|Image from here|
It didn’t take them long to realize they were lost. Three little sisters, walking the streets in their matching Three Little Pigs pajamas, fingers clutching the Lego bags their mother had given them to store their underwear in. Nobody wanted to be the first to say it, but as surely as they could still feel the welts from mummy’s lashing last night, they knew they were lost.
“See! See that bus there! Let us enter and tell them to take us to grandmother’s house,” the youngest squealed.
The second sister, the troop leader, considered this for a moment. Deciding it would not be a bad course of action, she pulled her sisters’ hands. They walked toward the bus and its screaming conductor.
“Ago Palace Way, Ago! Wole Ago Palace Way!”
The second sister tugged at the conductor's faded black shorts, and he scowled down at them. “Wetin!” he croaked.
“We are going to our grandmother’s house,” she said, looking in his red eyes.
The conductor was a little taken aback by the audacity of the girl. In a slightly more civil tone, he asked, “For where?”
“In Ikot Ekpene,” the oldest one said, with more certainty than she felt.
The conductor pulled the few strands of hair on his chin. Ikot Ekpene? That wasn’t one of his bus stops and he was sure he hadn’t heard of any such place along his route. If he let them in, where would he drop them? But passengers were scarce at that hour. Maybe take them in, let them out at the last bus stop?
“Ikot Ekpene? Do you children know where you are going at all? This is Lagos; Ikot Ekpene is in Akwa Ibom State.”
The owner of the voice, a wizened old woman, poked her head out to look at the children. Then she moved to sit closer to the door, squinting at them with murky eyes. The two other passengers on the bus looked on.
“Young ladies, where is your mother?” the old woman asked.
The first sister was about to speak; tell the woman they were running away. But the second gave her a timely pinch. The oldest yelped, but otherwise her mouth remained shut.
“I said where are your parents, eh? Can’t you talk again?”
The conductor had lost interest and resumed yelling his destination to attract passengers, and the old woman looked like she might jump down from the bus to get them. The second sister looked at the third, and then at the first. As if responding to some inaudible cue, all three took off running from the bus stop, down the street. And they ran and they ran, only stopping when they could no longer hear the voice of the old woman calling out behind them.