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Friday, November 21, 2014

Danfo Chronicles: The Man with a Demon Spirit

One evening after work I took a danfo bus from Lekki Roundabout heading home. Home was only another couple of stops away, and so I was expecting an uneventful trip. 

This bus driver had no conductor, and so he was doing the job of driving, collecting the fares, calling for passengers and calling out bus stops. All was well until the driver called a bus stop and the man sitting right in front of me said ‘o wa’. The driver slowed down and pulled up to the curb at the requested bus stop, and the passenger proceeded to get down. As he rose from his seat, his back bent so he could pass through the low doorway, his t-shirt rode up and his pants slipped like halfway down his ass. I could see the dark hairs between his ass cheeks. I recoiled in shock at first, and then I held my face in my hands and laughed. The woman beside me started making a weird shrieking noise, shooing the already gone man with a frantic movement of her hands.

‘Hmmmmm!’ she said. ‘Please go go go go! With im dirty yansh!’

The woman next to her agreed. ‘Imagine, big man like this dey open yansh. When he’s not a small boy.’

‘Ehn!’ someone said. ‘And na the same man wey no wan bring money before o.’

They launched into a discussion I couldn’t follow, detailing some atrocity the man had committed before I got on the bus.

The driver sped on and the man with the ass was soon forgotten. A few minutes passed and two passengers, one man and one woman, said they wanted to stop at Ikate. The driver started an argument by saying that Ikate was not a bus stop and they would have to stop at Elegushi Beach.

‘You dey crase!’ the male passenger said. ‘Ikate is not a bus stop since when?’

‘Dey there dey ask me question,’ the driver muttered.

‘Don’t mind him; he’s very wicked,’ the woman said. ‘Is it today we started entering bus on this road?’

‘This driver no sabi road,’ some other passenger remarked.

‘Una dey talk your own,’ the driver said. ‘I say I no dey stop for Ikate.’

The passengers were powerless to do anything as the driver sped past their Ikate Bus Stop. He stopped the bus a few metres ahead, at Elegushi Beach, and waited to offload his angry cargo.

‘You this driver, you are very wicked,’ the woman said as she clambered out of the bus. ‘So you want us to start trekking from here back to Ikate? Is it easy to trek? Wicked man!’

Many of the others in the bus spoke out in solidarity with the offended passengers. There were declarations of how danfo drivers had no sense and how they were the root of all the world’s evils and how, if not for condition ehn, ‘who will even be using these dirty danfos’?

The male passenger was quiet as he got down. He stood by the curb, and as the driver waited for a chance to ease back into traffic, he started to speak.

‘It is God that will punish you, you this wicked driver,’ he said. ‘It will not be better for you. You will see ehn, as you are going now you will have accident.’

The driver said nothing, but the reaction from the passengers was swift.

‘Shut up!’

‘Thunder fire your mouth there!’

‘It is you that will have accident! Olori buruku!’

Our bus drove on, leaving Elegushi Beach and the angry passenger behind. The bus grew quiet, the silence only broken occasionally when some passenger reflected out loud on the words of the prophet of doom.

‘Stupid man,’ somebody said. ‘He should have said the driver will have accident after he has first dropped all of us.’

There were murmurs of agreement.

‘That man has a demon spirit.’

And this was the final consensus.  



Friday, November 7, 2014

Beloved

I don’t know what it is about her that holds me. Tethered to her like an anchored ship, I cannot move. I don’t want to move. I want to sink, into her. I have watched her so many days, all the more fetching because she is oblivious to my scrutiny. I want to know her, inside and out; maybe then I will figure it out.

I have a mind that will not let go of a thing, that will not let me rest until I find my answer. (The office HR person says my ‘doggedness’ is one of my best qualities.) Like a fly trapped in a glass jar, the question will play a game of pinball in my brain, bouncing against the walls of my mind. The feeling is a sweet kind of pain, like the moment just before you finally let out the stream of urine you have been holding in for hours. Or like that second right before you come.

Now I have her alone in this house in the middle of nowhere. She’s regaining consciousness. Soon she will begin looking around, fear rising in her stomach and questions clouding her mind. (I wonder if she is like me, with the questions.) I will tell her that she has nothing to fear; that she owns me. This is true. It is why we are here. But even though I say this in my most soothing tone, carefully cultivated over many years, her eyes grow alarmed. They start to tear up.

Her eyes.

Maybe it’s her eyes – brown and ordinary except they are like saucers. In many of my photos of her she’s closing her eyes, and I wonder for a moment if she tries to hide them, if years of teasing have made her self-conscious. I want to share with her that in junior secondary I was teased for my very full lips (‘when God was sharing lips he kept doing Oliver Twist, hahaha’), the same lips that female people now call ‘kissable’. But I do not think she will appreciate this.

Maybe it is her eyes.

I fetch a strip of cloth like the one she wears as a gag, and I blindfold her, steadying her head with a gentle grip as she shakes it furiously from side to side and up and down. I stand back, walk thirteen small steps away. I look back at her and realise I can still feel the eyes. The blindfold is not enough. I will have to take her eyes out.

So I take her eyes out. I toss them in a bucket as I decide that no, it is not her eyes that hold me in chains. I am bound still. My quest will have to continue.

I stare into the holes where her eyes used to be. This could take the whole night. 



PS: My very short story, 'Business', was published recently in These Words Expose Us, a new anthology by The Naked Convos. The anthology also features stories from Pemi Aguda, Osemhen Akhibi and other brilliant writers. In other words, get the anthology!

For more information and how/where to buy, please go here.