Read Episode 5 here
The time was 9pm. We had been waiting for what seemed like hours, there had been no bus for over thirty minutes yet the crowd on the queue seemed resolute. I couldn’t help wonder why people weren’t leaving the queue in droves in search of alternatives. Could it be they had none? I like to see myself as one who had a choice. I didn’t have to be on that queue especially not at 9pm. I could get a cab. I told myself. All I had to do was walk some yards to a taxi park. I would just have to part with 1,500 naira and be home before 10 P.M.
I like to tell myself that the reason for the reluctance I felt in taking a cab was not the money, that it was more about safety. All sorts of things happen when you take cabs. A lot of people say that.
I gave myself till 9.15pm. Fifteen minutes and if no bus, I will go and take a cab. I decided. At exactly 9.12pm, a bus showed up.
“Ope o bus ti de”, the guy behind me said. I glanced at him. I had noticed him earlier and had noted that he had an unruly air around him despite the suit he was wearing. I decided it was best to bring out my ticket. It won’t do to fumble around with such a guy behind. I could imagine him pushing me out of the way if I hesitated for a second.
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) has somehow taught me to expect the unthinkable and to never be shocked. It was the only place I know where men jab pregnant women with their elbows and where a child could be left to seat on the entrance steps even when the door of the bus was wide open.
Anything could happen here, so I held my ticket ready.
I entered grateful to get a space. I prefer sitting by the window so I can put my head out of the window and escape the usual putrid air of cheap perfume, stale sweat and body odour but that night I had to take what I got and it wasn’t a window seat. I decided that if the odour becomes unbearable, dipping my nose inside my dress would work.
It was late and that meant everybody wanted to be out of there even if they had to stand or sit on someone’s head. An old man walked towards the back of the bus, I saw him coming and my mind told me the proper thing to do was stand up and allow him to seat. I ignored the thought deciding I couldn’t wait so long for a bus only to have to stand skin to skin with smelling bodies.
So I watched him pass. He was old in an odd way. You could tell he shouldn’t be that old at least not chronologically but he reeked of inadequate care, poverty and bad hygiene. A whiff of an odour I couldn’t place bit my nostrils as he passed. I didn’t look back, my conscience didn’t let me.
When the bus became so full it couldn’t even take an ant we moved leaving a few not so fortunate commuters behind. The bus moved like a pregnant lady but no one seemed to mind. The road was free and at least it was better than waiting for a bus.
I placed my nose in my dress, desperate for the smell of my own body and also going through my twitter timeline to while away time when a strong voice started.
“To ba to sibi leni, a ma ju e sita ni.”
If you urinate here today, we will throw you out.
I looked back to see the owner of the voice. It was a tall guy sitting just by the door, burly looking, he wore shorts and a t-shirt.
He was talking to the old man that passed me earlier.
He didn’t keep quiet, he was muttering something
“O’n soro abi, ehn. Wa ro pe bi o se to si wa lara lojo yen ni”
You are talking? You will think you urinate here the same way you did it that day.
“Iwo try ko to si beyen”
I dare you to urinate on that floor.
I felt miffed, why would a young man talk this way to an old man. I wondered
“Ehn now”, a lady said as if responding to someone
“Ojo yen, shey lo gbe oko sita to to si wa lara. Ko funny rara” the lady added
That day, he just brought out his manhood and urinated all over us.
Baba oshi ni baba yi now. A ma ju sita latoju window ni to ba try e. The burly man said
He is an old fool; we will throw him out of the window if he dares to urinate here today
Majority of the bus occupants were laughing, I looked at the old man, he looked small and pitiable, sitting on the floor of the bus. I felt a barrage of emotions. My guilt was assuaged that it wasn’t such a bad thing that I had not given him my seat. Pity that such an old man should be so ridiculed, anger that people were talking down to such an elderly person and disgust that he could have actually done what they accused him of.
I forgot about him after a while and we continued the journey in peace. A couple in the seat in front of me attracted my attention. They were entwined and were just short of kissing each other. I tried imagining them in a black metro cab and decided they wouldn’t be more expressive. I could see they didn’t care if they had an audience or not. I smiled thinking about Love and how you could barely hide it. People watched them, I could imagine most felt they shouldn’t be that openly romantic but who cares what the world thinks when you are in love, I enjoyed watching them and tried to imagine it was my man and I.
By the time I looked back a couple of bus stops to mine, I saw the old man climbing down, he held his buttocks with one hand which barely concealed the fact that the back of his trousers was wet. I glanced at the space where the burly guy sat earlier and realised he was gone. The old man climbed down followed by two ladies who carefully side stepped the small puddle that now occupied where the old man had been sitting.
@toyinfab is on twitter and her personal blog where she churn out wonderful stories is http://www.toyinfabs.wordpress.com
Wealth 4 by Taiwo Marayesa will be out tomorrow Tuesday 30th July and another dose of Bus Tales on Thursday 1st of August. Watch out for continuation of ‘Face me,I slap U’ soon.