Tag Archives: Lagos

The bus ride

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Hey guys, *cough* *cough* this blog is so dusty! It’s really been a while. As this is the first post of the year, happy new year!!! *fireworks*.
So I decided to join this WordPress writing challenge that’s aimed at helping you post more and write better. Yippeee! Let’s see if it actually makes me post more often *fingers crossed*.
Today’s post is in response to the weekly writing challenge. This week, it’s a challenge to talk about a person, a place and a thing. ( http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/person-place-thing/ ). ENJOY!
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I walk briskly towards the multitude of parked yellow buses with black stripes and try to listen closely to the slurred names of places the conductors are calling out. “Sango, Sango Ota, Sango”, I barely manage to make out. I turn to my left and see him beside a bus as rickety as he. I walk up to him and ask “Sango?” just to be sure because with Lagos bus conductors, I’m never really sure what exactly they’re saying. “Yes, sister, enter”, he says in English laced with a thick Yoruba accent and he proceeds to dust my seat with his old palms before I sit down.
As I take my seat by the window, I begin to properly study this old conductor. He is bent over with age but I can tell that he was a tall and agile man in his prime. He is skinny and he has a crown of grey hair. He has tribal marks on both cheeks; each cheek has 3 horizontal black lines above 3 vertical black lines. His face is etched with wrinkles; I can tell that they are not only from age but also from worry. He is about 70 years old from my ‘guesstimation’ which makes his being a bus conductor so fascinating as bus conductors are usually aged 15-35. I wonder what his story is and I can tell it will be a very interesting one. Everybody on board the bus is calling him “Baba”(father), respectfully, as is customary. Under normal circumstances, there should be 2 seats left on the bus for passengers to fill as the conductor usually stands and clings to the side of the bus but this is not a normal circumstance. There is only one seat to fill as Baba will be occupying the second because he is too old and weak to stand and cling to the side of the bus like other conductors. Eager to fill the last seat, Baba is doing a funny dance to attract a passenger as he screams “Sango, Sango Ota, Sango”. Baba was obviously the life of countless parties back in the day. He successfully attracts a young woman and begins to collect money from the passengers. As he collects money and gives out change, I notice just how thin and shaky his hands are with many visible veins. I also notice that he’s missing quite a number of teeth as he smiles often. He is a happy old man. He is polite to all the passengers and in return, the passengers are polite to him. I imagine he’d be a pretty great granddad.
As Baba slowly collects money, I look out of the window at the area we are in. I had been in such a hurry to find a bus before that I didn’t look around much. This is the first time I have been to this part of Agege as I don’t come to Agege very often. To my left is the highway with cars racing by so I decide to study the area to my right. This area is quite filthy. It is muddy and there are heaps of garbage in several places and many stagnant greenish puddles with mosquitoes flying over them. The area is also rather smelly. I can only imagine just how horrible it is on a rainy day. It must be one of those parts pictured in encyclopaedias about Lagos that make you wonder why the wicked publishers didn’t use pictures of nice places like, Victoria Island and Lekki. The bus I’m in is next to a railway line befitting of the very old and sick-looking trains which are typical of Lagos. As usual with all the Lagos railways I’ve seen, it is a makeshift market place. There are women on the tracks selling things from mangoes to rechargeable lamps. When a train is coming, they pack up their goods and make way to return after the train passes. There is a child squatting close to his mother on the train tracks defecating as people walk by hastily in different directions, often bumping into eachother.
My thoughts are interrupted as the bus coughs to life and begins to speed down the highway, leaving Agege behind. Baba tries to close the door of the bus 3 times before it finally closes. Both Baba and the door’s feebleness contribute to this difficulty. I can’t stop staring at the door. It is extremely worn out and is just hanging on to the side of the bus for dear life. It has definitely had its fair share of forceful and careless opening and closing. Although closed, it seems like it is not properly closed as it looks rather wobbly. The door is all metal and has a few pointy edges on it and anyone who leans on it carelessly will probably reach their final destination with a cut or two as souvenirs from this trip. The door is shaking like a leaf as the bus speeds on like it has not a care in the world. The door is so frail that I keep thinking the wind will push it open or blow it right off the bus. We reach the next bus stop and old hands meet the old door as Baba opens it with great struggle for passengers to get off the bus. As Baba shuts it again and we continue on our journey, my only prayer is that Baba doesn’t fall out if this unreliable door bursts open.

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