Right after the commercial motorcyclists “okada”, tricycles are next on my “avoid if possible” list. We all know how close to impossible this is, though, with the madness called Lagos. They are a necessity if you don’t have a car. I jumped into one of those within the week as soon as I heard “fine girl, you dey go Express”? My bus rides are usually time for me to enter into myself. I’m usually deep in thought or as close to pressing my nose to the window to see the things speeding past me as possible. Some childhood habits just never die. Of course you can’t press your nose to the Windows of a “keke” because there are simply no Windows!
” I love you!” This was the first thing that hit me when my bum had hardly settled in my seat. Goofing around, are we? Two can play that game. I played dumb.
He said it again, louder this time. I caught his eye in the rearview mirror. Without missing a beat I replied “I love you too” and looked away, hoping he got the message. He grinned instead.
Gawd no! This one seemed to be one of those long winded, ever cheerful people and I was not in a talkative mood. That didn’t deter him. “Will you marry me?” he asked. Without wasting a second I said, “of course”. I had hoped to catch him unawares by not trying to act coy. It worked. He was a bit startled at my reply. Then he laughed gaily and launched into the story of his broken heart. Even as passengers piled in, he continued his story, occasionally glancing at me in the mirror to be sure I was still listening.
“Are you an Edo girl?”
“Where are you from?”
“Oh, you Igbo girls. The girl I wanted to marry was Igbo you know”
“Hmmm”, I say. I’m thinking “TMI?” But my simple response seems like more than enough fuel to drive him on. I needn’t say more. He just keeps on.
“Her people said I couldn’t marry her. Her mother actually told me she liked me and that was why she was advising me not to waste my time and money on her daughter”
” I really loved that girl. Her name was Florence. ” At this point he smiles in memory of this Florence girl. I find myself cracking a small smile. I can’t help it. He’s a smiler .
“Her mother explained that she has just two daughters and wanted them to marry close to home”
“She told me she would get pregnant for me so that her parents would have no choice but to give her to me in marriage. It was painful but I had to let her go. I’m not that kind of man.”
All this time, the other passengers are listening, but don’t get the full gist. I tell him I’ve reached my stop. Handing him the currency note, I tell him, “You will find your real woman someday, don’t worry.”
The fact that this taciturn passenger finally managed a full sentence seems to have made his day. He flashes me a winning smile.
“Thank you sweetheart”
Ooookay, too much familiarity already. A simple thank you would have sufficed but anyway, I’m off the vehicle. As I cross the road, I think to myself, “This would be good for the blog”. Unlike the one million other times I’ve said this in the last four months, I actually go through with it.
Sometimes people just want someone to listen to them. They don’t expect you to solve their problem, but just to listen. You never know when or where you’ll be expected to play the shrink to someone. Whenever that is, remember :if you must be anything, be kind.
A short while ago, I almost gave up blogging. I had got my custom domain name last year, which meant that I got rid of the wordpress.com addition to my blog name. Perhaps I had thought that the action would transform my blog into something better than the toddler it was/still is. In other words, I tried standing an adult on a toddler’s legs. I’d probably thought, somewhere in my subconscious, that a move in that direction would make me a wellspring of creative ideas on what to write about. The crushing disappointment shown by a cursor steadily blinking at you from your screen, is perhaps one of the most exasperating representations of writer’s block.
For people of my kind who fell in love with words at a young age, writing about the things that matter to us is, as I like to put it, like a wild bird in a cage, flapping about and looking for escape. Writing, for us, is the key to the lock of that cage. The release felt from putting thoughts to paper, (or from keyboard to monitor) is pretty much indescribable. That people actually read what you write is the icing on the cake. Knowing that even one person, read your work and was influenced positively, (especially with the population of clickbait swimming all over the ocean of the Internet) is the best thing ever. There has never been so much to read on the Internet as there is right now. It is a humbling realization knowing that: you have a gift, but so do others. There’s no rule that says your work must be read. I do not know if this helps the case of writer’s block, but it does help put things in perspective . I like to metaphorize writer’s block as many wild birds flapping in a cage, with you the writer and cage owner, frantically searching for the keys to the lock, and coming up empty regardless of the effort.
For seven days in a row, there have been rains in Lagos. Eight days, depending on your area. For Lagosians, this means traffic even worse than usual, runny noses and coughs every direction you turn, dreary weather and floods in differing proportions (the island is worst hit. All hail our government for trying to push water away to create land for more ridiculously expensive highbrow dwellings that get submerged every year. Well, the water is pushing back.).
I do not work a nine to five job but rather do the field stuff and work from home a lot, making my earnings by way of commissions (which have taken a nosedive since the onset of 2017. Don’t mention the R word). Padding around the house in the complete home-high-fashion ensemble of sweater, thick socks and a blanket plus my (really dorky) glasses, drinking a hot beverage and reading two books alternately, I realize I cannot quit blogging. Not now, at least. While I might never write the great novel, this precious space gives me most of what I need to unclutter my cerebral apartment. There are so many beautiful, interesting, exciting, thought provoking, emotion inducing things to write about, so I’m not getting off this train yet. If I did, the wild bird might flap till it gets tired, starves and dies. That’d be a crying shame.
A great writer once wrote, “you can’t edit a blank page”. Reading that quote motivated me to put pen to paper, and here we are, a full page already!
It’s my birthday in a few days. Every year I unconsciously expect a new birthday to usher in a changed version of my person, but it’s the same face in the mirror and the same personality year after year. The main change, is a new kind of awareness, mostly in response to events, whether planned or incidental.
For those longest time, dating back to my teenage years even, I had regarded the sayings “you are as old or as young as you decide to be”, “age is just a number”, and “it’s never too late to start” dubiously. I felt like they were used by people desperately trying to reclaim a lost or misspent youth. Until I began to find myself feeling like a tired, world-weary 50 year old trapped in a lissom, 20 year old body; or a playful, fun-loving 10 year old prankster trapped in a 24 year old body.
I have done the proponents of these sayings a great disservice. I think I finally get it.
Here’s to being the best versions of ourselves. 🍸And to never quitting. 🍸
You probably don’t know it, but you have something someone else desires terribly.
A gap in the teeth is an abnormality, a defect. So is a dimple. A genetic defect caused by shortened facial muscle, that one. But this is all anatomical balderdash. Tell this to the women in Aba who go to carvers to chisel out a gap in their teeth at a very high risk, or the girls who attempt surgery to create dimples on their cheeks. The long and short of it is that people look for ways to achieve said defects as an item of beauty. The beholder calls the shots after all.
A mole on the face or body is a defect. I have two on my neck, and that one above my lip. Spent hours in my childhood trying to remove it, till I saw a very beautiful woman put the exact same dot above her lip with black liner ; the final touch in her makeup. It didn’t look so much like a defect after that.
A fart is a fart is a fart.
Kembu, my sister, had an operation and was not allowed to eat any solid food till she was able to fart. For three days she was on intravenous fluid nutrition. How long can you stay away from eating actual food? On the third day, mother came into her hospital room and met her smiling, all 32 of her teeth almost walking around the room on their own. “Mummy, I farted!”, came the announcement, in the same tone of voice you’d announce, “Dad, I got into Harvard on a full scholarship!”
What is a fart again?
Oh, it’s that thing we all do but never want to admit we do. Biology says a healthy human makes about 4 to 14 successful attempts daily. Too smelly and “messy”(pun intended) to be spoken about. But somebody prayed to be able to do it.
7:45pm. She’s on Cele overhead bridge, stuck in traffic. Amid the sound of horns and drivers cursing at each other and hawkers calling out their wares, she takes off her stilettos and puts on her handy flip flops, alights from the bus and walks the rest of the distance, passing the cause of the traffic and crossing the road to take a tricycle to her final destination. A pair of eyes follows her every move hungrily from behind her tinted window, air conditioned luxury car. If one could just park on the bridge and return later to pick up her car…. She sighs and blares her horn even louder.
Life is a well spiced pot of ironical jollof, the party type.
If you’ve heard Simi’s “Jamb Question” song, then you probably understand what I mean. This is the one thing that i don’t envy guys for, the fact that you have to think of something ingenuous to catch a lady’s attention. It reminds me of a sales class I once took, where we were made to try out different “elevator speeches” which had to get the attention of the prospect in about 30 seconds. People got really creative! But theory is always easier than practical, especially if you have the tendency to be tongue tied when on the spot!
So the other day when I heard Simi’s song again, the idea for this post popped into my head. What’s the best “toasting” punchline you’ve ever heard? I compiled a few I had experienced personally, so, awon boys, identify your category. I’m not looking for trouble, just being my usual cheeky self. The punchlines themselves aren’t weird per se, just laughable. To me anyway. Here goes….
I’ve been watching you for some time now. I like everything about you, the way you walk, talk, your smile, your charisma, in fact, you actually seem too good to be true. Will you be the mother of my kids? Me: smilingly basking in the euphoria of being called “too good to be true”, till he gets to the “mother of my kids” part.Nibo?! Oga how far na? I never even gree for girlfriend, we don enter labour room already! Chai! 😒
What’s your name? Okay where are you from? Really? So is your dad a titled chief? What does he do for a living? Are you Catholic? Whats your genotype? And how old are you? Me:Egbon, ees not that serious. We just met two hours ago. Sheesh.
Has anybody ever told you how beautiful you are? You’re, honestly the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen. Me:(jaw drop) Oya, collect this award. It’s either you’ve been living under a rock all your life, or you’re definitely the biggest liar I’ve ever seen.
Do you believe in love at first sight? Me:(in full geek mode)Weeeeeeeeeell, but then, a very high percentage of people are either long or short sighted, so…..(I didn’t really say this oh)
Immediately I set my eyes on you, my heart told me,”This is your wife”. Me:Really. Tell me more. I didn’t know hearts could talk.
You look familiar. Do you attend Watchman Church at Oshodi? Me: Really? With this full face of makeup I’ve got on? Jeez man! You can do better than that na! Hian!
There is absolutely no reason why a beautiful damsel like you should be walking under this hot sun. Care for a ride? Me:That’s sweet. Thank you, but I’m right in front of my gate.
Do you have a sister called Harmony? You don’t? But your name is Sylvia right? No? So what’s your name? Me:Well played! Sharp guy!
Please oh my people, I’m not trying to slight anyone, this is just for us to share a few laughs. You have to love our boys for trying hard. I mean, think… What if you were in their shoes? Chai. The great thing is, many successful relationships have emerged from these seeming “jamb questions”, so don’t be so critical abeg.
And erm, these replies, most of them were given in my head. In real life, of course I’d just give a very proper, polite reply. 😄
Please brethren and sistren, don’t laugh alone, share with your friends! And please share your own stories in the comments section, whether you were the toaster or the toastee….😉
Rain. Lagos. I dislike the combination immensely, but this is our present reality. Like everyone else, I just deal with it and move on. I hope you’re not having a hard time of it. Moving around in Lagos is a chore already, the rains just compound the situation with hike in prices on some routes, and the usual “potopoto” everywhere.
My son Matt, (well, we were classmates in uni but somehow I managed to graduate with two sons. Don’t ask me how. Lol) is a Jos – bred boy. His family moved to Lagos when he was already grown. Currently he’s completing his masters degree, but decided to come down to Lagos and spend time with family and friends.
This fateful day, he had finished some business at Apapa and on leaving, asked his host for directions on how to get to Bariga. He received these instructions : “From here, take a bus to Mile 2. From Mile 2,take a bus to Oyingbo. Then from Oyingbo, you’ll get a bus to Bariga”. Instructions noted. He took a bus to Mile 2 as instructed, and when he alighted, he was going towards the big danfos called “Molue”, that plied the Oyingbo route, when he heard “Bariga! Bariga!”. What luck! He immediately hurried and got on the bus, happy that it was a small one and would fill up quickly. He couldn’t believe his luck, and, just to be sure, he asked the conductor, “Na Bariga abi?” And he vigorously answered in the affirmative. They began the journey. And what a journey it turned out to be!
As a jayjaycee, he really couldn’t tell that he was on the wrong route, until the journey got really long. When he finally registered his surroundings, he realised one thing. This could only be Lagos Island! What the heck was the relationship between Bariga and Marina? He accosted the conductor who was bewildered. “But na Marina I dey call now! Bariga keh? Who dey go Bariga? Abi you no dey hear well”? 😭😰😥.
My people, so began he the journey from the Island back to the Mainland. That is the tale of how a 2 hour journey extended to more than four hours. We had a great laugh when he told me about this incident. What a welcome party Lagos gave him!
I hope you, my dear reader learnt something from this. If you no sabi road, and you ask for directions, follow the directions to a Tee! Don’t shine your eyes alone, shine your ears too, because Lagos conductors have diverse accents. Marina could sound like Bariga to you too if you don’t take care. Lol.
Life is a journey that must be travelled no matter how bad the roads and accommodations – Oliver Goldsmith
For you reading this blog, I love you. And thank you. You’re the reason I still write.
Happy new month my people. Like play like play, this year has gone halfway. Don’t beat yourself up if like me, you’ve still not been able to achieve your personal targets for the year. One day at a time, na ein sure pass.
Now to our danfo series. Today’s post is quite interesting. One thing I love Lagosians for, is their ability to turn every disadvantage into an opportunity. You see, seated in traffic, you’re bound to think of the many things you’d rather be doing with the hours you spend flattening your buttocks in that rickety bus. Now the hawkers have transformed the highway into a kind of market, teaching commuters a means of fighting bus-lag: shopping!
You will be astonished at the number and variety of things you can buy while in traffic. I admire the ingenuity of these hawkers who have turned this menace of traffic into a means of livelihood. You gotta applaud that. Have you ever helped a hawker bring down his/her wares from its cranial perch? Believe me when I say these guys carry their shops on their heads. That, coupled with constantly having to dodge speeding vehicles and greedy, violent touts, is no mean feat. Everytime I come across an honest road trader, I say a silent prayer that he/she moves to a higher level. That kain suffer no be here oh.
Like I was saying before I digressed, the variety of things you will see to buy on the roads are fantastically diverse. If you think I’m exaggerating, oya check out this list I wrote while stuck in a late evening traffic coming from the Cele-Okota Link bridge, inwards Ago Palace Way; my usual route😉
1. Gala, chinchin, other snacks
2. Soft drinks and water(they go: “Botu water lacasera minira! Botu water wazo wazo! i.e : fifty naira each. Hehe. Street code)
3. Apples and grapes(I bought some)
4. Mirrors of different sizes (don’t ask me, it’s what I saw)
5. Portrait sized pictures of Jesus
6. Hot water flasks (eh?)
7. Chocomilo cubes(I got this too. It’ll get Kiisa off my neck when I get home)
8. Clocks (really? Chei)
9. Full Plantains(you read correctly)
10. Ankara materials
11. Groundnuts, walnuts, chips (all ye hungry passengers)
13. Fresh vegetables (well, they looked fresh)
14. Children’s pyjamas (I kid you not)
17. Rat killer. This one got me. Rat poison? Really? After feeding my eyes on all that awesome merchandise, na rat poison wan help me close market? Lol.
Still, I would rather give my money to these guys than to the beggars who hang around waiting for you to give them money for nothing. Your limbs are intact, your sight and speech are good, and you expect me to pay you for being lazy. Gerrarahia mehn! Many of them are robbers masquerading as beggars just to get you to wind down the Glass of your widow before they strike. It doesn’t matter whether you’re on a bus or in your car. Please be careful, especially at night. That doesn’t exclude the hawkers who abscond with your change, especially when traffic begins to move and they know you cannot get down to give them a hot chase. Ndi oshi.
That said, it’s time to reveal the weirdest thing I’ve ever bought while in traffic: stockfish. That’s right. Stockfish. The thing do me like nollywood film too. I’m not too surprised though, someone confessed to me that she had once bought almost all the ingredients for her pot of soup while in traffic. My people, I Kent. Lol.
Tell me your own experience down below in the comments section. Make my day too!
Without a car, and having to work in Lagos, you are sure to meet certain characters on the bus bound for the same direction as you. In fact, you are not a true danfo hopper if you cannot identify any of these groups of people mentioned below.
1. The Preacher: almost every bus I get on, there’s a preacher in it. I really have no problem with this, except that really, if you had to wake up by 4:45am to prepare and go to daily mass, leaving church by 6:50am you’re probably thinking of the correct snooze you’re going to hammer while on the bus to work. But alas, you’re just about to bend your head and begin the action when a voice bellows: brothers and sisters praise the Lord! 😧😢 I usually sit up and join in the prayers and singing(despite the fact that I’m just coming from mass), until the preaching starts. Then it most of the time turns out to be a “Christians are not sinners and sinners are not Christians -hell fire and damnation – all women who wear trousers and make up shall go to hell- kind of preacher. At this point I jejely put my head back down. I have a valid reason to finally sleep.
2. The Change Collector: When the conductor yells “Wole pelu change yen oo!” You better take him seriously and have your change at hand, or else, you will automatically fall into this group, or you may end up doing what I did here. “Aunty please help me with your #100”, “Uncle please do you have change?”, this is the usual pitch. I’ve been in this situation a lot of times and OYO is your name when everyone on the bus is replying no to your polite request. You will be married to another passenger by your conductor that day. If its a conductor that collects fares before the driver moves, he may just tell you to delete yourself from his vehicle with immediate alacrity. They don’t have time for stories.
3. The sleeper: Now we’re getting down to business. There are people that cannot enter a bus without sleeping. I once went in the same direction with a certain guy, and on all the three buses we got on, he slept the entire journey, despite the loud music, the road bumps, the occasional argument, and the odd exchange of words with alayes. Thats not such a big deal, until you’re on a bus with someone without body coordination. From sleeping on the backrest, the person will begin sleeping on you. Some even drool. Chei. Imagine looking back from your seat only to see all the passengers seated on the next row, sleeping in different positions. Believe me when I say, I’ve seen it all.
4. Cheapskates: These are the group of people that like to “lap”. Sometimes you see two wide hipped women planning to lap! I pity you if you’re to sit beside them. The most incredible situation is when the bus fare is 30 or 50 naira, and two people still want to lap! Students are the biggest culprits in this, but at least they have an excuse. Heck, we all did it at some point in secondary school. But for someone to be planning to lap 3 or 4 children? Wetin man nor go see kwanu? What about those who bargain the bus fare? It is the state of the economy, my people. O ga oh.
5. The Meddler: That is how somebody will just be on her own, making a personal call on the bus, only for her to hang up and one aunty or uncle beside or behind her will decide to help her life circumstances by offering unsolicited advice. Ejoor uncle abi aunty, except you’re directing me to where I will get free money, face your front. Ees not your problem, nor your business. Tainkiu.
6. The musician: I decided to tag this group “musician” because it is normal to plug in your headphones while on the bus, but very abnormal to try singing what you’re hearing out loud for other passengers. Trust me, you will sound like a mosquito. While some can be really loud and annoying, some people actually sound good, but, why would you decide to display your singing skills at 7pm on a bus loaded with tired passengers who just want to go home and rest? Kini problem yen?
7. The current tapper: For those who don’t know what tapping current means, it means someone discreetly making body movements that bring him or her in contact with another’s untouchable parts. I still wonder why men do it, because it makes no sense to torture yourself for nothing. You will just be minding your business, then one oga beside you will use “style” to brush your breast with his elbow. Or another uncle sitting behind will be trying to use his knee to “chook” the living daylight out of your buttocks. I usually excuse the first attempt as a mistake, but the second time, you will get a good dose of my medicine. Nonsense!
8. The Farter : Brethren and sistren, pray you never come across this person on your way! You may not survive the journey(I kid), or you may end up alighting before your bus stop, just to get some good air. Sometimes when when I’m on the bus and I detect the presence of such a person, I look around at everyone and try to decipher who is responsible. I’m never able to. Lagosians have a record breaking degree of “straight face syndrome”. Tufiakwa.!
9. The Market People : You know them by the large sacks or baskets of goods(mostly foodstuff) that they carry. I once boarded a bus to Oshodi, and subsequently, three market women bearing baskets of dry fish entered with their wares. I would have looked for a way out, but I was in a tearing hurry and the bus was already full. I was on my way to an Interview with my fine pressed suit and shiny everything. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job. I can’t tell whether it was because I smelt like a fish seller or because I studied life sciences and not business administration. *shrugs*
10. The Readers: Ifall into this category, especially when it’s not an interesting bus. My eyes remain glued to the book I’m reading till I realize it’s my bus stop and yell “Owa oh”! . I meet very few people who fall here, but they do exist. Close to this category also, are the phone pressers. They will press phone until they almost pass their bus stops. If you count reading a book on my phone as” phone pressing”, then I’m guilty of this one too. Some will be on social media and forget their change with the conductor. Kontinu.
11. The Toaster: Fine Bobo sees fine sisi on a bus, fine Bobo assumes she’s not taken and decides to try his luck. I’ve never seen a lady that responded positively to this bus toasting, except once or twice. Most of them don’t even understand body language. When you’ve been trying to get my number and I’m busy still pressing phone or reading one big book, shouldn’t you know that I’m not interested?
12. The Seller: Books, medicine, phones, power banks, jewellery, you name it. Some people do all their marketing on Lagos danfos. And they sell well too.
This was meant to be a fun post, as most of my posts are. So, what category did you fall into? Did I miss anyone? Help the ministry : leave a comment!