|Image from here|
Today, Oga M. is driving me to Federal Palace Hotel for the Small World charity event that I’m attending with a friend. We’re in Ahmadu Bello traffic when he asks me when I’ll be ready to leave and will I need him to come take me home. I say no. I don’t know when the event will end, plus I can easily get a cab home from around the hotel. But I don’t add all this.
After a moment of silence, he asks, ‘You’re going to see your white man, abi?’
I take my time before I answer. It’s not a difficult question; I’m just trying to decide if I’m amused or offended. I decide I am amused. He is a funny man. It’s my bad if I assume that because he drives me around sometimes he would know me well enough to know that I don’t have ‘white men’ scattered amongst the big hotels in Lagos. I laugh, stifling the part of me that still wants to conk him.
‘Which white man?’ I say, ‘The one you kept for me?’
‘Ahn ahn, you never date white man before?’
‘No,’ I say. He looks so disappointed, I want to make up stories for him.
‘And white men dey like awon lepa shandy like you o; skinny skinny girls,’ he says.
‘Okay,’ I say. ‘Good to know.’
We reach Federal Palace and I get out of the car. But his eyes are watching me walk away, and I get the feeling that this isn’t over.
I’m right. Sort of.
About a week later, a few days after Valentine’s, I’m going to see another friend whose son is turning one. I don’t want to go empty handed so I grab a box of chocolates that has been sitting in my room and throw it in a bag. When Oga M. drops me off at my friend’s place he gives me this suggestive smile, wigging his eyebrows.
‘It’s him you’re coming to see, abi? The guy from last Saturday,’ he says, nodding at the bag with the chocolates. ‘That’s why you carried Valentine’s gift.’
I can’t help it; I start laughing. And this time I don’t even want to hit him.
‘Eheeeen,’ he says, ‘I don catch you now.’
I’m still laughing when his car speeds off.
It’s interesting, the assumptions we invite people to make just by being. I’ve decided to let him keep his stories. I have stories of my own.
Hi, everyone. This here is the first in a series of (mostly) real life conversations with a taxi driver, Oga M. Stories come from all sorts of people, places and experiences, and I'm grateful to Oga M for being an unwitting muse, though he might never read this.