woman many had noticed earlier in conversation with a younger woman. She strapped a little child to her back with a patterned textile cloth wrapper mostly worn by women of African extraction. She raised not a few eyebrows, with the way the child was pinned and restrained on her, an unfamiliar method of moving a toddler in this clime. She was addressed fondly and continuously as Mama by the younger woman whom she was with.
She coughed out more tribal words in seeming exasperation as the bus-waiting time extended. A few curious heads turned towards her, she starred back at them and they turned their heads away…
‘…Mama, buses move here according to scheduled time tables’.
Was the gentle retort of the young woman, presumably her daughter and mother of the child the elderly woman strapped diligently to her back
‘What time table? Are they not supposed to carry human beings in those buses, look at how people are all standing here both young and old while buses are vacant with only drivers relaxing in them, and you are here telling me about time table…’?
Mama sounded unconvinced, grimacing.
‘Mama everybody here knows that the driver will not move the bus until the scheduled time he is supposed to move’
The young woman responded gently again.
‘Then they should change that time table thing to something else, imagine somebody in a hurry to go somewhere and time table is what is holding them back. What kind of time table is that, eh…’
Mama retorted more impatiently.
‘Mama don’t worry, you would soon get used to it when we go out more. Nobody likes waiting for buses but we have to follow laid down procedures’.
The woman said softly hoping it would lay to rest mama’s worry, but nay…
‘All I’m saying is that an adult and old woman like me cannot be standing and the buses that i am supposed to enter is nearby but remain vacant and closed. This people can’t even show some understanding and allow us in till whenever the driver and his timetable are ready to move.’
By now mama’s conversation with her daughter had more people listening in.
‘Yes mama, I suppose that is another way to look at it, but until that method is reversed, we are bound to wait till the buses come for us’.
The daughter explained still maintaining her gentle mien.
‘Well, me I have said my own. In Owerri motor parks, we know which bus is going where and we just go there and sit and relax our ailing bodies and whenever the driver finishes whatever he is doing, he comes and drive the bus away, that is how it is done in ITC Owerri.’
Mama’s irritation seem to increase as she spoke and more people began to pay more than a passing attention to this mother and daughter exchange.
‘Mama ozuo la nu…, (Mama its okay), you know that the ways of ndi ocha (Europeans) are not the same as ours. They are very specific to time’.
The woman answered in a placatory tone sensing the glances being cast by fellow bystanders towards them.
‘Nnem… (my daughter), okay I have heard you. I shall stand like soldier and carry my grandchild on my back and wait till whenever. Ebube…, nnam… ndo inu? (Ebube my son please endure awhile)
Mama said in resignation throwing a hand backward to pet and assuage the child strapped to her back as though the child also complained.
‘Mama, I hope you are not planning to carry Ebube like that in the bus, we will have to put him in his pram…’
The young woman intoned
‘Pra… gini? (What do you mean by pram) Biko hapurum nwam o… (please leave my son for me)… I did not come all the way from Ala Owerri to come and put my son on a bicycle like this. When my body is there to cradle him…inukwa num! (imagine!)
‘Maama, you can be funny sometimes o, it is for his safety and comfort to secure him in his pram while the bus moves…’
The daughter tried to explain…
‘…Please don’t call that thing again. If I had my way I will throw that thing away…is it in pra… or what do you call it that I nurtured you and your brothers? If you need reminding, I carried you and your siblings on my back all through and my body can bear me witness…’
‘Mama biko nu (Mama please) do as is required… before I would be held responsible.
‘Ngwa please mama… biko hand me the child, the bus is approaching, etikwalam na nsogbu (don’t put me in trouble mama)…’
The young lady reached for the child at the instant she noticed their intended bus approaching.
‘Inukwa nu m! hiaa!! (My forebears are u seeing this)… so I cannot carry my grand child on my back again…’
Mama sighed as she reluctantly released the child to the outstretched arms of her daughter.
‘Mama biko bayenu… (Mama please go into the bus)
The daughter called on mama to hasten into the bus as she delayed. Mama shrugged in resignation and made her way cautiously into the bus.
After about 10 minutes into the ride, Mama’s voice was heard again…
‘Iheoma nwam, Dublin unu nka makwara mma, (Iheoma my daughter, this your place called Dublin is such a beautiful place)…, everything is just as if they used ruler and tape rule to measure it, all the houses are all on a straight line and looking the same…’
‘Mama ina t’ochi…’ (Mama you are such a funny person)…
‘Well…, if you call that funny, then you can laugh alone, me I’m just saying what my eyes are seeing. These people know how to keep their place clean. You can’t even find one pure water nylon on the floor…’
‘Mama did you just say pure water…’
‘Don’t they drink water packed in nylon bags, the type we call pure water? Did we invent it ourselves? Is it not from them we copied how to put water in polythene bags?’
‘Mama they prefer to put their own in plastic bottles only…’
‘So nobody is drinking it and forgetting the bottle on the floor ikwa?’
‘Well…, its not that the water bottles and other empty cans of drink don’t find their way to the floor but you would hardly notice because the city cleaners pick them up quickly’
‘I wish our Owerri is half as neat as this place, even their buusu, and nkita…, (their cat and dog) are all well looked after…’
‘When will our Owerri be half as clean as this…? From Douglas to Tetlow, to Okigwe road, to Amanaku to Anara road every where is like a dust bin. If they buy akara (bean cake), it is on the floor, they buy agidi (corn cake) on the floor nwoo! Suwweeti na chingum ebe nine…pure water, nke ahun ana gun y’agun… ebe obula na a soyi… (sweet and chewing gum wrappers, used plastic bag water littering all spaces)…, everywhere is just nauseating and disgusting…’
‘Is it not the same human being God created that is living here…? Nobody is defeacating by the bends, no groundnut seller is blowing her groundnut chaff carelessly into the air, I cant see any stubborn inaga or Napep, okada driver (commercial bi- or tricycles operators) or any person hawking Aki n’ukwa or Okpa and Ji ahuru ahu… (roasted yam), I just cant see…’
‘Mama ozuo la nu….’ (Mama you’ve said too much its enough)
‘Please allow me to talk… ikwu uka, a na kwuruya ugwo…? (do they pay money to talk here)… I am seeing things that is making my heart bitter and you want me to swallow it… mba nu…(no it is never done)…’
to be contd…