Non-fiction

Lagos to Enugu.

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I was up by 5a.m. and by 6:30a.m. Ridwan and I were jumping out of a moving Danfo at Bariga. The bus from Bariga to Jibowu suddenly stopped about 5 minutes from Jibowu. Fuel or a mechanical fault, Ridwan didn’t let us wait to find out. We hoped down and made the rest of the journey on foot.

Jibowu, a bus Park hub, presented us with a lot of choices, but one look at GIGM’s ghen ghen terminal and we walked in, totally forgetting about the conditions of my wallet.

“How much is it to Enugu?” I enquired.

2 minutes later, we were walking back out.

Odindi 5,900 naira to Enugu and they won’t be getting to Nsukka. Izz no’ me. Shey they will serve me lunch ni. Oh. The AC? OK na let me go and find ifesinachi.

We barely stepped out of GIGM, when 5 park reps bombarded us with promises. At the end we followed the Okeyson guy. Buses didn’t look bad and there’s AC gan.

We boarded at 8 a.m. I looked around at my co-passengers. Different from those I boarded with from Abuja when going to camp. Unlike the former in which I was the only non-easterner in the bus, this one was a mixture of tribes and everyone was forced to communicate in English.

Then came the park pastor. Choi. This man ought to establish a church where he can bellow his evangelism to his satisfaction. You would think he was preaching to a 100’s of people not 14. He was in the bus for 30 minutes, and all through it, he was yelling and confused about his verses.

I can’t accurately describe the relief I felt when it was offering time. He finally got down at Berger.

*****            ******

We were at Ore when I first perceived it. I was looking out the window at the hawkers traipsing through mud barefooted and criss crossing between trailers and buses to advertise their wares. Roasted plantain, grilled snail, groundnuts, soft drinks, bananas and all of the other things you would normally find in traffic.

I wondered briefly if they would still be hawking their wares if the nation’s economy was not in shambles. That was the moment it wafted past, smelling like a baby’s soiled diaper.

“God have mercy, who did this?” I exclaimed in my mind.

Have you ever experienced air conditioned fart before? It stinks!

I held my breath for seconds and when I couldn’t anymore, I stylishly covered my nose, with my hands resting on the window. I could have opened the window, but I didn’t want no one suspecting I was the culprit.  So I suffered in Silence, and continued to suffer through 3 more fart sessions.

I strongly suspected the babe sitting next to me cos the Fart sessions mysteriously stopped after she dropped at Awka. Or maybe it was one of the other passengers that dropped too.

We got to Oji River Road after taking an alternate route. The road linking Anambra to Enugu was covered by a thick mud that not even the most experienced of drivers would dare drive in.

“Road don block for front” A young man hawking soft drinks told our driver as he parked for a pee break.

He took 5 minutes to contemplate on whether to disbelieve the boy and move on or to take another route. It is not easy to be the only one with a dissenting voice in a crowd. If you can’t stand your ground, the combined assenting voices will drown out your own and you’ll be forced to join them. If our driver had stuck to his guns, we may not have spent 4hrs on that road. He had turned to go follow some alternate road despite the grumbling of the passengers, then he made the mistake of telling the driver of another bus his plan.

“Eh. That Road? Nooo. I’ll rather stay here and battle the traffic, it’s too far back.”

And so practically everyone in the bus started to shout at him not to go. Saying we were the only one turning, maybe the jam is not as bad as the boy made it to be blablabla. When he couldn’t take it anymore, and I suppose because passengers are always right, he decided not to go take the alternate route.

We would later regret that decision when it started to look like we would sleep on the road, in the middle of nowhere. Conversations started to flow, and stories of thieves and ghosts started to make the rounds. We got out of the Jam at past 10p.m. We had been there since past 6p.m. By the time we got to Enugu town, it was too late to even find a keke napep to Ujam’s friend’s apartment.

I was left with no choice but to sleep at the park with the other passengers. We rolled up all the bus windows except that of the driver. Thank God whoever it was that was ministering farts to us had alighted, else we would have all passed out from suffocation by morn.

It took me a while to fall asleep. I just couldn’t get comfortable enough. Then I woke up around 3a.m. to the sound of two children chattering and running around. At first, I was irritated at their hyperactivity at such an ungodly hour, then I started to scare myself with thoughts of whether they were really human or ghosts. Why were they alternating between crying and laughing? Why was an older person not shushing them and why was I the only one awake? I forced my eyes to stay closed, and tried to tune them out. I don’t remember when I fell asleep.

At daybreak, it was a relief to actually see the two rug rats making all the noise. They were fast asleep on a bench, after tiring themselves out through the night.

At 7a.m. I stepped into Peace Park to board a bus to Obollo-Afor. About 3 hours later I was climbing on to a bike to Imilike-Agu. We were barely 10 minutes into the bike ride when it started to rain. We stopped at a Hut by the side of the road for about 15 minutes. The rain had decreased to a drizzle, so we headed back out, only for the rain to start again. The thought of the river at the outskirts of the village overflowing the bridge spurred us on in the rain. I had to endure another assault on my nostrils. An odor was oozing from the bike man. Probably his clothes.

I alighted the bike to Oyin asking how my trip was.

“I’m alive.” I answered. “I’m alive.”

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