Ajala is a Yoruba word that translates to a traveller; you can call my friend Omowunmi and I, “Ajalas”, our incessant waka-waka is second to none. Today I bring you a gist about our shopping spree at Eko market. Wedding bells were pealing for my friend, so we had to journey from Ogun state to Lagos to get some of the needed items. We took off at dawn that day so that we could get back before dusk. What we didn’t know was that we were in for some mad adventure.
Rain rain, go away!
It started to rain when we got to the market, and we had to commence shopping in the rain. At a point, we got lost trying to find shops to buy good shoes and accessories then our beloved Igbo brothers showed up with their “other shop” syndrome. In case you don’t know what that means, my friend A.k once said that “the most noteworthy thing about the Igbo trader is that whatever he does not have is always at his other shop”. I guess you understand now. Lol
After a thorough and futile search through the other shops, we decided to keep searching on our own, and we soon discovered a perfect shoe plug where we bought the shoes. We got matching clutches to the shoes in record time, and after a few backs and forths with the seller, we purchased them. The clutch seller was happy, my friend was happier, but I was the happiest because we bought exactly what I envisaged would be perfect on her outfits.
We began another quest to find the perfect gift items, costumes, beads, fascinator, flowers and others. It was what seemed like an endless search as our inaudible resolve that day was not to settle for less so we would spot items that were close enough to what we wanted, but we didn’t buy because we considered them not good enough. We journeyed rigorously from Balogun to Idumota that day in search of these items, I could have sworn that I heard my legs sing in muffled tones; “God of mercy and compassion, look with pity upon us”. Hunger sent a nagging headache; each hair follicle was like a pinprick straight into my brain, and my eyes were beginning to turnioniown.
Wait, have you met my friend? Say hello to Ajalawunmi.
After we bought everything, we got to the park, and other commuters took forever to come. We decided to eat, and Wunmi suggested that we bought fries, but I nixed the idea. I took a glance at the fries and told my friend that it wasn’t inviting so we opted for a somewhat “inviting” rice and chicken. I took a spoon and almost threw up. Everything was wrong with that rice that I couldn’t even force myself to take a second spoon. Wunmi gave me that look of “I told you” as she tilted her eyebrow. I decided to eat my chicken, but a bite was all I had, the chicken too was horrible. I don’t know if it was the marinade, but I just couldn’t eat it. This guy and Ireti of Fuji house of commotion should be in the same WhatsApp group. How can you be cooking nonsense with confidence? Hian!
When the bus finally moved, the traffic was terrible; it started right from the market. Not long after we got out of the market, the driver started to drive on a one-way lane, and this aroused the ire of passengers. We took turns to query the driver’s choice, but he turned a deaf-mute all of a sudden like his auditory sense suffered some sort of atrophy. He didn’t answer any questions that were thrown at him, and people kept hurling insults at him till they started to see the gridlock on the other side of the road and began praying for the driver and gushing about how he had sense by deciding to pass a one way.
Road maintenance guys were working on the road at that time plus MFM and RCCG congregants were converged on their camps. The bus was moving at a snail’s pace again, and passengers were losing their patience. There was a woman who alighted at intervals to empty her bowels; there was an unbothered young man behind who was watching a Yoruba movie and laughing like an alafise. There were scads of worrywarts who took turns to fight themselves and fight the driver and of course my friend Wunmi, the only gentle girl in the bus. Lol
Egugun wasn’t careful
I looked down, and it was a call from my dad who loathes night travels, our farewell discourse that morning was on returning early. I have never seen traffic that bad; it was congestion of hundreds of vehicles and each driver trying to manoeuver. Hoots and hollers of drivers formed a piece of atrociously inharmonious music that could pass for an epic episode in the 1000 ways to die series. It was one of those nights that I wished I possessed magical powers like Merlin or Zeddicus; I would have sorcerously appeared home but wishes ain’t horses. O ma se o
Out of the blue, these soldiers appeared and stopped all the vehicles that were passing one way. Apparently, they were travelling into Lagos, and we had taken over their lane. They directed all the vehicles to a different route, and no driver could say “pim”. The fear of soldiers is the beginning of wisdom.
The driver started to try to get the bus back on the route after the soldiers left, but it was as though we were driving in circles. At this point, we were all driving with the driver because we were worried sick. When someone asked the driver how far, a cat didn’t get his tongue this time as he replied and said: “in fact emi bi mo se wayi, ko ye mi mo”.
There was no single traffic vendor, and people kept complaining about hunger and thirst. It wasn’t a tad bit funny but trust Nigerians and our expertise at making lemonade out of lemons. That’s how the urine woman got down again, and the whole bus busted into fits of laughter. This woman was legit opening her bum-bum in public as there was no nearby bush and she didn’t care two hoots. She came back and said something tongue in cheeks about her unremitting urination, and everyone roared more raucous laughter.
Have you ever be stuck in a quandary that you cannot even bring yourself to cry? there’s nothing funny about the whole situation, but then you start to laugh. That was the circumstance for most of us that night; we had exhausted all the worry megabytes that were meant for a year on that bus. Some of us joined the alafise guy to watch another movie, and we all started to laugh and gist like we have known since coon’s age. The urine woman alighted again, but this time it was not to pee, she said she was no longer travelling and dashed into the dark.
I’m not sure we completed the boring movie before Wunmi, and I started to take worship songs. At that point, we had to beckon on Jesus to please take the wheel because it was 12:00 am already. We are both choristers in the church, so when I raised a song in my alto voice, she would back me up in her sonorous soprano voice and drum as well. Almost all the passengers joined in on that worship session, and it was beautiful to watch how 16 strangers who were united by one struggle worship God in such dire straits. It made me remember the movie Titanic and how the instrumentalists did their last song together, knowing that they were all going to die. We were not dying, but we were taking too long to get to our homes. I remember one of the songs we took was Don Moen’s “God will make a way.”
From our mouth to God’s ears
The traffic cleared after a while and the driver could now speed off; what seemed like a near impossibility minutes ago. Wunmi’s phone was dead at this point, and my phone was on 1%, we had to take it on and off aeroplane mode at intervals to inform home of the progress. I honestly didn’t fear that the phone would go off; my fear was on another level. I had heard and read stories of bandits and thieves who barricaded the roads at nights and committed all sorts of atrocities to commuters, and I wasn’t ready to be a specimen. I won’t even dare to lie; several gruesome pictures that I had seen on Instablog began to surface. I began to think thoughts that I wouldn’t ordinarily have thought. I decided to bow my head and say another word of prayer but what crept in was no prayer at all
“ Abba I want to do PhD and birth my MNC dreams o, I want to marry and give birth to fine fine children o, I want to spoil my parents and in-laws, I want to travel the world, and I have only left the shores of Nigeria in my dreams and in books. I cannot die now Abba, it’s too early o, your word says no evil shall befall me and no harm will come to my dwelling, this bus is my dwelling right now, father, protect it!“
It was as though that scripture that says “God hasn’t given you the spirit of fear” leaked out at my elbow. I was thinking of unbelievable things. I finally dozed off and woke up when we were close to home, my 1% phone was still miraculously on, and we put a call across to Wunmi’s fiancé (now husband) who came to pick us. I got home around 2 am to meet my mum seated in the living room, if perturbation was mortal, it would be my mum that night. She scolded me while I ate a “breakfast like” dinner and tried to relive my escapade to her, but she was too sleepy to be interested.
I went to bed, but I couldn’t sleep because I had a plight left; how I was going to face my dad and explain myself. Everyone close to me knows my father is a “no-nonsense” man. The real liquid metal. Lol. How will I explain that I got back home at 2 am? I remembered the time he caught my elder sister buying suya outside the gate after he had instructed her not to buy. He dashed the Malam both the suya and the money and my sister had to fill up a 60 leaves exercise book with “I will never buy suya again”. I had committed a more serious offence, and I knew he was furious already. What was he going to say?
When he woke up that morning, and I greeted him, he queried me in the calmest voice ever, and I told him what happened. My dad replied “ok”, and that was it. No word followed!
Thank you for stopping by