“How much does it cost to get to Lago?”, i said curtly. #1,000, the driver replied. I paid the fare amidst mixed feelings. I was neither excited or sad about the trip. All thanks to dad’s tales about Lagos.
‘You have to be smart out there’
‘Shine your eyes well in Lagos’
‘It’s a dangerous place’
Dad’s words echoes….
Mum had her fair share of the dreaded Lagos. She once recounted her trip there. She hid her money in her underwear cause everyone was suspected to be robbers. All these dampen my spirit about the city- the bubbling place, the hustle and bustle hub of Naija. How will i survive in such an area? Does that mean there are no sane and good people roaming the streets of Lagos?
Prior to my travelling, i was considering going to Lagos or Abuja for the Easter break which was going to last for three days. Dad suggested i come home or stay back in school. I pondered over it. Going home was going to be a stressful one- spend a day enroute and the break was just for three days, i’ll have to come back on the fourth day. There was no point- i erased it. Going to Abuja was a no-no, staying back in school was the biggest NO. I really need a break from all the academic activities- biochemistry was a living hell. Loads of assignments, assignments and ASSIGNMENTS. I sure need a break from all this. Then a thought struck me, Bola had been insisting i come to visit. This was my chance. A smile broke out on my face. That solves it. Lagos, here i come.
I jolted back to reality when the driver killed the ignition to get gas for the car.
“Where are we? I tried to search for a signpost or advert post.
‘Shagamu’, the guy sitting next to me responded.
How long is it gonna take to get to Lagos? I sighed.
In an hour or two, depending on the situation, he enthused.
Are you new to Lagos? He added.
Yes… What kind of situation? A scowl on my face.
Traffic oooh… He smiled.
The much talked about traffic which can go on for hours. Traffic was a regular for Lagosians.
‘”Please God, let it be traffic free”, I prayed silently.
I’m actually going to Bariga, where will i stop?
‘Alight at Palmgrove. Take the overhead bridge to the other side. You can either board a bus or bike there. My neighbour remarked. I appreciated his kind gestures.
A lady shouted at the back. Obanikoro wa oo… She kept on screaming at the top of her lungs. Obanikoro wa oooo, Obanikoro wa ooo. I had to ask my neighbour, ‘why is she screaming?’ The driver is probably not deaf and besides the conductor is within earshot. He’ll inform him(driver). “Welcome to Lagos”, my neighbour laughed. This is how it’s done. If she doesn’t do that, the driver will take her past her alightment point. He added, ‘ you need not shout, just keep on reminding them. Don’t worry, i’m stopping same place as you. I’ll do the mention.
Gala! Gala!! Gala!!! Buy your gala here!!! The voice of the gala seller echoing in my ears. Gosh!!! these lagosians are noisy. Everywhere, noise- from the bus to the streets, seems noise is their livewire here. I trudge my way through the sea of people to the other side of the road. A guy bumped into me. Aaah… Sorry, sorry, he begged.
Why are these people always in a hurry? I sighed. Flashback to stories heard about people bumping into others and their belongings and possessions go AWOL. I rummaged through my bag.
Thank God, my hand on my chest. The money in my purse was intact, my debit cards in sight. Thanks for this, my eyes gazing into the sky.
What next? Get a bus going to Popoola street. I walked down the bus stop. Saw a mob right there. In the midst of them were two persons smeared with blood, fighting tooth and nail.
“God, can i just get home, already? I’m tired of all these dramas. My hands up in the air. The people looked on, cheering them. Few persons were taking the video footage of the fight.
“Are these people for real?” I mused. I better get going. I cannot be involved in this. Many tales of such fight shows and it’s either a robber dispossessing people of their belongings or the policemen apprehending everyone. I finally got myself out of the mob amidst struggling with balls of sweat on my temple. Oooh… i’m out.
I flagged down a bus going to my route. Popoola, i gasped. ‘E wole (come in), the driver blurted out. ‘ Se change wa (is there change), i nodded in affirmation. What if there’s no change? This thought ran through my mind. It’s best i’m certain before i enter one chance cause these lagos drivers are a thin line between mad and madness. Did i say lagos drivers? There are lots of mad people on the streets of lagos. Most are fully clothed- corporately dressed sef. I cannot come and start exchanging words. I’ve got no strength for such. The little strength i’ve got will get me home in one piece.
In the bus, a squabble broke out at the back.
‘ E joor, e ba mi sun (please move a bit), a squarefaced man pleaded. The fat lady blurted out. Move to where? The statement ignited a fight. They kept on hurling insults at each other. After a while, the bus was still.
‘ E san owo lati eyin'( please pay from the back), the driver called out. We all gathered the fare and gave to him. Counting the money amidst curses… Awon owo ti o da to ko fun yan, bi won se ri na ni owo won se ri (see the dirty money they’re giving me, they look like their money).
100, 200, 300…. Remaining one person. Nobody budge. Oku iyan kan!!! he said in yoruba (one person left) No response. All of a sudden, the bus came to a halt. The fat lady asked, ‘ driver, kilo sele? (what happened)
Tell them make dem pay, he replied.
What is ałl this? Can it get any better? I scoffed.
” I can see you people are not in a haste to get to your destination, the driver smirked. Nobody flinched. Some minutes went by, a man who’s been quiet through out the journey decided to pay the dragged transport fare. I heaved a sigh of relief amidst mumbles and grumbling. I would have paid but i was cash-strapped. I had on me just my t-fare to popoola. I’ve spent all i had on bus fare and other goodies. Goodies like fruits and drinks. All thanks to mum’s chants about visiting with presents. Some persons alighted at Johnson street. Just some minutes and i’m at my stop. Popoola, the driver yelled. O wa… I smiled. At last!!! I’m home.
Few steps, few minutes, few seconds and i’m right at the doorpost.
Come in, a voice inside responded to the knock at the door.
Aaah, Simi!!! Bola jumped at me with all glee and enthusiasm.
How was your trip? She added.
Was fine….with a resigned look
Tell me about it!!! Hope you didn’t miss your way? What do you have to say about Lagos? She enthused.
Wo, later!!! I shrugged off the questions.
After much well wishes, i settled in finally. Yipee….I’m finally in Lagos. I narrated my ordeal to my cousin.
Who would have thought that my first day in Lagos was just an eye opener, a tip of the iceberg, more of a welcoming party. I’ve not seen it all, not even a quarter of what Lagos has to offer.