Another Afternoon

This is the first draft of a story that, almost a year and a few reincarnations later, I still have not figured out. It keeps refusing to work. Maybe someay soon I’ll share the second draft.

“Look at you. Look at yourself. Just look at you this old man,” the conductor said.
“Next time you call bus-stop. You call bus-stop and wait to hear your passengers. You listen. You don’t talk as if words and not air are what you live on, ehn. You wait and you listen.”
“You are a stupid man,” the conductor said. “I am just giving you respect because of your old age, you are a stupid man. In fact, I should have beaten you. If you were somebody else I would have dragged you.” Like a violent wave the muscles in his arm rippled as he threw a balled fist into the air.
“Ehhen na. Come and drag me. Listen to advice, you hear, listen to advice. Stupid boy. See how far we have to walk now because that your mouth won’t close. If you don’t know your job is it not better to kill yourself? Your mates are doing big-big things with their lives you are here doing ordinary conductor. And the conductor even, you cannot do. What can you do?
“You have no shame. This man, you have no shame. My mates? Your own mates are at home with their grandchildren, you are here fighting conductor. You have no shame. I’m telling you if it were somebody else I would have dragged the person. Foolish man. I don’t have your time. I don’t have your time.” He ran as he talked. He jumped forward to cling to the beaten yellow bus hobbling away. Continue reading “Another Afternoon”


My House Hunt Wahala

Getting the apartment wasn’t a problem. Two hours after meeting the agent at his barbershop at Olorunshogo junction, three mini-flats later, I had gotten one I liked. I paid fast, money wasn’t the problem. I didn’t know what I was getting into.
I moved in the following weekend. I had my bed, my sofas, table, everything behind a truck. I sat in the passenger seat with my box of clothes in front of me, the driver by my side. We arrived at the house and I alighted to throw the gate open. We drove in, no problem. My apartment was at the back and the driver had to drive back out then reverse in so we could get my things out easy.
First problem was my new apartment was locked. Odd. I tried to push and pull, perhaps door had jammed, but someone opened from the inside. Inside the empty apartment whose rent I paid the just four days earlier was furniture and fan and television and all that stuff. My God. I was confused. Very. “My apartment,” I said.
“Which one?” the short guy who opened the door said. This guy was practically a dwarf. I wanted to knock him and watch him burrow into the floor.
“My apartment,” I said. “What happened? I just paid for this. This week. Tuesday. I don’t understand.” I really didn’t.
We found ourselves in front of the landlord’s two bedroom apartment at the front of the house. He was a young guy about my age, probably inherited the house, first time I met him he was in a polo shirt and jeans, this time in a singlet and blue boxers. He had a cigarette between his fingers. God I wanted to slap him. “When you didn’t come early, I thought you were not coming again, so I gave it somebody else,” he said. “He paid and he moved in.”
“But my money,” I said, “give me my money.”
“Which money,” he said before entering his house and shutting the door.
I didn’t even worry. Me? First I called my agent, goat said, “What is my own?” Jesus. In this economy. Then I remembered I had a police friend. Small thing. I just told the truck driver to chill a bit. See, when policeman came, barked, “Where the boy, where the boy,” he opened the door sharp sharp. Who no dey fear police?
He was first doing shakara. Policeman vexed, said he did not want explanation. “Let’s just go to station,” he said. “We’ll settle it there.”
Two slaps. That’s what they welcomed him with at the station. Right there at the counter. Me sef, I pitied him. They emptied his pockets and what came out? Forty naira, bunch of keys, and groundnut shells.
After he made phonecalls and got me my money, a policeman at the counter suggested I used next time I was searching for a property, that he got his using them. Man, lesson learnt!


Obioma is wiping his sweat-drenched face with a white-turned-brown handkerchief. He is walking the length of Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, and, as he shoves the handkerchief into the back pocket of his trousers, he is looking to the faces of young people obviously his age grade, driving expensive SUVs, while he mutters “God’s time is the best. God’s time is the best,” his mantra, to himself. Continue reading “Nollywood”

Bus Tales

He wasn’t a fan of confrontations. He was the kind of kid to leave to sit on the sidelines whenever his mates were having a row, the kind to approach from a distance only when the fight was over. So when the nurse (she was dressed like one, after all) seated beside him in the bus shouted at him for hitting her with his head while asleep, all he could do was mumble something that sounded like an apology. She seemed so aggressive, he thought; how ironic for someone in her line of work. He was tired. It was Lagos in 2004, so the roads were barely motorable and the buses were extremely rickety; the kinds found in the junkyards of America, refurbished, and then sold as tokunbo. He was on his way from school at Egbeda to his house at Anthony. His brother was obviously uncomfortable, repeatedly moving from left to right, seeking comfort, which meant he was left bumping up and down on his brother’s laps just like the bus was bumping up and down the potholes to Oshodi. He used to call the traffic unbearable, but his father told him that for something to be unbearable, it meant that thing could not be endured. Now he calls the traffic barely-bearable. He wasn’t very happy. He knew that for a twelve year old, not being happy wasn’t a normal thing; and that knowing that he wasn’t happy wasn’t very normal either. His friends in school were always so peachy and always had so much to say, but he had never been much of a talker. Not since he had told his father about what his uncle did and he didn’t believe him, anyway.
“Deolu,” his brother called, “Are you sleeping again?” Deolu looked back and smiled, he turned forward again. He had been learning to smile in front of a mirror for years, and had perfected the art. He remembered his mother’s smile. So effortless. Everything about her was
effortless, even her beauty. He still wished from time to time he had taken after her, and not his very Yorùbá looking father. Always getting the short end of the stick was something he’d been trying to get used to. He felt a sharp pain by his left side and turned back swiftly, almost hitting the nurse who was trying to pick something off the floor. She hissed. “I wasn’t sleeping na,” he said to his brother. His brother wasn’t a fan of his. To be honest, no one was a fan of his. He had friends, sure, but he was always alone. He had never been his favourite’s favourite, so he simply stopped having favourites. People liked him though. He was always smiling, they said. They loved how jovial he always seemed to be.
His uncle. He remembered his uncle. He had read in a novel years ago about a woman who simply forgot about her own “tragic event” and had developed multiple personalities because of her forgetfulness. He didn’t want those, so he thought of his uncle often. Deolu thought of the day he walked in on his uncle naked, dressing up in front of the bedside mirror in the room that was his and his brother’s, but had been forfeited to his uncle for his short stay in Nigeria. He, being a confused child, got aroused as Uncle Yomi looked so much like the men in the videos his brother used to watch. Uncle Yomi noticed and laughed. He still remembers the way his mouth moved when he laughed, how his fingernails looked so long and white when he pointed. How his crow’s foot shifted upwards and how deep his voice sounded when he urged him to come closer.
“Mi o de Underbrigde mo, Bolade le ti ma so,” the conductor said. Everyone in the bus, including his brother began shouting about how the conductor had called Underbridge when he was loading. Everyone was so aggressive in Lagos. Where did they find the energy? A fistfight
began to erupt between the conductor and the nurse. The driver looked back and attempted to break the fight. Deolu noticed the distracted driver swerve towards the oncoming traffic. It was too late to say anything. Deolu smiled.

The boy beside her hit her with his head again. She had had a terrible day at the hospital. First, Nkechi came in with news of her engagement; who would have thought green-toothed Nkechi would get married before her. Then she found out her boyfriend of two weeks, Adamu, wasn’t actually a millionaire, but a common driver. Her, she had slept with a driver, again! Now this boy in smelly and dirty school uniform was trying to give her headache with his own box head. She shouted at him, and he apologised. Men, all they knew how to do was apologise. Offend, then apologise. Sin, then apologise. That stick between their two legs can’t make them think properly. She hated all of them. From Adamu, her dubious lover, to her father, who used to touch her. All of them. So so I’m sorry all the time, dem no no pass sorry. And she should have known, what kind of millionaire wears torn leather slippers and lets his brother sit in the back while he drives. Just like Chibu used to do that time.
“Abeg close that door,” she said to the conductor. Her purse dropped, and as she bent to pick it the foolish boy almost hit her again, she hissed. “I go slap this boy today,” she thought. All these dirty buttey children that don’t know how to act in buses. When she was his age, she used to stand in molues. That’s what they should bring these children up with. Spoilt children.
“Mi o de Underbrigde mo, Bolade le ti ma so,” the conductor shouted aggressively. These men have started again. She shouted back at the conductor, and when it seemed like he wasn’t going to change his mind, she grabbed on to his shirt and slapped his chest. Two punches on her breast, someone was trying to pull them apart. A loud noise, glass in her face as the conductor let go. What was happening?

He used to come home from school himself when he was twelve; but his father pampered Deolu. The boy’s school uniform was so dirty, and he probably couldn’t wash it himself. So lazy. He didn’t know how to do anything. The ugly nurse should have slapped him for hitting her with his big head. The seat was so uncomfortable, Deolu smelled, and so did the nurse by his left and the conductor by his right. What it took them to wash their clothes, take their baths and buy hundred Naira deodorant, he didn’t know. People just liked being dirty. Deolu’s bed sheet looked like it had been run over by a coal train. So dirty. Everything was just so wrong about the Deolu boy, but his father still loved the pig more.
The nurse said something, and a strange odour wafted towards his nose. He asked if Deolu was sleeping again, the foolish boy smiled. He pinched him. Who is smiling with this one? Always disgracing someone in buses every day. It was as sure as Nigeria winning tomorrow’s match against Mali. Saturday was the final. Tunisia was going to play Morocco on Valentine’s Day, and he hadn’t bought Sewa a present. He had been saving for a perfume and the type of chocolates Uncle Yomi used to bring from London. The chemist opposite his JAMB
lesson centre had some. He still didn’t have enough money, so he would simply lie to Popsy that they told them to pay PTA fees at lesson. Not like the man would know what it means, or even hear him, anyway.
All these for Sewa, beautiful Sewa, Sewa that wouldn’t let him touch her. He had told his friends that had done it before; he didn’t want to be known as the seventeen-year-old virgin. His birthday had just passed, and he thought Sewa would give him herself as his present, but the foolish girl said she wasn’t ready. Well, the perfume and chocolates were expensive; she’d definitely be ready this time. “Mi o de Underbrigde mo, Bolade le ti ma so,” the conductor shouted. Not again, these conductors did this every time and they always seemed to get away with it. “E ba mi gbe change mi oo, mo gbodo gba change,” he shouted back. He’d add the change to his Valentine’s Day savings.
The smelly ugly nurse suddenly leaped towards him and dragged the conductor, the smell intensified; the three smelly demons had squeezed him together. A loud noise. “God, what is that strange smell?” he thought as his eye caught the conductor falling.

What foolish door should he close? Did her father put the door there for him? She dey crase? Well, he didn’t have her time; Salewa was waiting for him at home. Kabiru had given him the news at Sogunle, and he couldn’t wait for the bus to turn back.
“Mi o de Underbrigde mo, Bolade le ti ma so,” he told them. As expected, the passengers started to complain. They had no choice, they sha could not collect their money back. The ugly yellow nurse was still shouting; he hummed an Osupa track to himself. Next thing he felt was the witch dragging and slapping him, she had big breasts; he punched and pulled them. Baba Bose was trying to break the fight. Loud noise. He was on the floor. He should have closed the door.