Horns were hooting at their loudest, it could make one go deaf **Piiimmmmmm** **Pooooormmm!!!**. Smoke as dark as that from an inferno puffed out of the exhaust pipes of rickety looking buses they make one choke. Countless number of human beings moved in a random motion. Everywhere was so busy even as early as 5:40am! There was a loud-mouthed conductor… “owo da waju?! “Mi o ni change o!” Touts also known as “agberos” chased after buses as though they were in an Olympic race just to collect twenty naira pere! The drink hawkers were not left out, they echoed- “pure water-Bottle water-La Casera-Teem-Sprite-Malt here” as if it were one word. There were beggars who’d come and chant their begging lyrics beside the window of the bus asking for alms. Sweaty bodies, stench from drainages and dump sites hit the nose like a bombshell. YUCK! You had the option of either holding your breath and pretending you had lost your sense of smell or spit out indiscriminately like some people did and yell a “sorry” if the spittle accidently landed where it wasn’t meant to. Lagos wahala!
These and many more were what Sunde had to go through every morning on his way to work. He had wished he had his own “ride” so he could escape some of these unavoidable inconveniences. Sunde was a young man in his late twenties who had recently just left his village in search of “greener pastures” and where else could he have found the green fields except in the much talked about Lagos? After job hunting for five years with a second class upper degree in Economics to no avail, he finally got one as a Junior Marketing Executive with Siden Group of Companies in Victoria Island. His monthly salary was handsome; however he had many mouths back home to feed. So in a parasitic manner, as his salary hit the account, his folks back home thankfully sucked it off from their “saviour”. Because of this, his dream of owning a car had to be put on hold.
Sunde at the moment was squatting with his friend in a slum area of Agbara-okoko and was prayerfully waiting for the day he’d move out and escape from the noise, air pollution and mosquitoes that feasted on him every night. On this particular morning, he wished he could get longer hours of sleep. Apart from staying up most part of the night to complete his powerpoint presentation, he had to endure the music blasts that came from a brothel just a stone throw away from his compound. The phone alarm rang at 4:45am and he reluctantly picked up the phone to turn it off. He stood up lazily and carefully crossed over the bodies of Bubi his friend and his girlfriend who lay on the floor in a cuddle. He wondered how they managed to cuddle themselves so tightly when he could barely manage himself in the heat and the smoke that came from the mosquito coil that made breathing unpleasant. “Anyhoo” he shrugged…he was however appreciative of the fact that Bubi was kind enough to let him have the mattress to himself while he and his girlfriend slept on the mat anytime she visited.
In 20 minutes, Sunde was done. He decided to put on one of his favourite shirts today; he had gotten it with his first pay. He knew he looked good in it because Sandra, (a colleague at the office whom he really like but was afraid to approach for fear of being turned down) had paid him a compliment the first day he wore it. He hoped the shirt would fetch him some luck today at the presentation. He said his goodbye and hurried off to the junction to catch a bus to work. He had gotten off from the first bus when he felt his tummy grumble. Why wouldn’t it? he thought, when all he had last night was ijebu garri and epa. He had been saving up and didn’t want to spend beyond his limit. Just then he remembered the much talked about Iya Sadiq’s buka just by the bus stop and decided to pay a visit. It was 6:05am so he still had some time to spare.
He got to the office at about 8:15am and was grateful there was no traffic. He settled in and tried to put finishing touches to his presentation. “Hello Sunde” it was Sandra. His heart skipped, the way she looked today wasn’t helping; she wore a nicely fitted navy blue pencil skirt that did justice to the curves that sat on her slender long legs. Her blouse was a flowery sheer top that was quite decent but still made a man wonder what lay behind them. “I hope the traffic wasn’t too much for you today” she said in a rather alluring way. He snapped of his vain thoughts. “Oh! the journey was quite smooth today, thanks Sandra” he replied, trying to hide his almost penetrative and lost gaze. She smiled. “I hope you are ready for the presentation, we go in by 10”. “Yeah, I’m going through it again just to make sure.” “Do you need help? Let me come take a look” she said and was behind Sunde before he could even mutter a reply. She leaned forward, one hard on his desk and the other on his shoulder, her mammaries slightly brushing against his back. His mind travelled a thousand miles…“see me see trouble today o!” She said he was on track and left almost immediately making him wish she had stayed just a bit longer.
Ten o’clock came and he nailed the presentation. His boss- Mr. Sanders who rarely gave his smile had smiled today for the first time- and he was the reason. Pure joy! Today must be Christmas! he thought. The shirt had worked! Everybody in the Marketing Department was happy for Sunde; the newbie had just become a “man”. “Lunch is on me” Mr. Sanders had said. He looked forward to lunch time. He had always watched his colleagues stroll to McWright’s for lunch and because he couldn’t afford it, he feigned not being hungry or that he had eaten at home.
Lunch time, his tummy started to rumble, not because he was hungry, Iya Sadiq’s hot beans had started throwing tantrums. “Chineke m’ eh! What kind of embarrassment is this na?” he barely managed not to fart. Just then, his colleague Josh walked in… “It’s lunch time dude, let’s go”. “Errrm, I’ll join you guys in a few minutes, I need to go to the loo” he managed to say seated on his seat and tightly clasping his butt cheeks together to avoid having a fart escape. “Ok” Josh said and walked away while Sunde rushed to the toilet to let off the bombshell that was set to explode. He spent about ten minutes and rushed off to meet up with his colleagues before lunch time would be over. Walking past Sandra’s desk, the thought of her crossed his mind again. “I go gather mind ask this babe out, wetin?! Abi no be man I be?” His successfully presentation seemed to have boosted his moral. As he ascended the staircase he could hear an echo of the ear-splitting “BANG” that came not from fireworks or any of sorts after all it wasn’t Christmas yet and this was a high brow area where such would not be condoned. His mind raced…could that be what he was thinking. Another round of it confirmed his fears. Those were gunshots! He froze on the stairs…for a moment he was blank, were those thieves or the police? He could not tell. There was pandemonium outside as everyone scampered in a bit to save their lives. He could hear cars screeching to a halt. The entrance to the office was frantically locked by the security operatives.
Minutes passed and everything seemed to have quieted down as if nothing happened. For the first time in the confusion Sunde remembered his colleagues. He panicked, prayed and hoped they were safe. Just then when was trying to put a call through, they walked in, obviously fear stricken. Sunde ran to Sandra and held her close as she sobbed uncontrollably. “Thank God you are safe” he muttered under his breath. Everyone looked sad; no one uttered a word except Sandra who continued to cry inconsolably. While still trying to figure out what had happened, Sunde notice Josh hadn’t returned with the rest. He was caught in the cross fire. Apparently he had waited a while longer for Sunde and when he wasn’t forth coming he decided to leave. He had walk right into the flying bullets of robbers who had come to rob a jewellery store nearby. Sunde didn’t know whether to scream in pain or to be grateful for his life. His shit had just saved him.