That day was bad like every day in Lagos, the heat was like hellfire, Nobody can pray to suffer like most of the Passengers did. A White Minibus taking its turn, was parked in the front of a long queue of other buses, the passengers seemed accustomed to the heat and sweat. Obviously the youngest person in that bus would have lived in Lagos for at least a decade of their lives, so the Sun plus the noise and rambling Agberos played on like a familiar Orchestra. There was a certain pattern to it, the departing buses would revv their engines, the returning ones would screech to a halt, the garage boys would run around pulling passengers for a quick job of carrying their bags.
There were another class of Agbero and of interest to this story is the one who was calling a bus from Ojotta Eko to Ibadan, he had the perfect frog voice and recklessly made his call for passengers sometimes bending his voice to almost make a tune. A woman struts along hastily, stumbling blindly with her bag and a man in her wake. She is the Owner of a major supermarket in Central Ikeja but somehow on this day, she was in tears and the man behind her was her husband who had seized her car keys and told her off to the park.
Bako sights the two coming along and rushes over asking questions “Madame Ki lo Sele, what Iyaff happen?” his concerns show in his voice as he glances from woman to man and back to the crying woman.
“Will you collect the bag my friend and stop asking silly questions”, Dayo yells at Bako and does not wait to see if he got his message across. Dayo turns to Tola who is now standing close to the bus window, he taps her shoulder and leans in to glare at her. “If you like, come back late tomorrow and tell me the goods you are buying are too much to carry in a day!” he barks out. Suddenly a resounding slap catches Dayo on the back of the neck, he swiftly turns to glare at his assailant. “Abi aye n shey e ni? Have you collect family curse? How you shatt for woman like that?”. Dayo’s puffing chest and clenched fist makes to move and another heavier slap swipes his lower lip into his nose and face (that stinging feeling ehnnn).
” Please bros, leave am na my husband”, the other agberos come around and Dayo is bundled out of the park. That is the story of how Tola started spending weekends at Bako’s boy’s quarter apartment in Ketu, she would help him cook, clean him up and teach him some elementary lessons in English. Her husband who used to have her attention and fear, realised she was no longer interested in his affairs. Tola used to be the woman begging to be touched by her husband, she would sometimes just huddle up close to his turned back to feel his skin and savour the scent she knew when they first met.
Tola built her business from scratch and along the line Dayo had swept her off her feet, promising the heavens and the sky. He turned out to be her greatest demon. She worship the ground he trod and hardly could make a move without his approval. She worked, while Dayo
clubbed and partied. The slap that turned tables came from Bako, after that encounter at the park he became Tola’s guardian angel. His coarseness and crass nature ended at the park, he was the perfect gentleman at home and they would spend several hours talking in half pidgin english and most other times in Yoruba.
6 months and a year later, Tola had built a 3 bedroom where she spends the weekends with Bako. Here she was after 10 years of hell, she had found love in the most unlikely places. Should she just replace Dayo totally? Leave their matrimonial home for him? Or should she hold on to Bako till he would move on and she would return to her crazy husband who had started cuddling her leg at night and washing his own panties?
1. Agbero – is the yoruba word for bus conductors.
2. Lagos is the industrial hub of Nigeria.
3. This story was inspired by Isaac Newton’s “Voice of Lagos”- episode in ” Living in Gidi”.