The Moon and the Shadows
It was not the conventional tea spillage, picking up the books knocked by some other guy kind of love story, this is entirely a different kind of fate dictating twist of events.
It all started on a bright and very sunny day. I was running late and considering the infamous Lagos traffic and how many connecting busses a yet to boom Bachelorette like me had to take was quite frustrating. I didn't live close to my work place or this particular work place. I had just fully started my career so I was allowing everything go at their own pace so I wouldn't have to injure myself by too much worries.
"Along, Cement, Iyana Ipaja!" several bus conductors were shouting at the top of their voices. On other days I would have gone for the one with the lowest bid but I was too behind schedule to even try to walk to the next one to the nearest one to me. It was so jam-packed but I had to settle in, I was carrying the loads that only the owner of a functional car should carry, I silently prayed I should not lost even the smallest needle before I got to where I was going. The woman to my right won't stop grimacing at her two identical daughters, they were standing in the space between our seat and that of the driver which was the island that separated him from the rest of the world tightly packed in his bus. I wish I could help the lovely kids by having them sit on my laps but it was a daring task, my laps were already full with the loads I was carrying. I checked the big bags to make sure I was just running late and not in another forget-something wahala. One of the girls, the fairer one in a fading large flowers yellow African print frock snuffed and decided to wipe the remaining stubborn mucus that refused to go back in her nostrils with the back of her hand. A fat and flat slap hit her across the face, "ai don tel u sey mek u no dey deti de and wey u dey tek chop...," the young girl's name was Chima as I later got to know when they alighted at Oshodi under-bridge. The woman kicked the other one who was slow getting down and hit the head of Chima with the basketful of fruits that she was carrying on her laps. I wondered why most poor parents in Nigeria and probably somewhere else in the world would take out their pangs of poverty on their innocent offsprings, the children who they, at the realization of their unthoughtfulness were reasons for slowing their hustle, making their sweaty goats skin under or totally not praised because of the smaller chunks of hustle payout the children are thought to consume - of course, these parents feel the children took more. "ef no tu sey ai geh mor dan wan pikin, ai for don biud aous. " A good number for of them said similar things as this for people to know their kids were really taking much out of their income. Truth was, the kids were not to blame, we all know this but the poor and unreasonable parents thought otherwise. And it was shameful. I shuddered at the end of the thought, life was miserable already, the most convenient things parents could do for their children was to make it less painful by truly loving their children. I hit the woman hard on the back with my eyes and in my mind, pity she didn't see me. "Oya Along, mowo jade o, I don't have shainge o," that was the conductor, a typical Ondo or Ekiti man judging by his pronunciation of 'change, ' which should even be called 'balance' in the first place, but we lived in our own English Language World and most literates freely threw around these established errors in the borrowed or now adopted language of the foreign man.
Since I moved to Lagos, even before then, I had always held my fare in my hand, their rush-rush kind of lifestyle and past bad experiences of conductors carting away with my money on the grounds of "it's a fast world" had taught me that lesson. Today, however, I was unable to search through my bedroom to look for 'change' for the sake of convenience and avoidance of insult and top it all, wasting of my time as a result of being tied with another passenger, darling, that is Lagos for you. I squeezed the two hundred naira note I was holding in his engine oil stained palm, he stretched it and continued in his duty of collection of fares without passing the faintest signal that I had 'change' with him and would be paid. I looked through the window, we were very close to Ikeja, "oga gev mi mai shaing o, na de nes bos stop ai go stop." he gave me a look that spelt I should or must be out of my mind for asking for my 'own' money. That was the goddamn fifty naira I planned to use in getting to Allen! "Oga..." I pressed again, this time, just casually. "ewo! MI o ni Shainge fun anybody ninu oko yi o, MO ti warn everybody ke to wole, enter with your Shainge ni mo so o," he responded to my agitation by addressing other people in my shoes. "Ikeja, ko maa mura lati drop o," I was baffled, I was guilty for getting on the bus with my two hundred naira note in the first place but I thought it was the closest to my easily accessible balance, which was fifty naira, which several passengers have paid him with. These people were just impossible.
After several sincere funny apologies he decided to join me with another passenger, the closest to me from the back, a Mallam. That was the only dependable 'change' which I planned using to get to my last destination. I rolled my eyes and accepted the cruel fate being developed right before my korokoro eyes. The Mallam soon brought out his wallet which was in his back pocket and brought out several notes of fifty naira, I wondered what he did that gave him access to such plenty notes of the currency but that was the least of my worries, getting to my destination before the others topped my list of worries. He gave me the money and returned the wallet as we both tried to get off the bus, it would have been a malevolent act for him to help the conductor break some high currencies with the low ones he had, within two minutes, I found out why as the man groped for his walk stick and it dawned on me that he got the money from his daily or almost daily work - he couldn't walk without the support of a stick. Another heart warming event here on the bus on just a single trip. I was just to flag a maruwa (tricycle) going towards Allen when I heard a loud shout from behind. I turned, what I saw shattered my heart.