THE GIDI IN LAGOSIANS

1
I boarded the Molue at Obalende, heading for Oshodi. I was lucky to be among the 44 sitting, and there amongst the 99 standing was one shrivelled, washed-out and tired-looking old crone of a woman. she was clinging onto the backrest of my seat, because her hands couldn’t reach the handrail above her head. Each time the rickety bus jerked forward, and that is too often, my shoulders would connect with the discomfiting hard knobs of her claw-like knuckles. I was too dead beat to worry about the Gagool. She was contributing her meagre quota to the heat, the noisome smell of unwashed bodies, the noise, and the general atmosphere of the Molué.

There was the colicky cry of a baby from somewhere at the rear of the bus. The very yelling could have blown off the roof of the noisy bus, but the cry wasn’t doing enough to drown out the racket from the row in front of me. Two people- a very fat woman and a very thin young man had started to quarrel. The Sumo-Wrestler-looking fat woman had occupied more than her rightful share of seat space; and the thin young man that has a neck like an ostrich was sitting at the edge with only one part of his buttocks, and pushing hard back against the unyielding human mountain that seemed bent on completely dislodging him from the seat. I couldn’t believe such a small body could emitting so much sound of complains, the way the young man went about verbalizing his forlorn plight. The big woman was not to be out-shouted, she was giving back as much berating as she was getting. Despite the hullaboo , a preacher was carrying on in a would-be Queens English about how Jesus love us, and how we will all go to heaven and ride in Hummer Jeeps before the end of this year 2013 and how those who don’t believe will die by fire in Jesus name. The loquacious middle-age man sitting to my right, had a mobile phone pressed to his ear. He was going on and on in an endless transaction about 12 feet Containers of Motorcycle spare parts. he was speaking stutteringly in Igbo, and the lots of his loud talks with the faceless respondent, whom I’m sure was also yelling his or her head off too, were demonstrated by his hand gestures and general body language. I found that a disturbance too.

Soon, we ran into a traffic jam on the Third Mainland Bridge. The heat, the smell, and the general jungle nature of the bus became too claustrophobic for me. A cure-all-remedy sales man had joined in the bedlam. The Ibo businessman had ended his phone conversation, and “Cover me with the blood, Jesus Cover me with the blood…” had started to scream out of the man’s Tecno mobile handset as unnecessary gospel music. And that was the last straw that broke the back of my endurance. I could have thrown my hands up in the air and yelled in frustration, but who would have cared. This is lagos.

2
I got up, and offered my seat to the Old Crone. She was so appreciative and full of blessings-invocation, and contributing to the sound pollution that I wished I hadn’t given my seat up for her. I regret giving up my seat to take the Crone’s place, standing and hanging onto the handrails. I regret too, because with my hands holding onto the handrails I couldn’t read and reply the BBM chat messages, or read and comment on facebook status, or keep up with Tweeter. It was very much like jumping from fry pan to fire. Terrible got a new meaning for me.

Standing there hanging on, I was tightly pressed on all sides by the seething mass of sweating smelly bodies. Well, I got my own back, because I was sweating no less than the prime sweater in that bus. I’m sure I was doing good in the smelly department too. Some dude that seem to have a huge sausage or torchlight in his crouch was pressing hard into me from behind. I was so pushed from behind that I was also pressing into a lady in front of me. I had begun to get an erection the instant my shaft was trapped between the cleft of her bums.

The conductor was collecting the fares, wriggling through the tightly packed mass of sweaty, smelly bodies. I managed to retrieve my money from my hip pocket, and gave the conductor a hundred Naira Note, he gave me a piece of shredded playing card to indicate that he was owing me change. He was taking 50 Naira for Standing and 70 Naira for sitting. I told him I was paying for the Old Crone’s seat. I made it clear to him that I gave my seat up to the Old Lady who was previously standing, that I will pay 70 as if I was sitting, and he should collect only 50 Naira from the old Lady as if she was standing. He told he had no time for my grammar, waved me off as if I was some annoying fly that had perched on his nose, and turned to ask for his fare from the thin Ostrich-neck dude. The Thin Man said he was going to pay only 20 Naira, that the Fat Lady who’d occupied the greater space on the seat should pay the rest of his fare. The conductor started to rain abusive words on him, asking him if he was a JJC or an oloshi. Soon everything was smoothed out. The thin Man paid the full fare of 70 Naira, despite he was sitting with half a arse; I paid 120 Naira to cover mine and the Crone’s fare. The conductor called out Iyana-Iworo as the bus neared the Iyana-Iworo bus-stop. Some people yelled back: Owa o! Iyana-Iworo wa o! The old crone and the Fat Woman also echoed “Iyana-Iworo wa o!”, indicating that they wished to disembark at the I Iyana-Iworo bus-stop.

Soon, the bus slowed down as it reached the bus-stop. Commuters were jumping onto the bus to take the place of those jumping down from the Molué. The athletic dexterity of the jumping off to disembark, and jumping on to board the bus is a beauty to behold. It was really entertaining to watch. I never get tired of watching it. The Sumo-Wrestler-looking fat lady and the old crone had not gone down when the bus started to gather speed to move on and away from the Iyana-Iworo bus-stop in continuation of the journey. They had to jump down or get past their bus-stop to the next. I could never have imagined that such a fat person as the fat woman is a bundle of agility. She landed fair and square on her feet, running. The Old crone followed suit and I held my breath as she was out of the bus and in mid-air. She landed fair and square on her feet, ran a few yard to absorb the shock of the impact of the landing. It looked trained and efficient, so expertly done that I let out an involuntary “wowsome, whoop whoop!” It was nothing new really, I witness and partake of the beautiful imperfection that Lagos Transport System is, everyday.

Peel the surface a Lagosian, you’ll find a tough survivor. The Traffic Wahala, besides other vagaries of Lagos Life, toughens the people. You can’t live here, at least one week, and not become an alagidi. An alagidi is a one who survives by brains as well as by brawn. Your personality make up does not get in your way in performing extra-normal feats as a Lagosian. That is the Gidi in Lagosians.

MY FRIEND SUNDAY AND I

Sunday and I were just hired labours. I was the better looking guy, though he was more muscular and macho in outlook, but that shouldn’t make the ladies like him better than me. Sunday was my closest pal, but I dislike him now for his slothfulness. He wasn’t really any lazier than I was, but he was wont to forego work for play when the girls are around.

There was this particular incidence that made me want to kill Sunday: the ladies were paying the idiot more attention than they were paying me. Sunday and I have been assigned to the shitty task of mixing manure with top soil, along with two farm-hand girls whose task was stuffing the mixture into nursery bags and planting in the oil palm seedlings. On that day, Sunday abandoned our joint-task of shoveling shit and went frolicking with the girls, giving them a hand with their own task of stuffing the nursery bags with mixture of dirt-manure, and poking a hole in top middle end of the stuffed bag and planting-in a palm seedling. It was a relatively easier task than mixing manure. I wouldn’t have given a fuck if the fucking sluggards were fucking on the job, but I was peeved because Shadya, one of the girls who I had been secretly admiring, was paying Sunday far too much attention for my convenience and peace of mind.

Shadya was delibrately letting her skirt ride up her thighs to let my Lazy-ass friend feed his lusty eyes on whatever she got between the thighs. The annoying part was that Sunday was not looking away as expected of a gentleman; he was ogling and sloberring and pissing me the fuck off. He wasn’t even doing a good job of stuffing the nursery bags with the manure and dirt I was labourously throwing their way. He was absent-mindedly poking, and poking, and forever poking his forefinger into a nursery bag like an automaton, and drooling like a damn bulldog panting for a cur.

The other girl, Ekaete, was ceaselessly talking some nonsensical things that must have sounded very sweet to Sunday, making him poke faster and faster. I was mad- red-hot-mad. So hot I could have blown a fuse at all that drama unfolding in front of me.

Each time I straightened up from the back-breaking task of shovelling crap, to look their way, Ekaete would stop talking, and Shadya would let the helm of her skirt drop to her knees. Each time this occurred, (and it was very frequently) I got angrier, I got madder and I got hotter- I was murderously peeved. I could have chopped off the heads of all three of the slothful bastards with one swing of my shovel. I would’ve taken off Sunday’s head first; then Shadya’s, saving Ekaete’s last. I would have spat down Ekaete’s throat, stuffed manure into Sunday’s throat and jack off on Shadya’s bloody throat.
In my mind I had dared Shadya to annoy me just one more time by dropping her skirt on my view and they will all feel the heat of my wrath. I was just straightening up from the shitty task to try and catch a glimpse of what viewing pleasure Shadya was denying me and indulging my stupid friend Sunday, when Mr Ogunlade, the Farm overseer suddenly appeared and barked at me: “get to work, you fucking sluggard…”. Then I saw that the Monster tractor driven by the Ogre Mr Tambolo had brought in more Manure, and was already unloading the shit onto the unfinished heap I had been working on, and I was already neck-deep in the stinking shit.

At the end of that day, I got half the regular wage, because I did not meet my target of shoveling and mixing enough manure. Sunday and the girls got full pay. I have still not forgiven my friend Sunday till this day. I have forgotten about Shadya, because I hated her after that incidence. As for Ekaete, well I don’t really care for her even though she was made my overseer.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

LAGOS BUS CONDUCTORS: A URBAN MENACE

Don’t ever be kind to a Lagos Bus Conductor. Yes, Danfo and Molué Conductors are humans too, and they deserve to be seen and heard. Respect them, yes; but be kind to them, not on your life. Lagos Bus Conductors, next to agberos, are the most uncivil set of individual you can ever find in a human society. Everything about them bespeaks uncouth, unmannered, unlearned and abhorrent. The ragamuffin dress code, the brash, grating lingo, and the mostly-drunken or doped mien, together with the acts they exhibit, are appalling, to put it mildly. And they have “feral scents” to boot.

Well, I have had several rubs with Danfo and Molué Conductors to have nothing lofty or sublime to say about them. I have been swindled and robbed and man-handled, and insulted and abused by these human beasts, to not waste flowery words on them and what they do. I am a man who knows: They don’t like you if you are the highbrow type. They will tongue lash you to pulp if you dare to reason with them in such Language of learning as English. They will practically throw you out of their recklessly-driven bus if you won’t pay the correct fare. The bus fare is usually hiked when it gets to your turn to pay if they know you are a J.J.C. (Johnny Just Come, From Out Of Town)

Many times I have forgotten to ask for my change when alighting from a bus, no conductor has ever called my attention to the oversight. You can hardly ever short-change a Lagos Bus Conductor. You dare not even joke with them, unless you are as crazy as they are. The other day I took a bus from Obalende to Lekki-Maroko; the conductor had been particularly harsh to one bespectacled, catholic-looking old lady, who was pleading with him to excuse her that she had only ninety Naira of the One Hundred Naira fare. The conductor was so verbally assaulting the poor lady, imprecating on her like he would kill her dead with his lashing tongue, that a fellow passenger had bailed the poor woman out by making good the deficiency of Ten Naira. We hadn’t gone a mile when the conductor asked if anybody in the bus could help him with a change for Five Hundred Naira Note. He was going to give a passenger four Hundred Naira Change, but had only one Two Hundred Naira Note. I obliged him by lending him the single Two Hundred Naira Note I had. I did that to teach him a lesson in kindness. But I was so wrong. I was already on an Okada in the last lap of my journey to The Palms when it occurred to me that I had forgotten to ask back my lended money. I had paid my full fare, and to forego my Two Hundred would be a forlorn waste. I raced back to the bus stop, but the bus was gone, with the rogue conductor and my money. What a swindle? On another incident, I paid the fare of Fitfy Naira with a Five Hundred Naira Note. I had kept asking for the change right from Constain to Orile, but in the mad rush to disembark to hop on the available Okada to continue my journey to Mile 2
I cleanly forgot the change. That was a daylight robbery.

I don’t know how the conductor craft- particularly, Molue, and Danfo- conductorship came into being. Perhaps it is the Lagos Hustle, but why subsequent governments of Lagos have condone their nefarious activities beats me. I suggested their phasing out, but my respondent took me back to school on the importance of Bus Conductors. I found that these miscreants have great use and importance to society as a pool of human resources in certain professions.

These Bus Conductors like the agberos, and Area Boys, are the standing army of political thugs and bandits. Unscrupulous politicians employ these ones to terrorise their opponents and snatch electoral materials or assault Electoral Officers, and the carrying out the general works of electoral malpractices, during elections. This is to say, there are some who are favourably disposed to the menace of these scums of the Lagos Earth.

Those who are kind to them are like them, and so are those who accommodate them. They and those who support them are public enemies. I hope succeeding government of this excellent state wake up to the need of sanitising the polity by phasing out these miscreants. I would have suggested phasing out Molue and Danfos, but these are Modern Cultural Heritage of Lagos State, The Center of Excellence. We don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. The iron fist to punch them with should be wrapped in velvet.

Eko o ni baje o!

OF PERFUMES AND NATURAL SCENTS FOR MEN

Be mindful how you go spraying on other people’s perfumes. What works for one may not work for all.

I don’t have a bad B.O. And so I don’t spend good money on perfumes. I have always been cool with roll-on and deodorant sprays, Nivea range has always been my choice: effective and pocket-friendly Nivea, Good For Me. But I got hooked-in by Pure Black™ Eau De Toilette Pour Homo. It actually smelt like OMO™ but I like the clean fresh scent on My Cousin, and he’s one handsome dude. The Ladies die daily for him.

All dressed up to KilI-Em-Dead on St. Valentine’s Day, I sneaked into my cousin’s room and helped meself to a ample amount of the content of the small black vial. I smelt nice. I felt good, and ready to woo and court, until one chic asked me if I rear goats. That question got me thinking I probably smelt like goat to others. My mood was dampened as a result. I became cautious how close I got to people for the rest of the day. While going home at eventide, one corporate-looking bro, with whom I rode in a bus, asked me discreetly (wrinking his nose) if I have pissed in my pants. I Shook my head, and asked him, back, discreetly, whether I smelt that bad, all he said was “damnn!” shaking his head.

That was it for me. I know it was that perfume I borrowed. It was made for Men, but certainly not for All Men. We have different natural musks, and we smell differently. Perfumes and Toilet Waters may enhance or destroy our natural scent. I need not tell you this, that I went ahunting on st. Valentine’s day and came home empty-handed. My wrong body scent was my undoing. Scents are crucial in the primordial game of courting the opposite sex.

Different scent works for different occasion. The next time I want to disperse a crowd of females, I will borrow my cousin’s perfume. It is a nice perfume, but for me it works as an offensive weapon, better than a skunk’s fart.

THE ADAOBI TRICIA NWAUBANI I KNOW AND LOVE

“BIGOTS and racists exist in America, without a doubt, but America today is a more civilized place than Nigeria. Not because of its infrastructure or schools or welfare system. But because the principle of equality was laid out way back in its Declaration of Independence.”

“FATWA on whoever said that!” (?) Not so fast.

The recent unpopular post by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, titled “In Nigeria You Are Either Somebody Or You Are Nobody” in the New York Times Online, has raised a lot of dusts, provoking the righteous indignation of well meaning Nigerians both at home and abroad. Her head is being called for by even slobbering dim-witted lots, who have not read more than the caption of her article. I have been put at loggerheads with good friends and colleagues over the objective view and open mind I chose to approach the matter with. The bone of contention was the lopsided comparison of Nigeria with the United States of America.

Adaobi had opened her piece with: “IN America, all men are believed to be created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. But Nigerians are brought up to believe that our society consists of higher and lesser beings.”

While I think that this is true, it is still laying it on too hard, to my mind. To say Nigerians are brought to believe that all men are not born equal is an aberration to the tenets of Our Union as a Federal Republic. On the New York Times Blog, I have commented that:

While I will not say “na good thing” or “na bad thing”, I am of the opinion that the postulate:

“…America… is a more civilized place than Nigeria.”

Is prodigally pandering to Amelika wonder; which is a misguided and inchoate rouge-tinted view favoured by such gullible Nigerians as the Haves and Have-nots- who voraciusly consume Hollywood and condemn Nollywood.

But, looking below the surface of the… piece, I see a allegorical undertone. There is a current of satirism running below the surface, churning and playing up the subliminal dirts of global politics… And I hold this view to be true and self evident.

I know Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani. I loved her, still do. Although, she has became unpopular in literary circles as a backlash from the unpupular post in. My friend Adaobi is the author of the Commonwealth Prize For Literature Winner I DO NOT COME TO YOU BY CHANCE; she is a journalist of repute and have held, and still holds offices of great responsibilities. I met her in 2009 in Port Harcourt, during the Garden City Literary Festival holden there. She had been one of the resource persons at the event. And resourceful she truly was. All who meet and befriend her will attest to this fact.

Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, did not come across to me like one who would look down her beautiful nose at any one person who may not be in her class. No, not at all. She is a elegant, smart, vocal, and have that personal carriage that Men Of Little Faith dread in independent and upward-mobile women. But Adaobi’s diva aura was what attracted me to her, beside her glorious singlehood. It started with asking her for a autograph which she obliged me without a fuss. And from the moment of signing that autograph she never forgot my name.

She had that ready smile for everyone everywhere, anytime and anyhow. I was in her Creative Writing class. Many times I came across Adaobi around the Hotel Presidential (venue of the GCLF) she seemed to possess an inexhaustible supply of zest. Myriads of time I ran into her in the lobby, the lounge, the bar, on the lawn, in the book stalls, or the workshop rooms, she would greet me or return my greetings. Adaobi would address me familiarly, and will always stop to have a chat with the shy me, as well as with anyone who craved her attention. I was really shy in those days. But Adaobi looked past my faults to be friend with me. Sharing her contact was not a big deal for her like it is to some highfaluting Nigerian socialites and elites. She was available for all who subscribed to her mentoring, and she truly imparted genius on me, a literary neophyte, when our paths crossed.

While we may be quick in our righteous anger to condemn Adaobi for her perceived error of misrepresentation without trial, let us, while doing that, reason with ourselves whether we are less culpable of the sin we condemn her for; the sin of pandering to the American Dream, which is nothing more than a dream. You see, the same reason leaders will not build refineries or schools or hospitals or invest here? And the likes of My Sweet Adaobi will always pander to all things “Amelika Wonder”

In my comment on the blog post, I said:

While I will not say “na good thing” or “na bad thing”, I am of the opinion that the postulate:

“…America… is a more civilized place than Nigeria.”

Is prodigally pandering to Amelika wonder; which is a misguided and inchoate rouge-tinted view favoured by gullible Nigerians, the Haves and Have-nots- who voraciously consume Hollywood and condemn Nollywood.

But, looking below the surface of the masterfully crafted piece, I see a allegorical undertone. There is a current of satire running below the surface, churning and playing up the subliminal dirts of global politics. My view… and I hold this view to be true and self evident to all who care to look.

My views, as stated above, are by no means coloured by my sentimental affinity to Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, but I strive for a objective and a middle-way of looking at her latest offering. I wish we would all try sometimes to see things from this perspective; and deal with perceived erring friends with open minds. None of us holy pass.

I still Love The Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani of I DO NOT COME TO YOU BY CHANCE, and this Love covers the multitude of her sins. So Help Me God.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

THE THING ABOUT LINDA IKEJI

As far as I am concerned, I am the only one having a crush on Linda Ikeji. I have eternally maintained this crush, and will not let popular opinion douse the ferbile worshipful fervour I have for Linda. The divine blogger, ex-model, and hearthrob of mine, has been the object of my sincere affection for as long as I don’t want to tell at the moment.

I am not ashamed that a old man like me is still single, but not seriously searching. Yes, I am not searching for a mate, for I won’t have another Queen supplant Linda as the sole object of affection in my heart. There is only just enough space for one, and Linda Ikeji has it. You must be an ignoramus if you don’t know who Linda Ikeji is. Even folks from outer space know who My Sweet Linda is: that is how famous she is. Oprah and the Queen know her, and soon, they will be standing next to her on the cover of Forbes magazine: that is how rich My Sweet Linda is.

Men of little faith feel intimidated by the wealth and fame of such women as Oprah Winfrey and Linda Ikeji, but not me. I respect women, I adore Oprah, and I love, love, love Linda. Last Valentine season, and the previous one, and the one before that, I wrote Linda a traditional Love Letter, signed it off lovingly, stamped my kiss on it, addressed it to Linda Ikeji with affections, and mailed it to the Castle were she is locked away from the world of lust men. I am sure Everybody Who Hates Chris have conspired to confiscate that Love Letter, because I never got her feedback on it.

This Valentine, I am sending her a bouquet of Dozen Red Roses. (I will get them Garden Fresh Red Roses, even if I go broke for it) with a note that will read:

Sweetheart, some men may be intimidated by your success, or sceptical about your singlehood, but I am attracted to you. Be My Val!

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

AZONTO: IN THE SPIRIT OF DAVID

Now we have evolved to doing The Azonto in church. It is remarkable. In my Church, we have really come a long way as a parish. I can recall in glaring details those days when we used to dig Odogwu in Church. In those days, at our St Patrick’s out-station of St Andrew’s, we would always find excuse to strap-on or lace-up our dancing shoes or sandals, and really jiggy-jiggy to sounds of instruments-vocal blend of rapturous music. Sometimes, hymns veer out of chord and take on the notes of wild unrestrained jubilation, as the spirit leads. Oh, how much the spirits led us in those days. Now, we are a parish in our own right and everything is sublimely distilled into Azonto.

We did not just up and jump from digging Odogwu onto doing The Azonto without some evolutionary gravitation. We got to The Azonto in stages and phases, much like the life cycle of a mosquito or butterfly. We were digging Makosa- Holy Makosa- at a time. In those days, when we broke away as St Andrew’s, a new Parish independent from St Patrick’s we were at liberty to factor in on trends. We even composed our holy brand of Awilo Longoba, (perfect music for the Makosa). In those days, everyone from the clergy to the laity would factor into the Spirit-of-David Mode, and wiggle well-well to Makosa rhythms. If you were worshipping with us and you don’t do the Makosa, the penitent would distance you, for you may be possessed of the Devil. Those who were more proficient in stepping in the name of the lord were thought of to be the holiest of the holies. Well, I managed to maintain my holiness until Yahooze came along. Now it is Azonto.

Yahooze was the dance of the blessed. The blessed were parishioners wey “don hammer”, especially those ridding in a Hummer. Everyone have the faith of “soon-to-hammer”, because the priest would always prophesy during offering collection that “by this time next year, you will be ridding in your own Hummers” and everyone would be seized in a holy ghost-induce feverish fervour and scream “AMEN!” In those days, you were shut out as a Oh-Ye-Of-Little-Faith” if you won’t dance the Yahooze step. At St. Andrew’s, we danced Yahooze to every sound of music, even the militant marching hymn of “Onward Christian Soldier”. But here we are, who would have thought that we would here, doing our Azonto.

We have come a long way, the African Church. Although, still tightly secured to the apron-strings of the Mother Church in Rome- The Vatican- I am sure they don’t dance in St Peter’s Square. Maybe they do it in the same crypt were they hide the codex and every other thing independent, Free, and True.

Dance- any form- sublime, or wild and free is very much the expression of our essence and Liberty as Brave and Free and illuminated. I have been to the Osun Oshogbo Festival in the West of Nigeria, and I saw the Dance of The illuminated. I have been to a Iri Igi in the East and I saw the Dance of the Brave; I have witnessed, also, the Dance of the Free at the Argungu Festival up North of the Country; Down her in the South of this great country, the tribes do the steps that showcase the craftmastership of Our Maker.

We are all God’s Children, we the African church, for we are in Christ, and in Christ there is liberty. Maybe my superstar brother D’Banj will come up with the next dance step with his trending Top Of The World track

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

COKE OR PEPSI: YOUR CHOICE CAN BE DEADLY

Between Coca-Cola, and Pepsi Cola, what great difference is there? the name, and the prestige that goes with the brand name is the be-all that influence a consumer’s choice. But would you kill another person over your choice of brand? I guess not. But I almost did. I almost got a poor lady killed over my indecision between Pepsi and Coke.

I guess I was too thirsty to think very straight. Do you know you can die more quickly from thirst than from hunger? It is a scary realisation. So to prevent death- my death- I thought well to fix the thirst. Now none of the soft drinks makers have had the good sense to adopt the this line: “FIX THE THIRST, Neither the makers of Coke, nor the makers of Pepsi. But I had to fix that thirst with a bottled water when the red and white label of the Coke plastic bottle caught my attention. A voice sounding still and small whispered to me, even as noisy as the Mile 2 area was, I heard the voice distinctly say “this is not a thirst you can quench with just water”. I said “give me coke” and as I reached for the Plastic-bottle-packed dark liquid, it moved sharply away, out of my reach and out of my sight. A big noisy truck zoomed past, blaring its horn very loudly and leaving thick black smoke in its wake. And my thirst spiked dangerously. I was in danger, or it was a mirage.

In a jiffy, the hawker was back, with the assorted collection of drinks gathered together with big blocks of ice, in a basin and perched on her head. A chilled-looking plastic bottle of Coke in her hand thrusting it through the bus’s window at my face saying “coke na one twenty oga, oya e shey kia!”. Coke is one hundred and twenty Naira, I know, and I was as in haste to have a drink as she was to make a sale, why was she hurrying me? But I didn’t want a Coke no more. There, inside the basin on her head, half buried by the a chunk of ice and bottles of Fanta, Sprite, Mirinda, mountain Dew and cans of Amstel Malta was a plastic bottle of Pepsi. Good Old Thirst-Busting Pepsi, My Mummy’s all-Time Favourite, and my adopted choice. I wanted a Pepsi. She suddenly withdrew the Coke she was poking at my face, and disappeared from my view together with the collection of ice-cooled soft drinks she carried on her head.

It was a moment before she came back to my side of the window. Two Danfos had zoomed past side-by-side, swerving about as if they were trying to knock each other out of the road; they were closely followed by a siren blaring bullion van, and that too was followed by a blue pick up van with a handful of kobokos wielding and riffle-brandishing policemen hanging unto its rails. My throat was a notch or two more perched, but my attention was briefly taken away from my debilitating taste: the fat lady sitting to my right, whose weight was actually grinding me hard against the bus’s window to my left was saying: “ahaa, oga buy wetin you want buy na, before you go let motor jam the poor woman”. The challenge was picked up by one baba sitting right behind me: “Don’t mind him, the youth of this generation, they never decide. In my days….blah… blah… blah… blah… blah. A female voice that must belong to a very young lady, from somewhere in the bus was tongue-lashing the Baba… Soon the rising crescendo of their querulous voices were drowned out by the loud coughing and belching sound of the rickety bus as it pulled out of the bus stop and under way.

There, was the hawker running beside the bus, by my window with the heavy basin bouncing on her head. She was stretching a bottle of pepsi at me. I couldn’t see any Coke now, and I was sure Coke was what I wanted for the thirst. I shook my head and pointed at her bouncing basin. Promptly, the bottle of Pepsi disappeared and it its place was a turgid sachet of pure water. She looked pathetic chasing that bus to clinch a sale . I thought it decent to put her out of her misery before a speeding vehicle knocked her down and add to my load of karma. I took the pure water off her hand.

The sachet of water felt cool like the real thing. Cool to the touch and reassuring like a cool spring in the middle of a desert must feel. The bluish print on the package read Holy Michael Pure Table Water. I should pay for the water, even if I wasn’t a pure water person. But as hard as I tried, I couldn’t get the money out of the hip pocket of my jean. The bus was swiftly gathering momentum as it sped along the expressway. The jogging image of the soft drinks hawker have started to recede from my view, I still couldn’t get the money to pay out of my jeans pocket. That made the decision for me. I returned the sachet of pure water, thinking I will buy either a Pepsi or a coke at the next bus stop of when we inevitably get stuck in a traffic. I threw the packaged water out the window. I’m sure the struggling lady would have caught it adroitly if that reckless Okada hadn’t cut her off , nearly running her over. The water landed on the heated hard tarmac and exploded, shooting a million droplets of water everywhere.

There she was, screaming something at the bus as we left her, fuming behind in a puff of Molue exhaust fumes, giving somebody: the bus, the driver or me the finger- all five fingers of one hand. The same hand that had shortly been outstretched for her money.

I hear severe thirst can make a person go mad. The same kind of madness that make you see things that are not. A mirage. Such things as Coke, Pepsi, even pure water are made as life-savers against thirst. But then, there are great varieties to chose from. You can also chose to die of thirst by failing to chose Coke, Pepsi or Pure water. I made my choice. But I never got to quench taste till I got home and helped my self from the tap at the kitchen sink. It felt cool, though warm and metallic, and abhorrent.

1000 WAYS TO DIE AND A KISS OF DEATH.

Before now, I have strictly admonished myself to never tell the tale of what transpired that night. The night I found out death was a woman. I came within kissing-distance of her. I was so close to death I practically smelt the stench of her putrid breathe, and gazed into the dark abyss of her eyes- beautiful eyes they were. To say it was sheer accident, is to make an excuse for my deed that near-fatal night in February. The memory of the traumatic experience have long been pushed back down, the deep dark end of my mind. Television, today, helped exhume the rotting bones to daylight.

It is a story that will earn me reproach from friends, family and haters. Telling the story of the night I romanced with death will afford me nothing more substantial than remorse and self-recrimination. I had every motivation to relieve myself of the memory, if for nothing, but to spite my detractors, but I had resisted the urge, sheerly to spite Death- the prime enemy.

Television-Watching, as well as writing, is therapeutic for me. I was watching 1000 Ways To Die on Sony Max. I like Sony Max for its satirical portrayal of the human condition. The ridiculously cynical manner that TV Channel presents its programmes is cathartic in the least. Catharsis works for me because it helps me hang loose and free. Now 1000 Ways To Die is one of such catharsis. The programme is a true-to-life re-enacted episodes of how various people have come to their end through preventable accidents. If I have learnt any lesson from TV, it is that most accidents are preventable. Sony Max taught me that. And in that programme, I drew a parallel with the near fatal accident I had that night in February 2012. An Okada accident.

I totally recall that incident: the time was the Lagos-madrush hours of 1900-2100 HRS, when commuters make a last ditch in their forlorn efforts to beat the traffic jam that had accumulated since 1600 HRS. I was madly rushing home to my favourite reality TV. I was the passenger, and an “Aboki” was the rider. We were speeding down the wrong lane to beat the traffic jam on Lagos-Badagry Expressway. A SUV, driven by a be-spetacled, motherly-looking lady, swerved our way in the bid to overtake the preceding recalcitrant danfo that had slowed down to take on passengers, she hit my Okada head-on.

I saw the moment of impact as a photo-finish snapshot. And then in slo-mo, I was gliding through space. The world was beneath me. The twinkling stars were looming larger than I have ever seen them. The disorientating silence, the surrealistic weightlessness, the panoramic view of everything bright and beautiful, great and small. The time warp lasted for a moment in which I saw the film of my whole life reel out. Then a bone-shattering thud; at the life-quenching impact as I reconnected with earth. Merciful darkness quickly embraced me; and that was me, or what had been my body, sprawled on the tarmac, facing heaven.

I have been warned against Aboki Okada, and I had sworn to My Dear Mama to never board an Aboki Okada in Lagos. When I asked her ‘why not?’ she said a prophet said so. I respect My Mama’s exhortations, especially when backed with scriptures, or “prophet said so”. And then, I was about to meet my maker and account for my sin of disobedience. But God was merciful.

The Sony Max 1000 Ways To Die episode that sparked off this memory was the one tagged “Die Jump” a parody of “High Jump”. It was the scene of an audition for sports commercial. The model had been trying very hard to please the agent. She had to pass a high jump trial and she easily cleared the 6 feet high bar. But unfortunately she missed the cushion and landed on her spine on the hard ground. For a moment I thought she was dead on impact, but she struggled up, and assured the petrified agent that she was fine. And she looked it with a smile as broad and bright and beautiful as spring sunshine.

However, she was prancing around showing off that she was fine and ready to take on the modelling for sports wears contract, when she got ran into by another high jumper who was just about to take off. She dropped dead that instant. From the analysis of the cause of her death, it was found that she had initially sustained fractures along her spine from her unfortunate high jump. The collision with the athlete had only aggravated her injury, resulting in her death (unnecessarily). Just that one small collision was her undoing.

Lights shone on my face, there were screams that actually sounded like something from Handel’s Messiah, there was a soloist soprano yelling “jeeeezus… jeeeezus… Blood of jeeeezus… ewooooo… chineke, anun na gbu mmadu o!” And then a voice sounding still and small, buzzing in my ears, was asking “oga… Oga… Are you alrght? Wetin be your name… are you alright answer me na…Oga… Oga…?” I couldn’t see anyone, and the voice sounded like is was coming from yesterday. I soon realize that I was unhurt beyond the shattered nerve, and disorientation. I’m sure my black belt in taekwondo and brown belt in Judo had subconciously helped break my fall. The bruises on my right fore-arm was the tell-tale sign.
In those youthful exuberant days, during fights I will leap into the air land on my back, efficiently breaking the fall by using the right forearm as a shock absorber and rolling along the right shoulder to squat or stand on my feet again. I have been taught well by My Coaches. This stunt has the pragmatic effect of scaring the adversary. Sending the signal that he (mostly males) is dealing with a dirty fighter. By the ethics of Martial Arts you may not employ your acquired skills and techniques in an offensive except you need to defend yourself in dire situations. And there, the techniques has been ingrained into my sub-consciousness. It saved my life because the Okada Man was not so lucky.

When I regained sufficient amount of my shattered senses, I had resisted and turned down all offer of rescue help from the crowd that had gathered. Someone was searching my pockets, and I had prevented my cash and phones from being stolen by some dint of luck than by conscious effort.

What The Episode of 1000 WAYS TO DIE has taught me was, the unskilled attempt to rescue me could have proven fatal. I have seen it happened: a mal-handling of accident victim could cause more injuries and death than help.

That night, I had taken another Okada home. And managed to shed my stained clothes and scuffed shoes unnoticed by my family. I never breathed a whiff of what transpired to anyone, and the trauma have haunted my dreams till now. And you say Television, besides sucking your brains out, is not therapeutic?

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

MENTAL SANITATION

Set for my trip back to Gidi, but I am still here, stuck in Warri. They are having an Environmental Sanitation Exercise. I wonder if this so called sanitation exercise is having any significant effect on the minds of the people. Not as if the Warri folks are dirty literarily, they are neat in body and environment, as neat as the principles of hygiene goes. But the amount of psycho-social waste that goes on in this oil-tainted Sin City calls for a emergency measure.

In Lagos, though a Sin City too, the Lagos Waste Management Authority is doing its damnedest to clear the gutters, and streets of waste, but it is all they could do to take the city back from discarded “pure water” polythene packaging. But there remains the menace of destitutes, beggars, agberus, and litter-bugs. But in Warri, you will think that, as in Lagos, the fight is against pure water poly-packaging, but no, the drainages are mostly clogged with used condoms, empty cans and bottles of liquor; and the streets littered with unkempt kids, brigands, and prostitutes.

The focus of sanitation, should be shifted from the environment to the mind. Environmental sanitation in any Sin City is a strife for mind over matter. One cannot shy from the looming truth that Man, if you change the Man you change his world, although a pig cannot be purified by ablution. Well, I wait for the window-dressing to be over so I may be on my merry way to the very Center of Excellence.

Maximum respect to the following excellent individuals: Bros Eghosa Imasuen, a clean mind, and neat individual for a Medical Doctor and author; To My General, Bros Akpobomemerere Ajuyonta Alleluya alias Ali Baba; To I Go Die, I Go Save, Gordons, Gandoki, may all your laughter never cease; To the delectable Edirin Okumagba; Ladies Love Big Bros RMD, and Biggest Bros, James Onanefe Ibori, and everyone on this planet who calls Warri home, may your temper never get hot enough to cook yam.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.