I hate Lagos. I have always hated it. It is the home to many: the rich in the island, the average in mainland, and the poor in the slums like Ajegunle. Lagos is overcrowded, which is one of the reasons I hate Lagos.
That particular day, I had just closed from office, a shop that sells Mobile phones in computer village, and I was walking to the bus-stop. The Obafemi Awolowo road was crowded, and we, pedestrians, moved slowly bumping into each other like ants. I usually kept my wallet in my bag, to safeguard it. But that day, I forgot. I kept it in my pocket, and then a smart chap, a pick pocket tried his skills on me, and he got lucky. The guy, he should be in his twenties, he was wearing a hooded shirt, and his hair was styled in a dreadlock. He walked along with me, and I remembered how he said that I was an old secondary school mate. I don’t usually forget faces, so I was sure he was lying. Because of that, I set a trap for him.
“Sorry please, I must have missed your face. But we had a good time at Jubril Martins,” I lied.
The chap was so naïve, and he fell into the trap.
“Yes, Jubril Martins, in Agege…Humani Street.”
I never schooled in Agege, so I was sure the guy had ulterior motives. I furrowed my face with disapproval. Before I could say anything else, he fell forward towards me, and he fit me. He quickly pleaded for his action.
“You don’t need to apologize; after all you lost your balance,”
He still apologized again. And he gave me his office card afterwards. Like that, he was gone. My purse too, but it wasn’t when I got to the bus stop did I got to know he must have stolen my purse.
Fortunately, I met a co-worker at the bus stop and I explained my ordeal. The best he could do was to give a N500. At least that would get me home, but it means I won’t have the luxury of boarding the expensive Danfo. So I moved past the buses at the bus-stop towards the highway for a sole. Sole are buses whose fares are cheap. They don’t stay in a bus stop like their other counterparts. They move from bus-stop to bus-stop stealing ‘smart’ passenger who could quickly hop into their vehicles before those rough bus tax collectors popularly called, agberos, caught up with them.
I hadn’t stayed for long when a molue came along. I had always hated a molue, but today, I wore a smile as soon as I saw it. It was meant for people who wanted a ride, trading their sitting comfortable for a cheap bus fare. A molue is usually a Benz 911 model, with its seat reconstructed so that it will accommodate more passengers. In addition to that, most molues are rickety which was the reason why Lagos state government was planning to phase them out of the state.
So many pedestrians saw the molue too, and they awaited it in anticipation. When it finally arrived, I had to put up a fight as I struggled to find a way into the bus. I was lucky to get a seat too. I sat on the poor constructed seat, and I was wiggling myself to find space for my legs. That was when I saw you. You were smiling as you sat beside me. You looked more comfortable than me, because you didn’t wiggle like I did. Maybe it was your slender feminine shape that made it more comfortable or something else, I didn’t really take note.
Your smile showed your teeth. It wasn’t as white as those painted on the toothpaste billboards. It was brown. Mine too was brown, so I wasn’t really disappointed. Anyway, your smile was charming and it attracted me to you like a bee to nectar. I soon forgot I was sitting uncomfortable.
I smiled too. And I brought out my phone, a Samsung galaxy IV, hoping it will upsurge your attractions to me. There was nothing much I could do on it; I had no active internet subscription, but I still kept on pressing it hoping it would make you fall prey. When I looked up, I was disappointed. You had brought out your own phone too, a BlackBerry Z30. I could hear the sounds of BBM alerts as you chatted. I buried my disappointment on my phone screen.
The molue was now full. About 40 people had the luxury of sitting on the death traps called seats, while some 30 people stood in the middle of the molue, holding seat handles for support. We started our journey.
I had not looked up after discovering your BlackBerry Z30 phone, but when I heard your voice, like a canary bird singing, I jerked and gazed at your face. I didn’t hear what you were saying partly due to the molue’s sound, but majorly because of my infatuation. My eyes were buried on your lips painted with a red lipstick that matched your fair skin. You must have repeated it like thrice before I heard you,
“Do you know about BlackBerry hub,” you asked, extending your Z30 to me.
“Yes,” I answered, collecting the phone from you. I was stupid because I didn’t know about BlackBerry phones. In fact, I hated them like Lagos.
“My Gmail isn’t synchronizing well,can you help me fix it?” I heard your voice clearly now. It was thin, and it sounded like it was tied with string. It threw me in a sea of lust.
“Okay,” I handled your phone and browsed around it, pretending to fix the problem, when in fact I knew I couldn’t. “The problem must be from the BlackBerry server,” I lied.
“Thank you,” you offered, collecting your phone from me. You didn’t say any other word, and you continued chatting on your phone. I was disappointed.
The journey had hit a stand-still around Dopemu, but I didn’t notice it quickly because I was talking with you. I looked outside the window trying to raise my confidence.
Ask for her name.
My confidence wasn’t strong. I was still looking outside the window, watching how a gala seller was sprinting after a bus he wanted to sell something to.
If only this people could represent us in the Olympics, Usain bolt’s reign would come to an end.
Ask for her name, she can’t bite you now. I felt my confidence boost due to my thoughts. I looked at you. You weren’t chatting on your phone again; instead, you were looking at a smart chap, who was amongst the standing passengers, trying to steal a wallet from another passenger who was also standing.
The man who was about to be robbed was unaware and he was looking somewhere else while the smart chap inserted his right hand with great dexterity into the man’s pocket.
I see you alarmed by the act, you were about to shout, and I was quick to see your intended action. I moved to stop you, but the molue swerved and my hands touched your cleavage instead of your mouth. I was late. You spoke.
“Ole, pickpocket, thieves,” You yelled, stretching to the smart chap. He tried to remove his hands from the pocket of his victim, but he wasn’t so fast. Eyes caught him, and the other passengers took the words from your mouth.
Ole, thief, barawo, you will die a miserable death this year, yeye boi, the insults kept pouring in like water from a waterfall. The smart chap, embarrassed, moved backwards towards the one of the two entrances the molue has.
“Who go allow you drop?” the conductor asked rhetorically, “we go carry reach our garage, and chiamo go carry punishment give you. Ole… barawo,” the conductor insulted, opening his ten fingers and pointing it towards him.
The smart chap sensing what was really in stock for him did the most unimaginable thing; he jumped off the moving molue. The molue sped on, and I stood to check him through the back window, but the numerous heads in the bus didn’t allow me see through.
“That guy will die a miserable death this year,” you cursed. I set my gaze at you. I couldn’t believe you could abuse, not to talk of cursing someone. Your beauty had enchanted me, but those curse from your mouth unbound the spell.
“Thank you,” the man who almost had his wallet stolen thanked you.
You smiled at him and said, “Don’t mention.”
Meanwhile, I wasn’t looking at you again. I was looking outside, seeing how other vehicles sped past the molue.
At first, it wasn’t a problem, but when the speed grounded to a zero, the conductor jumped down and announced we had a flat tire.
I quickly prayed they had a spare tire because most commercial vehicles, particularly the Danfos and molues don’t usually have spare tyres. The shout from passenger confirmed the status of my prayer- it wasn’t answered. There was no spare tyre.
Our molue began to cause a traffic jam, and it won’t be long before the Lagos traffic dogs, Lastma, come along to tow the molue. I saw you stood up, holding tight to your Z30 in your right hand while you join the scores of passengers as they rallied around the conductor for a fare refund. I joined too.
There were shouts, brawls, arguments. In the end, I got N40 out of the N100 I paid. I stood at the bus-stop, waiting for another molue to enable me continue my journey. I saw you too standing gracefully upon those high heels that raised your hips. Your voluptuous curves showing from the leggies cloth you wore. A Danfo came along. Luckily for you, the Danfo stopped right near at your front, and you made to enter it. Except, I see your eyes bulging. Your mouth opened, and your fair facial skin turned red. With a fast reflex, you move your hands to your buttock clutching to the dagger inserted there.
I look around. I saw the smart chap, whom you caught pickpocketing, disappearing amongst the numerous heads. I wanted to shout, pursue him, but I remembered that Lagos is no hero city. Everyone mind their own business. I didn’t join the sympathetic crowds that surrounded you as you slumped to the ground. I saw a guy bent over you, trying to help remove the dagger. In the same view, I see another person helping himself with your Z30. I didn’t say a thing, I just walked on.
Lagos nawa o.