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.
Yay. We’re back.