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LAGOS DIARIES XXX

The proliferation of tatafo and amebo aboundeth in life, long past the school study halls. – The Songs Of Humanity, Chapter 5 Verse 16b.

I was studying this rare, never-before-seen chapter that King James and his fellow scribes discarded from the Bible and stumbled into that line. And, by God, it’s true.

Here’s what happened.

So, I’d just closed from work, just another day of restrained tempers, false smiles, and veiled remarks. I simply wanted to get home, turn on another episode of Orange Is The New Black, and lose myself in the shenanigans of the women’s prison.

I got to the bus stop. The night was still young. And the traffic was light, very light, and nearly empty of public transport; which wasn’t surprising. Ever since the ogas at the top of airport affairs decided to impose a change of the public transport running through the airport thoroughfares from the cream-coloured weathered taxis and buses to the blue, posh-looking cabs, buses and station wagons, the availability of transport had whittled drastically. Apparently, not all the commercial drivers could afford whatever arrangement was put in place for the purchase of the new vehicles. And this change was enforced around the period of the fuel scarcity; so you can imagine the vengeance with which the drivers visited their wrath on the passengers. You’d get up to go to work, and be calculating the transport fare that is about thrice what you used to spend before.

But I digress.

So, I was at the bus stop, nodding my head to Jason Derulo crooning to Jennifer Lopez to bring her sexy body over to him in their new duet Try Me, when a wagon car finally came along. There was a mad dash of people to the vehicle, a tide of bodies that swept me quite smoothly into the car, because the driver pulled up in front of me. Short tempers threatened to snap as terse grunts over who was stepping on whose shoe and who should stop pushing too hard were exchanged between the fraught passengers.

Seconds later, we were settled in the car. The door was shoved shut. The driver engaged the gear, and we were off. The atmosphere in the car was still kind of surly, evidenced in the stony silence that greeted the driver when he hollered, “Abeg make una bring una money!”

No one moved. No one spoke. Faces remained set. Everyone looked cranky from a collective long day.

Owo da!” the driver called out again. “Abeg, your money!” He followed the words with an announcement of the different fares for the major stops he’d be making.

My stop was the first, and the fare was N50. The second and final stop was N100.

Owo da now!” This time, his voice had become plaintive.

I moved for my wallet. In the process, I nudged the man next to me out of his inertia, and he too began to root around for his money. Our movements set off a ripple effect in the car, and soon, bags were being zipped open and hands were fishing out naira notes.

“Driver, na 500 naira I get o!” someone shouted in that tone that dared the driver to contest the provision of her change.

“Driver, how much you say be NAHCO sef!” another someone yelled as though he hadn’t heard the driver say it the first time.

It was obvious some tempers were still smouldering, and the driver wisely made no responses. Hands moved about in the air as monies were passed back and forth. I observed that the two men who sat on my right side, one next to the other, handed over fifty naira notes. This meant that they were dropping at my stop as well.

The stock exchange ended within a few short moments; the driver was sufficiently paid, and change was handed back to those who required it. We relapsed into silence again. My stop loomed. The driver began to slow down, and then he pulled a gear and idled to a stop. The door was shoved open, and passengers began to alight.

The uneventful end to the day, right?

Wrong.

Now, one of the two men on my side, the one closest to the door, stepped out of the car. He was stringy, disheveled-looking, with a shirt whose hem was untucked haphazardly around a loosely-belted waist. Here was a man whose crappy day was clearly stamped on him.

The one directly next to me, instead of following after him, moved his legs to one side, a clear indication for me to move past him. This one’s build had a slight burliness, with pecs that swelled gently through the snug T-shirt he was wearing.

I was fleetingly surprised that he wasn’t getting down, that he was instead making way for me. Apparently, this wasn’t his stop, which meant he had short-changed the driver by fifty naira. I chuckled inwardly at this realization and continued out of the car, hopping down to stand before the first man. Now, Mr. Stringy was staring maliciously back into the car. I didn’t need to follow his gaze to know who his reproof was directed at. He’d clearly also figured out the fast one Mr. Burly had pulled.

“Excuse me, please…” I began, edging my body around him.

Then he burst out. “Driver, this man paid you only N50!” His hand had shot out and was pointing condemnation at Mr. Burly, the criminal that he was. “He paid you only N50 – and he’s not stopping here! Isn’t he supposed to pay you N100?!”

The next three seconds that elapsed were freighted with that awkward lull that characterizes the moment when someone has done something so unexpected, that no one quite knows how to react. Like those three final seconds in a Hollywood movie, whose silence is loud, before the eruption of the bomb.

Those three seconds passed, and this bomb erupted.

With an angry snarl that started from somewhere in the back of his throat, Mr. Burly leaped forward on his seat, his hand already sweeping forward. From the corner of my eye, I could see the trajectory the missile was taking, and I ducked in time for it to swish over me and strike the other man across his face.

“Yeeeiiii!” Mr. Stringy shrieked, his hands going up to his face.

Mr. Burly followed up the slap with another one, his palm striking Mr. Stringy again with the kind of force that had him reeling backward.

The other passengers erupted into a chorus of protests.

“Ah, oga, which one you dey!”

“Leave am now! Na bad thing him do?!”

“Trouble dey sleep, amebo go wake am!”

“No fight o! Abeg, make una no fight!”

I chuckled at that. It wasn’t even a fight. A fight would require two combatants standing a chance against each other. This one was a smackdown, certainly not the kind you get in elevators with the Knowles and the Carters. The driver and a couple of other passengers quickly swarmed around them, attempting to break them apart.

And me, what did I do? I’d seen enough. I remembered Orange Is The New Black, shouldered my bag and crossed the road. Wetin consine me? If they want to kill themselves over fifty naira, darris between them and Angel Michael.

I am @Walt_Shakes on Twitter


About shakespeareanwalter

Walt Shakes(@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter.

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20 comments

  1. smh. This just made me mad. Mr Burly, abi wareva his name is, is an animal

  2. *shifting away from Tobby*

  3. Na wa oh! Mr. Stringy obviously wasn’t as tired by his day as he looked. Lol!

  4. Smh…you are not even your brothers keeper…

    • Wole, exactly what I was going to say. lol. Chai, Waluter! So Lagos has made you all dead inside. your concern is Orange Is The New Black, eh?

  5. Absolutely lovely…I chuckled at the end.

  6. Lol,Lagos attack is back. Mr strongly get time sef

  7. Amebo na dangerous work o! Lolzzzz

  8. I understand Mr. Stringy’s annoyance but he would have considered his opponent before voicing out.

  9. TheLadyWithTheAfroLocs

    make una leave Walter biko!! how e take consign am na??? abeg dress…
    thanks for making me chuckle this wet afternoon…

  10. You should have been a peace maker na. shebi bible blessed the peacemakers.

  11. Lol. I chuckled at the end. Mr’ Burly’s act reminds of Fela’s song, Trouble sleep yanga go wake am. Serves Mr Stringy right !!

  12. Innocence Silas

    Lol @ My Burley. It seems the dude reserved some energy for some showdown later in the day.

    Walter, as for you, that “brother’s keeper” palaver no reash you be that!

  13. U were supposed to b a good samaritan, but d love of OITNB had u heart. Anyways, I see u got good Bruce Lee skills wen u ducked to escape Burly’s swish.

  14. if that slap had landed on your cheek it for cosine you

  15. Na wa o. Walter, you no even try separate fight

    • shakespeareanwalter

      LOL. Dozie, I said lemme go and drop my bag first nah. Then I will come back prepared to separate the fight. 🙂

  16. LOL. There is nothing wrong helping others and doing one’s civic responsibilities, it’s just safe to be ready for one or two slaps that may follow. Let’s call that Samaritanian Hazard, the very long distant nephew of Occupational Hazard.

    So a brother left to see Orange is The New Black, when another “served” brother may have to see in black and white for the rest of his stringy life? A very good idea. 🙂

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