Life and Times on Wheels

There’s never been much to say for taking an okada ride, no passenger ever got off the bike with a great smile and said “Thank you for that wonderful ride, let us do it again soon.” That being the case for passengers that got on for at most twenty minutes, it was a small wonder one rarely found a rider with a pleasant disposition after a hard day’s ride.
Shittu slowed as he passed the junction, scanning three men who stood apart with various degrees of frowns on their faces. The first man to wave him down was at the extreme, he’d have to pass the other two before reaching him. He looked the fellow over and noted that his shinning skull had an even shinier crown at the fore., He wore a suit that did his figure no good, his face was swollen and bulbous with multiple chins and his fat cheeks glistened with sweat as though he had dabbled them in water. Fatter ‘Papa Ajasco’ Shittu thought as headed towards him.
Suddenly however, the man nearest to him raised his hand and blocked Shittu as he passed by. Because Shittu had slowed to almost a crawl he still kept control of his bike, though barely. Steadying himself, he looked to chastise the idiot for stopping him such a dangerous manner when the most curious thing happened; the fellow vaulted his left leg over the passenger seat and settled in, Shittu’s open mouth produced no sounds. He looked the impudent scoundrel over while the man who beckoned on Shittu first stood fixed with an incredulous look.
Without a thought, the okada rider accelerated away sparing not a glance for the cheated man who spat out “That’s why you will never progress in your life! Stupi…” as they zoomed by. Shittu could feel his passenger’s smile as they rode and when they were out of sight from the junction the man told him “British-America.” Shittu nodded, “N150” he replied.
“What? No be N80 again?”
“Which kind nonsense be this, in fact stop the bike now. Stop!”
Shittu coasted for a short distance then stopped. His passenger did not descend.
“So my friend I been ask you how much!” The man said testily.
“N150” Shittu said, “or you didn’t hear me the first time?” he did not try to hide his boredom.
His passenger did not still did not alight though Shittu could feel the tension and anger seep into the man as he sat there trying to calm himself before speaking.
“What do you mean N150!” He burst, “Is it not this junction that everybody is taking N70 for? I was even trying to help you when I said N80! What kind of human being are you eh? Do you think I am thief, did I steal money from you? Do I owe you? How can you say N150? Are you the thief?”
Shittu did not turn as he repeated, “N150.”
The passenger was almost frenzied now, “Why? Eh my friend why? What did I do to you that you doing me like this? Are you a real Christian? Are you a real Muslim? Don’t you know God? Is this life? Eh tell me, if you see someone doing this same thing you are doing to me just now to your brother will you clap for him? This is not fair oh my brother this is not fair.”
Shittu shook his bike slightly to hear the sound of fuel in his tank. He guessed he had maybe a quarter tank left. That would last a while till he could head for the Mobil petrol station, there he would get fuel at the fair pump price even though there would be a long queue, he was determined not to be suckered anymore by those thieving black-market sellers.
“N150.” Then he hesitated, “Ok. N140.”
The man seated behind Shittu raised his hand, Shittu did not have to look behind to see, he had felt it rise from where it had been touching his back only a moment ago. This did not bother Shittu, he did not believe that hand would strike him, he did not believe the hand would dare.
“Okay.” The man said, his voice weakened suddenly “I see so it is just to do wickedness that you came out for today shey? You are just here on this road, to do wickedness! That is why,” he paused to suck in air “that is why you even parked here. Here that no other empty bike passes that is why. Just carry go please, I will pay you N120.”
Shittu’s eyes slanted and he turned his neck a little to look hard at the man who had quieted now. Shittu’s stare was direct and without wile, the man knew exactly how he felt.
“Let’s go.” They sped off.
As they reached their destination Shittu gladly took the man’s money and gave him change for N120. Both parted with viciously blank faces, their eyes masking their thoughts as if in sync. Shittu kicked off, planning to make a U-turn and head back the way he had come. He did not like heading past the British-America, the people beyond here always managed to bring out the worse in him plus the soldiers over there did not have any qualms with shooting anyone they considered a threat to peace, and peace hung on a very thin thread now.
He made his turn and quickly picked up his speed, he almost missed the young woman in black skin hugging trousers standing on the other side of the road as she waved to him brightly making sure she caught his attention. Shittu watched for cars on the empty road and again turned around and parked beside the lady.
Shittu noticed her trousers. They looked like jeans but the material seemed too fitting and crease-less to be jeans.
“Abuja hostel” she said, Shittu did not know the University was still running, not in this ghost town anyway, “How much?”
He looked to the ground and found an empty can of coke with his eye then he remembered he had nothing to eat all day long. Yet he still felt no hunger, his thoughts immediately reverted to the charming material that made up the lady’s trouser. It was fascinating to watch it fit as she lean on one leg to another, comfortably fulfilling its mistress’ desire for comfort and attraction. Shittu slowly raised his eyes and to her long bright shirt-dress that almost touched her knees and from there he met her face and saw his expectation realised.
She wore no make-up his eyes could discern though he was directly in front of her. She had clear skin, the colour of rich coffee though on her left cheek Shittu spied the beginnings of a pimple budding. Her eyes were oval and perfectly fitted to her face like eyes usually are. Her nose was beautiful to Shittu, he really liked the way her nose and mouth merged to form a hexagon.
Shittu said “Abuja hostel?” She nodded, “150 Naira.” Shittu looked to her. She did not flinch or falter but simply paused her fidgeting for a brief second then got on his okada.
Shittu felt her slide onto the bike. He waited for her to settle in before he would begin, this ride would last as long as thirty to forty minutes. When she was comfortable he started his bike and set out, carefully weaving through some earth that he suspected might have nails in it. As he got on the road, he froze in total shock for his new passenger had gently wrapped her arms around his waist and snuggled closer to his back. He could smell had perfume and it was nice, nothing spectacular, but it was nice. Too nice.
This ride lasted long. Shittu took his time to sense her hands around his body, to feel her grip tighten when he swerved too fast or hit a bump. He almost felt her pulse quicken as they raced by trailers and other big vehicles. He felt so alive he could touch germs right then, he smile a big smile that showed his teeth and felt the pleasant wind against his face.
When they arrived the hostel his passenger did not mean to (Shittu thought) but her breasts poked hotly into his back. Shittu was almost sad to feel them disembark along with the rest of her.
“Wow.” She said clearly dazed. “You are crazy oh.” She remarked with a catchy grin. She was wide eyed and excited, probably frightened at some point he imagined, but she gamely bore her anxiety and let him have his fun. Shittu was touched, it is not everyday that one meets a woman who lets a man play and live precariously.
She fished around her purse and brought forth a N200 bill which she handed to him. Shittu did not remember what he price, if any, they had agreed on, all he remembered was her scent and the feel of her warmth around him. He dared to hope, he dared to dream.
Shittu reached for the money but stopped his hand midair. Then he waved the money away and mustered every atom of strength, will, courage and faith he had in his being and said: “I don’t want your money. I like you. Can I please have your number if that’s not too much to ask?”
She was smiling still but quickly put away her money. “I am sorry, but I don’t give my number to strangers,” came her reply.
Maybe it was the smile, maybe Shittu had too much Alomo to drink four nights ago but in came the will to press on and he did, even managing to match her smile as he replied, “Stranger? Haba we just shared an exciting journey here together. We are now friends.”
She chuckled at that and suddenly the smile vanished. Shittu’s heart tumbled in trepidation.
“I don’t give my number to okada riders oh. I was trying to be nice but please, don’t force me to insult you, I have standards abeg. You didn’t even go to school sef.”
The scales fell from his eyes then, what had seemed like a pleasant smile returned as a mocking grin. He felt her contempt and annoyance at him for keeping her talking under the sun even while their business was over. What was he thinking he thought to himself?
Wordlessly he zoomed off.
It was not long after that he had to stop and wipe his eyes. Stupid specks of dirt had got in and caused tears to start to flow from them. Surprisingly however they did not stop now. They kept coming. The tears, the stupid tears.

4 thoughts on “Life and Times on Wheels” by Bamidele Eze (@Kraftykele)

  1. hahahaha…………….. i nor fit laugh, see as the babe turn u mumu

  2. The story was real enough for me to feel the bike man’s pain …those stupid tears.


  3. Interesting and a lill bit hilarious though I could feel de Bike man’s pains Hmmm such is life

  4. Oh I feel sorry for him , but such is life .

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