Lagos Bus Conversation

By Anikulapo Macmillan

It was tedious. It was a coloured moment. Though, everything that day was an unusual phenomenon. When, I left where I had gone to submit my correspondence; I climbed a commercial bus that was going to my destination. As soon as I entered the bus, there was a taut from a passenger. I felt irritated. And there was phlegm in my mouth. But I don’t know who to dispose that; not until the driver drove to a nearby filling station to buy fuel. When we got to the fuel station, the fuel attendance was not on sit but the bus conductor beckoned the attendance, and she came with a crispy look, also wore a skimpy skirt.

In fact, she looked languorous as she was talking to the conductor. I jumped down from the bus, to squelch myself, and I wasn’t happy with myself. It was frustrating. After we had bought the fuel, the driver accelerated the bus, and we started our journey. It was clutter traffic along the expressway. It was a bumper to bumper. I was tired. The young lady who sat beside me was snoring. She was already asleep.

In the deadly traffic, I became glimmering with myself, when I saw children who ought to be in school hawking. I stared at them intensely. My eager was over hydrated. I even began to chastise my body, after which, I had seen the children. The conductor noticed my reaction, and he began to laugh ludicrously. I took a deep breath. Suddenly, when he saw that my countenance had changed, he waved his hand; but my soul wasn’t in the bus again. I was already lost because of what I had seen that children whom we call our future leaders were gallivanting from one destination to another.

As the bus moved slowly as if a snail was going for a marathon; I glimpsed at a young boy, with a tattered cloth across the rail track. He sat there drinking a bottle of Bigi Cola and counting his money. I nodded. Few minute later, after I had checked my phone to reply to WhatsApp message, I saw him fighting with one of his colleague. They both created havoc. They created scene to the extent; those Hausa men around the vicinity, chased them away. I thought I was the only watching the scenario; but, a woman inside our bus, who wore a rimmed glasses and a velvet gown, was also watching the scenario. She unconsciously said: ‘’why is this country like this?’’ Immediately she said that, I looked at her fiercely. Another passenger, who was reading his newspaper solemnly, replied her: ‘’this is not our country’’.

‘’ You mean this is not our country?’’ I asked the man in a relentless manner. And, the driver looked at me from the rear mirror, and he said: ‘’ this is our country. This is the kind of society we found ourselves. Our politicians are corrupt. They can’t help the populace.’’ When he finished talking; I kept mute. I remained silent for long till; we got to the next bus-stop where one of the passengers alighted. I was nervous. Indeed, I was terribly bad to myself, that I could not say anything to what they had said.

‘’ Bros, do you see the news this morning?’’ one of the passengers, who sat next to the driver asked me in a polite way. I was confused. My nerve began to feel somehow, that if truly ‘’Nigeria is like this and what are we doing to revive back from these atrocities?’’

‘’ I don’t know what happened’’ I replied back like as if I was a mediocre. A woman, who was breastfeeding her child, looked at me with a kind of euphoria, and said: ‘’our politicians are mad’’.

‘’ Yes they are mad’’ the bus conductor retorted to what the woman had said. I felt perplexed. That now Nigeria has become an entity of the cognomen. Those men who rule the affair of this nation do not sympathize with the citizen; while, the children can’t even go to school. The child, that woman was breastfeeding began to cry. The cry was worrisome. Even every passenger in the bus was disturbed by the child’s cry. The child’s mother began to sing lullaby; till the child slept off.

‘’ Please, don’t disturb my child’’ she said to us in a discreet way.
I looked at her like I should slap her face. With what she had said, I began to have feud for her. The lady who was snoring when they bought the fuel looked at me and laughed stoically. We kept mute.

‘’ This is the kind of problem we have in this country when our leader will tell us to keep quiet and we too will keep quiet. This is absurd. It is impertinent to human right. We all have a freedom to talk and to choose our representative’’ a man, who sat at the back seat of the bus, responded back to what the woman had said. He was busy reading a novel and drinking his 5-alive juice when we started the discussion earlier.

‘’ This woman should be a tyrant in her house’’ I said quietly; but I didn’t know that she heard me. Her ear was sharp. All of the sudden, she looked at me, and pointed her mid-finger at me. She looked at me with a frenzy reaction.
‘’ Don’t ever say this to a woman. A woman has the right to withhold any conversation if she knows that conversation is not profitable.’’ She wore native attire and her body kept us oodles and her nipple was smiling at us from her attire. I kept a glance at her for long like as if she was one of those girls whom we saw around Agege Pen-cinema brothel when there was a gridlock. As she spoke, millions of saliva escorted her talk to our body. I adjusted myself from her immediately.

‘’ Madam, please mind the way you talk because you have bathed us with your saliva. Moreover, what the woman has said is wrong. She has no audacity to tell us to keep quiet because her child wants to sleep. This is a commercial vehicle; where everybody has an opinion to any public discourse. To me this is fierce’’ a man who sat behind the driver said this, and we began to laugh.

‘’ Nigerian has spoilt to the extent that even we the literate is opted to social menace. Everybody dies in this country daily. This is ponderous. And this system has made this nation to be failing abyss gradually. We are in a precipice of collapsing. All our institutions are being deteriorated. ‘’ I said to buttress what the man had said.
When we got to the next bus-stop, the woman whose child was sleeping alighted with one man who didn’t say anything to what we had been saying. He was just busying listen to his phone radio. The man was aged with a gentle composure. As both of them alighted from the bus, the driver drove away swiftly. We continued with our conversation. I usurped the conservation with the broadcast message I saw on my WhatsApp. I shouted. The passengers looked at me with a surge. I felt delusory when I noticed they were staring at me

‘’ Bros, hope no problem?’’ one of the passengers asked me in a curious manner. I felt mesmerized. That question came to me unexpectedly.

‘’ I’m alright. But I saw a message that scared me; that the Senate President wants to be impeached by some politicians who have defected to other party. ‘’ I told the man

‘’ This is Nigeria. Anything is impossible. We have light today; and tomorrow there can be darkness. Surprisingly, this nation has given us another mentality. It has changed our periscope. We think like a pessimist. Anytime we wake up, it’s another news entirely— every day bombing and kidnapping. We are relevant to this querulous moment’’ the man who sat next to the driver spoke.

‘’ Sigh’’

The bus conductor shouted another bus-stop, but none of us alighted. When the bus slowed down, we saw onlookers at a scene looking at an accident that had happened. We saw two men, one woman and four children in a pool of blood. They were already dead. We heard when one of the onlookers said they had already called the emergency ambulance; but the ambulance had not arrived.
When I saw the causality, I was disillusioned. Unknowingly, tears came from my eyes. As I was cleaning my eyes with my handkerchief; a woman who sat adjacent me, received a sudden call, that her daughter had conceived a baby boy.

‘’ This life is funny. This life has no pity for human being. It is not prevalent to us; perhaps, it comes horrid sometime, and sometimes it appreciates us with condolence or with gratitude. However, it is seemingly a crazy life; when people die and at the same moment somebody conceives.’’ One of the passenger responded to the woman’s call.
Afterwards, the driver drove away from the scene, and we began to deliberate on the incident. I personally became furious and curious concerning the bizarre. Also, the bus conductor told us that last night a truck killed seven people along Oshodi expressway. As he said that, I began to wonder what kind of society we were. I was fuzzy. My body temperature began to increase.

‘’ I heard about the accident too’’ one of the passenger also ascertained to what the bus conductor had said. My phone was beeping; and I checked the message alert. What I saw was that two hundred people were massacred in Kaduna state

‘’ THIS IS SERIOUS!’’ I said to myself. ‘’ What kind of nation do we live?’’ I asked myself while soliloquizing.
Immediately, the driver drove fast, and we all shouted concerning his speedometer. And one woman who tied a scarf, and wore a blouse and a skirt said: ‘’ Holy Ghost fire’’ But, a man who sat quietly by her side, looked at her contemptuously and said: ‘’ don’t say that again. Not everybody in this bus is a Christian’’

Meanwhile, this led to an argument between both of them. I was watching their lips like I was imaging the noodles that Aboki at Allen Junction sells. Both of them abused themselves.

‘’ You are mad! You are stupid! You this prostitute’’ the man said.
The woman was just nodding gravely. She didn’t say anything until the driver spoke confident into her. ‘’ I can’t blame you, you this terrorist’’ she said bravely. I laughed. Even the lady who sat beside me laughed as well. While the man in the front seat was eating Gala sausage and table water, and the bus conductor was chanting for more passengers.

‘’ You are both talking about religion’’ the driver said. He was driving and still sipping his liquor. And for me, I was chatting with my friend on WhatsApp. He looked at me from the rear mirror and he said: ‘’ bros, are you not talking again?’’
I did like as if I didn’t hear him. The lady called me to his notice. I ignored. But the woman was still shouting profusely at the man. ‘’ you this fanatic’’ she said
Nobody answered them. But they kept shouting like as if they were our politicians who shout everyday at the preliminary in the National Assembly. Although, the man who was reading the novel looked at them firmly and he grinned— also, I giggled.

‘’ Religion is a bastard in Africa’’ he said
We all looked at him steadfastly. And I asked him what made him say that. He kept mute and focused on his reading. The bus conductor looked at him with gaiety and said: ‘’ don’t mind this man he is drunk’’

‘’ like your driver abi?’’ one of the woman replied
‘’ You don’t have to insult me’’ the driver said with a hoarse

‘’ If truly, religion is a bastard, what is the way out?’’ I said
The man looked at me and he gave a cheerful smile. And I also gave a smirk to him and he continued to read his novel.

‘’ Religion is neither a blab nor a fable but it is just a word that the Greek brought to us so as to bring confusion to the philosophy of God. The principle of faith is to love humanity’’ I said.

Published by Adekunle Writes

Adekunle is the author of a poetry collection, 'Arise Nigeria'. A young writer, Adekunle is a correspondent at Church Times Newspaper and Contributing Editor for Interviews at OPEN: Journal of Arts and Letters. He's the recipient of Daily Trust Newspaper's Poet of the week, January 2019. Follow me on Instagram on Adewunmi

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