This piece was previously published on Isaacolanewnaija.com, as the 16th entry for the Bus Tales series.
I have always held the opinion that there are two types of people in the world; bad people, like Clifford Orji and Idi Amin, and then good people, like Jesus and me. I am a good person, but I do not understand why such a bad thing had to happen to me.
I have always hated Public Transport, and I have always hated Lagos. I remember when I had my 3 months internship, and I had to wake up by 5 every morning, to get to Ikeja from Alagbado. For a student who always skips 7am classes, that was a major chore for me. This was the major reason I vowed not to spend my 6 months internship at Lagos, but alas, as they say “The love of money is the root of all evil”.
I work at Anthony Village and I “travel” from Alagbado to Anthony Village and back every day. It is hell. Kind of. On this fateful(less) day, I had taken my usual bike from the office to Anthony, and I had to wait for a bus to Oshodi Isale for over 15 minutes. I did not even mind, I was used to it. A bus to Oshodi Isale finally came, and as a boy who has stayed in Lagos for over 20 years, I hustled for it and got in. Badoo.
I do not have to describe how rickety the bus was. It was a typical Lagos bus, probably something out the junkyards of America. Anyway, once in, I yanked my earplugs out of my ears, as the track playing was a track my “upcoming musician” friend made me download, and I hated the crap. As the pockets of my pants were too tight (as a happening guy) to be relieved of my phone, I simply removed the earpiece from my ears and started typing on my BlackBerry that I was holding. The conductor stood right beside me as I was sitting right by the door. I did not mind that his shirt had the stench of a 5 day old dead body (I may be exaggerating a little bit). I did not mind that his mouth was swollen by the left; the swelling was as big as my fist (something I not had notice before I hustled in). I did not even mind that he decided to put his crotch, covered by his dirty jean, right beside my face (he would sit soon anyway).
Luckily (or rather, unluckily as it would turn out) for me, a passenger right beside me alighted, and the conductor decided to sit. He would finally get his crotch out of my face. I was happy. Little did I know the face-crotch was heaven.
The conductor sat, I shifted to avoid the stench of his shirt. As I shifted, I was confronted by the stench of the woman beside me, it smelt like a milder version of those big iron waste-bins located around female hotels in OAU. Best believe, milder in no way refers to mild. It was terrible. I assume she was on her period; N500 Sure was expensive after all. I still did not mind (okay, maybe I did, a bit). Then the Conductor spoke. He spoke.
Before I proceed, I must first state that I have a big nose. It is a distinguishing feature on my face. I can smell whoever or whatever from 100 meters away, it is a talent I am most proud of.
You see, when this conductor spoke, oh my God. I am sure I prayed for death unconsciously. If you know Lagos, you probably know Anthony Village to Oshodi is less than 10 minutes. Easily the worst 10 minutes of my life. The smell of his un-brushed mouth, plus the smell of the swollen gum, plus the smell of his shirt, plus the smell of the bleeding woman, it would have been better if I had been hit in the head with cast iron, Olorun! I cried, I cannot even lie and form hard, I cried! I could not control it, the tears just poured. The worst part was that he was speaking to me, asking for his N30. I squeezed my face and handed him N100, which was when the real trouble started. He began to shout about how he had said we should enter with our change, that because I’m one spoilt brat with a “BB”, I thought I could have my way abi? I was supposed to be embarrassed, but, the smell from his mouth made me continue to cry. A thick Yoruba voice from the back told him to take it easy, as the “small boy” had started to cry already, they did not know the true reason I was crying. He laughed, my tears intensified. We were already by the Samsung digital billboard now and the tears had not seized. He sneezed facing the ground and the smell rose from the bottom up. Tears continued to flow. By the time we got to Oshodi, I alighted and he laughed some more and handed me my change. I collected it amidst sorry-s and peles. I nodded a few times and walked in deep embarrassment. I will forever hate Public Transport. I will forever hate Lagos.