Fast Friendships have been formed in Lagos public vehicles. Short lived movements protesting the increase in fares, united choruses urging the conductor to let go of somebody who could not afford the full fare (after all, other passengers had paid the full fare for a 10 minute distance), or short-lived marriages orchestrated by a bus conductor who was too lazy to secure individual change for two passengers and left them to source change on their own. Wives have found their husbands in buses and relationships have been formed in the go slow Lagos roads are well known for.
It was one of those mornings I left the house early. Hating the fact that, five years after graduation from the University, I still could not afford a car of my own. As I got into one of the many rickety Danfos that ply the Ojota/ Ikeja route, the frown on my face ran so deep, I knew even the conductor would not dare risk being rude to me that morning. As if things were determined to work against me, there was traffic all the way from Oregun. With a trailer parked to the right side of the bus and emitting exhaust fumes like it was its mission to suffocate us, I had no choice but to look out the window by my left. It was at that point I noticed her.
She was riding past on a motorcycle popularly known as Okada. What caught my attention was the Brazilian weave she had on. She was struggling with her laptop bag and handbag. Just as her Okada passed my bus, the Okada rider chose the opportunity the go slow presented to hand her the bike helmet. She collected it, attempted to wear it after close scrutiny and took it off immediately. She perceived the bowl of the helmet and wrinkled her nose so hard, I smiled. She looked at the bus in time to see my smile and smiled back, rolling her eyes. I could only imagine the stench from the helmet and knew nothing would make her put on the helmet. She added the helmet to the things she struggled to hold on her lap and her Okada driver finally found enough space to meander through, leaving my bus behind.
I wondered how she happened to be sitting on an Okada that morning. Was she car challenged like I was or was she trying to beat the traffic using a bike. From my assessment, the hair on her head was nothing less than N60 000. Like the woman I was, I assessed her shoes, bag, clothes and of course, make up.and I must say she was on point! I felt consoled. If she could be on a bike this morning (for whatever reason), I in my Yaba bought T.M Levin shirt and second hand trouser had no reason to complain. My bus moved slowly along and in 20 minutes, we were finally approaching Allen Junction where there was a crowd, standing around an Okada, which lay on the floor.
“Accident again!” the woman in the seat ahead of mine exclaimed. I no know where all these okada peepu dey rush go?”
“Abi?” the woman beside her concurred. “Early morning dem go dey smoke igbo, carry people come throw way for ground”.
I looked out the window to see the accident scene better but I could barely make out a thing with the crowd gathered. What caught my attention was the helmet that lay some distance from where the crowd stood. The same helmet I saw her hold twenty something minutes ago. Normally, I would have gone on my way after alighting at Allen but I had to confirm that she was not involved in the accident.
“Wetin happen?” I asked a man on the fringe of the crowd, standing on tip-toes to see the accident scene better.
“Accident o! See how this yeye boy just carry this fine girl come kill!”
Just as he responded, I saw the heel of her shoe and part of her trousers as she lay sprawled on the ground. Yes, it was she. The young beautiful girl in Brazilian weave, snazzy shoes and leather handbag, fighting to hold on to her handbag, laptop bag and a smelly helmet.
“As the Okada fall na im the girl come hit head for pavement. Person don check. E be like say she don die, n aim make they rush the yeye okada man go hospital”, I could hear the man say through my haze of disbelief.
Written by “Naijabeb”