Lagos Danfo Valentine - Simply SAMAD

Simply SAMAD

A blog dedicated to short stories from Nigeria and exciting tales all over the world


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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Lagos Danfo Valentine

On his way to spend time with his girlfriend on Valentines Day, a young man boards a bus (Danfo) that turns into a calamity...

The year was 2017 and Valentine's Day incidentally fell on a working day of the week.

"Not a big deal..." I said to myself and consoled myself with the fact that all the necessary things were solidly in place - A sweetheart who looked like my kind of model; just the perfect height for me; trim in the right places and provocatively curvy in all the places I was sensually crazy about; an oval face that played host to lips I could have for breakfast, lunch and dinner and not complain and eyes that never failed to light me up.

Everything looked sweet and tight but this day was not about my Valentine's Day.

Oh no! It was one that I witnessed on my way home from work.

This was not a movie as there were no actors, directors, producers or technical crew but there was a stage and this stage was Maryland; a major district on the Lagos mainland; situated in Ikeja to be precise.

I wasn't driving so I stood at the bus stop like every other commuter in view. The only visible difference was that I was more mentally and physically ready to board the next available commercial bus that had Opebi-Allen as its destination. My eyes were not darting here and there like a pickpocket with a familiar hunch that the day was a bad one but my sight stayed trained on the direction from which the bus would emerge.

I was very vigilant and had my power of observation tuned to a very high frequency. I stood as if I had springs right beneath my heels. It was the way I moved whenever I had to engage in an activity that called for moving fast on my feet and so I waited; stood on the look-out for the next vehicle.

The clock ticking away; 75 percent of those around me as impatient as a starving man served a hot plate of ‘dodo’ and then the bus came into view though it was at quite a distance, I did what I usually did whenever I found myself in such a situation. I focused on the conductor who was hanging by the door of the commercial bus; with a large portion of his body hanging outside the vehicle as he deftly positioned himself by the door.

I took one more in-depth look at the conductor and read his lips. I couldn't hear him but I could see him and that was all I needed. In a space of three seconds, I got what I needed; he was going my way - Opebi Allen axis of Lagos.

When I stepped away from the spot where the rest of the commuters occupied, some of them cast quick glances at me but looked away as quickly as they had looked in my direction. I was not acting sensibly in the estimation of some of them but ironically, by the time the bus ground to a halt at the bus stop, I was already sitting comfortably inside the yellow and black 'Danfo.'

I watched the commuters as they almost climbed over one another; all in a desperate attempt to secure a seat in the bus.

"Madam! Please behave yourself…" I heard a young man say.

"Abeg comot for road if you no wan enter," the woman fired back.

Not done with the altercation, the young man sweating like a skipping boxer replied:

"It's not your fault. I don't blame you at all. I don't blame you!"

What I found even more ridiculous was that at the end of the rush for space in the bus, the vehicle was not even half filled. By implication, even if they had queued to get into the bus, there would apparently have been enough space for everyone.

My relief at eventually getting a bus to convey me to Allen was short-lived when the driver slowly craned his neck towards us from the front seat and said:

"Passengers, abeg make una no vex o. I'm not going to Allen anymore. Na Ikeja I wan load...”

I looked straight into his eyes and he wasn't even smiling. Apparently, this was not a joke.

At first, the commuters began to grumble then, they began to curse under their breath with lines of frustration and anger drawn all over their faces. They were clearly upset and it wasn't too hard to see why.

As expected, they complained bitterly; accused the driver of being responsible for half of the nation's problems and never ceased lamenting; even when they could see that the driver's mind was made up.

The driver on his own part never ceased apologising to the passengers. He tried his best to make them understand that it wouldn't be wise for him to load a half-filled bus when he could get a fully loaded one by altering his route from Opebi-Allen to Ikeja.

At that point, I cast my eyes upon the rest of the commuters still stranded at the bus stop and realised that the driver was right. I would have done the same in his shoes because, in truth, those still standing at the bus stop could conveniently fill three or four commercial buses.

Reluctantly, we began to disembark. First, it was the man who had the dramatic face-off with the fat lady; then, the fair-skinned girl with the green T-shirt and short black skirt. The man with the white shirt and blue tie followed. It was time for me to join them and two others on the bus also dragged themselves out of the vehicle.

Just as the lady in the cream-coloured dress stepped out, the driver's voice must have sounded like an award-winning track to those heading towards Ikeja.

"Ikeja! Ikeja! Ikeja...," he repeated in his husky voice and before you could say Jupiter, the commuters heading towards Ikeja swarmed the bus like a gang of demented men rushing to penetrate an unconscious woman laying legs spread out wide without clothes.

This was precisely the way they would have rushed in but there was a problem and it was in a human form. I noticed that while those of us who were Allen bound had hopped off the bus, a certain young man had screamed when the driven announced his decision to change his route.

"If you like, change your route to Lokoja or Abia, I'm not stepping out of this bus."

Not too many of us had paid him much attention when he expressed his displeasure but when he remained in the bus even after we all had alighted, I had a feeling that something bad was going to happen but then I said to myself:

"The worst that could possibly happen is that he gets a refund from the driver."

I cast my mind away from the displeased passenger and the route-changing driver and concentrated on getting another bus to convey me to Allen but 5 minutes later, my attention was drawn back into the drama that was unfolding right before my eyes.

The disgruntled passenger refused to give in to the driver's request to alight from the bus after his route had changed. He remained adamant about being driven to his destination, which in this case happened to be Allen. After 10 minutes, some of the fresh passengers who had their minds on Ikeja began to exit the bus. Others continued to appeal to the young man who wanted to be driven to Allen at all cost.

At a point, every single person in the bus sounded like members of a choir as they repeatedly chorusing the same line.

"Oga, abeg now...."

"Bros, we take God beg you. Come down make the driver dey carry us go..."

The dude just sat there and refused to budge...

#We'll share the concluding Episode on Sunday, Feb 18, 2018

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