Gingerly, he approached the figure, wrapping his hand around the neckline to loosen the little knot that held the mini-gown in place. I had no idea what a gown like that is called, but I was certain it should be something not so expensive though seemingly fancy, judging from the way it fitted around the firm curves on the feminine shape. Even as it dropped through the slightly protruding waist down to the feet that put an end to the fair long legs, revealing the pesky pair of mounds on the trimmed porcelain skin, he never seemed to be distracted for a second.
I sat, squeezed to the window side of a creaking 18-seater bus finding its way in the traffic congestion, watching the stranger undress the mannequin. It was about 30 minutes to the 20th hour; the end of the day’s work for some and the beginning for others. I belonged to the former category, the road-side cloth merchant and his mannequins gallantly occupied the latter.
The bus dragged briefly towards the 11.82km bridge. I knew it was the beginning of another 2hours–characterized by rough à la distress driving, cusses and attendant spits, honks and bashes–even before the bus came to a halt, the persistent gridlock remaining the factor.
A bucket of many bottled drinks sped by, and I looked out the window to confirm or discard the sorcery I just saw. For a person of really brief height, I didn’t expect the hawker to be so nimble-toed even with the conglomeration of drinks he balanced on his head. Others of his ilk had gala, plantain chips of countless brands, cashew nuts and several other consumables clutched to their sides; all meandering through the congestion trying to sell their wares. I shook my head in pity as I watched one of the hawkers almost get squeezed between two buses while he rushed to get payment for what he just sold a passenger.
“There is a Junior and/or a wife at home, a sister or brother in school, or a mama in the village depending on them… and so they hustle with their every fiber.” An elderly who seemed to have been watching me all the while said. I knew she wasn’t any off from the truth.
A couple of hours, countless hisses and serious body aches later, the third gear of the bus finally became useful. Perhaps from the reprieve brought about by the draught into the moving bus, the occupants of the seat behind me began to discuss what awaited them at their destination, the crux of the discuss being their grievances with the wage they get at work, and how the foreign owners of the factory they work in maltreat them like a flock of quarantined pigs.
I got home a few minutes to 11pm with a smile on my face; PHCN decided to put a little something in our bulbs. I settled in quickly and refreshed to get some sleep, for the alarm would do its job by 4:20AM the following day irrespective of how I feel. I remembered a joke a colleague made about the episode introductions of a movie I was seeing (he thought it would be cool to have the prologue in pidgin) and I decided to indulge myself briefly.
The player came to live as my then recumbent self began the pidgin prologue:
“My name na Oliver Queen
After five years for ogbonge hell
Na so I waka con’ home with only one goal…”
PHCN didn’t allow me save my city. They took the light.
Ironically, I wasn’t pained. They take power more than they give it and we all know. It’s bad, but I’m somehow used to it already. As I rolled over to sleep I flashed to a headline I saw on CNN a few days earlier:
D.C hit by power outage.
I would guess many Americans were in panic throughout the blackout. In some climes, blackout mostly precedes bad things, say terrorism, a headless horseman with a big axe roaming the streets, or simply the beginning of the apocalypse.
The same blackout an average warm-tempered Yoruba/Ibo/Hausa man (trust me, you don’t want to read the hot-tempered man’s version; I don’t want to write it too) would roll his eyes over and say “awon dìndìnrìn”/”mcheew, iti boribo!”/”kai! Shege!” became breaking news in some other place.
And then I did a conscious recap of my day.
Ours is a country of stoic and hard working people; we strive and hurdle regardless of the barriers and hardship, ironically with a smile bearing countenance. But it doesn’t mean we don’t want things to be better.
Maybe I wouldn’t have spent so much time in traffic if there were functioning alternative means of transport or route. Maybe there won’t be a horde of hawkers on the road at the risk of being crushed if power is regular to the point of making some other business ventures profitable. Maybe the factory workers would have ceased being garri-and-groundnut-driven robots in the sight of their bosses–slave masters–if there were other opportunities for them. Lots and tons of several other maybes!
Maybe I wouldn’t have had reasons to write this.
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