INSIDE THE CITY
This particular day wasn’t in the calendar. The day she was born wasn’t among other days. It is the truth and you know it. Lol.
Her birthday came and left or should I said her birthday left her. Small mind. she didn’t even value what was birthday. Most times she will forget but the calendar must always remind her.
Every year, it was nothing to her but then suddenly, she had to mark one particular birthday six years ago. By marking it I don’t mean party o. She actually went to the calendar and circled the date. Lol.
True. That was the year she went to the city. Her elder sister had called her to move in with her once she was done with all her O levels exams including JAMB.
The City. A place where she ever wanted to be. She was very tender when she lived there before but because the private school her father chose for her was at the outskirt of her community, she partly became a village girl. But she finished within years. Abi won’t she finish secondary school again? No condition is permanent o. Kikikikikiki
She circled the date more and more remembering when she picked up her over-packed bags walking out of her home to join a motorcycle that will take her to the motor park.
She was so happy to have seen her 16th birthday in the city, a place where all the great women she had read in about stayed while moving the world.
It wasn’t easy to have left her simple rural life after all the overwhelming adolescence experiences.
Not quiet long, the motor cycle stopped her at the park.
There she stood with her bags waiting on a half filled bus to come along. She waited. Pretty, young, tender, ambitious 16 waiting on her bus to come. Her sister should have just come to pick her as planned but she called earlier and complained that she was busy with work and pleaded for her to try and travel alone. Within her was fear but beside her was her shadow telling her that she could do it. She could go alone if only she won’t sleep on the bus.
Sleeping on the bus? That was what actually happened. The cool breeze happened too. She woke up fast recalling the warning from her mind not to sleep. The journey wasn’t supposed to be far, at least that was what they said to her but sleeping away her direction wont help either so she shifted often and often nudging a heavy and large man sitting beside her.
The man looked over her head, focusing on the window beside her. Curiously wondering why his gaze was fixed there, she looked too. Woow!
The big River below the bridge demarcating the urban and rural lives. She widened her eyes more and began seeing more than the man could even see but the speed of the bus made everything looked like a picture race. She signed and cuddled her school bag.
The bus conductor resumed shouting ‘mile 3’ ‘mile 3’ that was how she knew she wasn’t at her appointed destination yet but was already in the city. Her eyes started attracting images, the beautiful, awkward, good, bad, ugly and ‘worwor’. Lol.
He gradually demanded the passengers pay their offerings only then did she discover that the large man paid 250 saying ‘mile 3’. She did same and kept an eye on the man. He appeared like the Moses leading her to her promised land and besides it protected her personality as a novice, preventing her from asking the conductor numerous questions about her directions.
She kept looking at both sides trying to capture everything at once and before they arrived at mile 3, she concluded that the city was full, scattered, dirty and careless. So many liters of white bags, satchets, containers everywhere, quickly, she looked away from the horrible gutters.
And no Trees.
No Quava tree to climb. Somehow bad.
Who was the government in charge? Oh. It’s the new governor, Rotimi Amaechi. ‘He had better done something about his dirty city’ she murmured.
As soon as the bus parked, so many motorcycles crowded the passengers making inquiries on the particular street they wanted to go. Some passengers went into the market, some walked away with their luggage and just like her others just stood there. She wouldn’t dare walking, her bags were heavy.
The large man quickly placed his heavy self on one bike and said ‘Azikiwe’.
Everything suddenly appeared so easy to her. She will just order one bike to take her down to her Big Sister.
She climbed the bike adjusting her skirt which became shorter. So shameful! She came down. The bike man hollered, “why you dey come down na?”
“Oga can’t I trek to Ojoto?
“With all this things u carry. Ojoto far o. Enter. Make I add you with person”
“How much is the fair Sir?”
“100 naira. Your bag dem go dey front”
She was left with just 100 naira and her five thousand naira allowance that she was protecting. she climbed again still, trying to drag her skirt enough to cover her thighs.
A man was about to climb behind her. ‘What?’ She came down again.
“This small girl you get wahala o. Why you come down again na?
“So this man will sit behind me. That’s not a good appearance. I’m not entering. Go!”
“You get too much wahala.” The okada man said and brought down her bags zooming off to find another passenger to add up with the man.
Just like hungry birds looking for ants to eat, another okada guy came into the scene.
“O girl. Wetin happen. You no dey go?”
“I’m going to number 67 Ojoto. Can you carry me alone?”
“Yes but na 150.” And she wanted to spend just 100naira. She rolled her eyes but still took the chance.
“O girl. Only you for one bike. You small o. We for add person”
She kept quiet, only having the thoughts of how she will generate the extra 50naira to pay.
It wasn’t even up to ten minutes, the guy stopped, “here na 67!”
“So quick?” She gently came down adjusting her bags to her side.
Time to pay.
She smiled and gave the conductor the 100 naira note.
“50 naira remain.”
“But it wasn’t far. It’s 100”
“Heeh! I tell you 150 no try me o.”
“I’m not trying you. The distance is short. You want to cheat me. It’s not even far. Take your money. Thank you”
“You think say na to speak English? Bring my money joor”
And just when everything was getting really ugly, someone appeared. It was her sister.
“Whats happening here?”
‘Yeah!’ Her heart leaped.
She ran so fast and embraced her leaving the okada guy amazed. For another 30 seconds they were still hugging and even began dscussing family. Okada zoomed.