My Journey to Ibadan

by - April 26, 2017

Chronicles of Paulinus

Boarding a bus from Lagos to Ibadan can be very exasperating but I feared the actual journey itself. I had boarded a bus to Ibadan after a lengthy hunt. We set out for our supposedly one and half hour journey. I was sandwiched in between two hefty women whose grotesque buttocks blazed with the heat of a furnace. The one by my right side was fair but her face was sunburnt. Her face cracked into a million wrinkles when she tried to squint her eyes into slits to avoid the rays of the sun that spilt through the window. She looked like a typical market woman; her wrapper, which smelt of roasted fish, hung around her oversized breast. Her red sleeveless blouse was tugged into the wrapper. I admired her relaxed composure even when she was grinding me to bits. It was like sitting in between two burning ovens.

The flaccid one by my left was irritating. Regardless of the stench that was oozing out from her body, she was so unkind to wing her right arm across my shoulder to relax it on the edge where my back rested. The salty smell of her armpit stood like an invisible wall of stench.  I crinkled my face. She kept on throwing grains of groundnuts into her mouth that drew saliva as it opened.

My two arms were stiff since my shoulders were smothered by their rotund shoulders. I could hardly feel any sensation on my legs that were gummed together by the pressure of their laps. I beckoned on sleep to enslave me but such luxury was untenable in such condition. She has been chewing a gum she bought in the Motor Park. Her jaw joggled as she chewed it with such pleasure that transmitted into humming. She was staring into space. I couldn’t make sense of the humming but I felt enraged that my villainous neighbour showed no remorse for her action, how could she not know? A thread of worry coarse through my mind.

After a brief moment of irritating silence, my eyes darted through the bus. I had been so much submerged in my agony that I lost every contact with the world around me. It was then my gaze dropped to a fleet of mosquitoes joyously making their ways to succulent skins. I imagined their proboscis erect and their stomach dried up in hunger. The air was stale and I could perceive a random smell of food stocks like stock fish, roasted fish, congealed red oil and oil bean (ukpaka).

I could feel my strength as it melted away from me. I began to sense a piercing sensation in my buttocks like I was being twitched. The seat in the bus was just a hard iron and I had no much flesh down there to improvise. My bones were stiffening in revolt. I could hardly bear it. There was no part of me that gave me succour; every part was blistered with pains. Pain etched itself in me. My eyelids drooped lower in protest. The only thing that kept my strength dangling on a tiny string was the costly fair I couldn’t forfeit. I must see the end of this journey.

I was unable to twirl back but I guess we were more than eighteen in the bus that was meant for thirteen seaters. The conductor stacked us like okirika clothes. Some passengers clutched their luggage and others cocked their head through the windows to gain fresh air. At certain locations, the driver would jolt to a stop swaying everyone to and fro which gave me an air to adjust my sweltering buttocks. Troops of hawkers would parade around the bus. Some scream the name of their products while others would thrust theirs at our faces. Many of them were barefooted, wiggling around in search of a prospective buyer with their feet pounding the darkened mud. Some would be in an endless pursuit of slow pacing vehicles. I tried to keep my eyes glued to the ground and avoid their hovering eyes. But I relished the tactic they employed in displaying their product. Even with my eyes on the ground, I still found my eyes jerking up to have a glimpse of such ‘show’. I saw two of the female hawkers mouthing to one another and glancing at a spot on the bus; I immediately felt a chagrin to be seen in such haggard looking vehicle. Anyway, it was a sight I enjoyed since it waned down some pains that were already decomposing my strength. Once the jam cleared, the driver would jolt abruptly leaving the hawkers galloping after the bus with their hands extended ahead of them to collect either their goods or money. My pains were lost in the cause of this scenario.

“Challenge…Challenge dey here?” the driver yelled over the loud Yoruba music playing in his old superannuated radio set. He spun his neck to know if someone is dropping. I saw that his once gleaming face has been darkened by the hot dark smoke that steamed from the engine of the car. “Thank God we have arrived”, I eased a sigh.

Ring road was the final bus stop and so since there was no indicated by anyone to dropping off at Challenge bus stop, the driver sped off immediately towards Ring road. It didn’t exhaust ten minutes before we go to Ring road. He steered into a motor Park by the side of the road. “Oya make una come down abeg na here be last bus stop”, the driver mouthed as he struggled to open his rusty door. Some passengers seemed not to be pleased with the located he dropped us. The woman by my right shouted, “Baba na so you dey drive your own, how come here take be bus stop no be for the other Park we dey stop?”

The driver was still struggling with his door and he gave no ear to their complaint. By then, I had already adjusted and sat at the edge of the seat with my hand cupping my face. No one could open the door so we had to wait for the driver to do the job. “Oga abeg do fast make we commot for here jare”, the man by the door side shrieked. It was then I suspected that I wasn’t actually the only martyr in this journey. After much yanking, the door opened with a screech. We hurled out with heads bent to avoid striking our heads on the careworn roof.

As I hopped down, my legs felt uneasy and I wobbled while I walked. I kicked the air with my two legs simultaneous, my hands followed with a blow to the space. I spun my body clock and anti-clockwise to unshackle the stiff of my bones. I heard a thousand cracks. “Let me see the demon that can cause me to enter this kind of bus again”. I threw my bag on my back and darted out.    

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