Monthly Archives: May 2018

Behind the wheels

I love to drive (well, when the roads are free and not pothole ridden). Anytime someone drives in a way that lacks decorum and I hear “na woman” or “na only woman go drive like that”; I always feel slighted. I am like “what do you mean?” “Is it only women that drive that way?” When we eventually sight the driver and it happens to be a man, I usually feel vindicated.

However, in the last few weeks, I have had course to see a number of women drive without decorum. Women refusing to let others pass through even when they can see that the road they intend to navigate is blocked. In one instance, a woman parked her car right in the middle of the street and left it to only God knows where. Drivers going in and out of the street could not do so and a number of them cursed and even attempted to deflate her tyres.

The men also have their fair share of lack of decorum while driving as this attitude is not restricted to the women alone. For men, it is more of an “ego” thing. Most feel that if they let the other driver have his way, they would be seen as “not man enough”. Therefore, you see handsome men behind the steering struggling with themselves or with a danfo driver. Most times, such situations result in a “you don hit my car” later on; which could have been avoided by a “let my people go” attitude.

One thing I have however noticed is that staff bus drivers (mostly men) have this unspoken brotherly code even when they have never met each other.  I am yet to see a staff bus driver struggling with another staff bus driver over right of way. Sometimes, you see a driver “flash” another staff bus driver to take a position ahead of him.

It cannot be that the staff bus drivers are scared of losing their jobs. I would expect that to also apply to drivers of private vehicles as well. But these private drivers are also known to drive recklessly especially when their bosses are not in the car to caution them.

So what makes the difference? Why are most staff bus drivers sane behind the wheels? Why do most men and women who drive do so aggressively as if there is a contest on the road?

I really do wonder.

——

Photo Credit: http://www.allowme.ng

One Last Chance

Lekan took one last look round his room. The room had one window opening. A tattered wrapper which was torn in so many places was used as a cover from the prying eyes of neighbours. A kerosene stove stood on the left side of the room but it was obvious that it had not been in use for a long time. A pair of trousers, four shirts and two ties hung on the wall above a flat mattress which looked more like a pieces of foam cut together. He should have returned the ties to Wale by now; he thought. He was sure Wale would come get it later; that is if he decided to. He shrugged.

A brown bucket with a broken handle was placed beside the door. A bar soap lay inside a native sponge in the bucket. The green soap was both a bathing and a washing soap.

He sighed as he looked at the small ziploc bag for medication in his hands. Ten white tablets sat in it, waiting to be consumed. He had borrowed some money from his neighbour and told him he would return it at the end of the month. With the look his neighbour gave him, he knew the man did not believe him; but he did not care because he knew everything was ending today.

 

He had told the man at the chemist that he could not sleep well. He avoided the pharmacy. They would ask too many questions. The chemist gave him the ten tablets and told him to take one every day for the next two weeks.  He opened the medical bag and poured all the  ten tablets into his hand. If only the man knew his intention, he thought as he took a deep breath.

He took out the sachet of whiskey he had kept under his mattress and looked at it. He had never taken alcohol before and he wondered how this would taste. He used his teeth to tear it open, threw all the tablets into his mouth and poured the drink down his throat. He grimaced as he swallowed. He downed a cup of water to help push the contents down.

Now, he only needed to lie down and wait.

******

Wale had this sudden urge to open Lekan’s email account. Lekan had opened it at a business centre after their graduation from the university seven years ago. He used it to send his resume to various organizations but none had called him for a test or an interview. Lekan had given him the email and password to help him check his emails from time to time in case a job offer came up. He had told him he could not afford to waste money that could be used for food at a business centre.

Wale wondered why Lekan was so unlucky. He was one of the best graduating students in the Business Administration department but life had been unfair to him. He was an orphan without siblings. He had lost his mother at birth. An aunt who had decided to take care of him after the loss of his father at the age of twelve had treated him like a slave. He had to hawk everyday to be able to eat. His aunt refused to send him to school; so he used the proceeds from his hawking to get a secondary education.

He secured admission into the University and the struggle continued. Most times, he worked through the nights at various times as a security guard, a bartender and a washman just to get a University education. He had hoped to get a good job immediately after graduation with his good grades but that eluded him as well. He had to continue doing odd jobs just to keep body and soul together. He had asked to borrow a tie from Wale whenever he wanted to write bank tests or attend interviews but Wale had decided to give him two.

Wale felt pity for him. He wasn’t one of the best in the department and he remembered meeting Lekan on so many occasions for tutorials. He had however secured a job with one of the top banks in the country immediately after they completed their National Youth Service. He had also assisted in submitting Lekan’s resume to the bank but he never got called for a test.

He knew his bank was in need of customer service agents and tellers from time to time and he had discussed the opportunity with his boss numerous times. His boss had however, refused to give Lekan a chance. He told Wale that he needed experienced hands. He felt unhappy because he knew his friend was already tending towards depression. He had paid him a visit last weekend and he could see dejection written boldly on his face.

 

He logged into Lekan’s yahoo account and the first email that stared at him was an invitation from a recruitment company asking him to visit Wale’s bank to sign a letter for a contract job as a teller. His monthly package was also stated and he was given a month to either accept or reject the offer. Wale could not believe his eyes. He did not even know that the customer service and teller jobs in his bank had been contracted out. He was so happy that he immediately put a call to Lekan. The phone rang out a number of times without response. He wondered why Lekan wasn’t picking up his calls. He looked at his wrist watch. It read 4:30p.m. In thirty minutes, he should be done for the day.

At 5:15p.m, Wale walked out of the bank. He contemplated whether to go home and change before going to Lekan’s house. He was famished and he needed to rest. He had prepared some jollof rice for himself last night and he was already dreaming about eating it with a cold bottle of coke. He put a call to Lekan again and the phone kept ringing. He eased into his blue Toyota Corolla and drove out of his office. In an hour, he was seated in front of his TV with a plate of jollof rice, chicken and a bottle of coke. He called Lekan’s phone again without success.

At 8:30p.m, Wale woke up with a start. He hadn’t realized that he had dozed off after the meal. He picked up the remote beside him and switched off the TV. He remembered he had been trying to reach Lekan and he put a call to him again. Lekan’s phone was switched off. He hissed as he thought about going to bed. He was about to go to his room when he had a strange feeling. He stopped suddenly in his tracks. He picked up his wallet and car keys, locked his door in a hurry and ran out of the house. He drove for the next forty-five minutes like a mad man as other drivers spewed expletives at him. “Oh God, oh God, let it not be what I am thinking.” He prayed as he drove.

******

Lekan had seen the first call from Wale. He wondered why Wale was calling him and he had ignored the call. When the calls became persistent, he tried to pick it up but he was already dizzy. He decided to let it ring. He didn’t need anyone’s pity right now. He wanted to go peacefully.

 

Wale burst into Lekan’s room at 9:20p.m. Lekan had not made an attempt to lock the door. Wale saw his friend lying on the mattress with a satchet of whiskey beside him. He instantly knew there was trouble as he was aware that Lekan never drank.

“Lekan, Lekan, Lekan.” He shouted shaking his friend. Lekan was still and Wale began to panic. He put his thumb under his friend’s nostrils to check if he was still breathing. He felt a faint wisp of air. He ran out of the room to seek help and bumped into the man that Lekan had borrowed money from.

“Oga, take it easy nau, haba!” The man said.

“Please help me, please.” Wale pleaded.

“Wetin?” The man sneered.

“Help me carry my friend to the car.”

“Your friend? Who be your friend? Wetin do am wey he no fit waka by himself?”

“Please just help me.” Wale begged.

“Abeg comot.” The man said pushing Wale away.

“Oh God, oh God, Lekan, please don’t die.” Wale said almost at the point of tears.

The man turned back and looked at Wale. “That jobless Lekan nah your friend? He borrow money from my hand. I go make sure say I collect my money at the end of the month.”

“He is about to die, please help me.”

“Die ke? Abeg, I need my money oh. Make e no die yet. Where he dey?”

Wale pointed towards Lekan’s room and the man rushed towards the room with Wale at his heels. The man helped Wale drag Lekan into the car. Wale sped to the nearest hospital with prayers on his lips.

******

The doctor came out of Lekan’s room an hour later with a grim face. Wale rushed towards the doctor as he asked about his friend.

“Doctor, how is he? What is wrong?”

The doctor took a deep breath. “The blood sample taken shows a high dose of a sleeping drug. There was also alcohol in his blood which is a deadly combination.”

“What does that mean doctor? Will he be fine?”

“Let’s take it one day at a time.” The doctor replied.

“I don’t understand, doctor. He is alive, right?”

“For now, but he is in a coma. Let us hope he survives it.”

Wale put his hands on his head in lamentation. “Oh God, why didn’t I get there earlier?”

“Don’t punish yourself unnecessarily.” The doctor said as he patted Wale on the back.

“Ah doctor, you won’t understand.”

The doctor gave Wale a sad smile as he walked to his office.

******

Wale kept going to the hospital every day after work. About eight days later, Lekan came out of the coma. He was a bit disoriented and had no idea of where he was or what happened to him. The doctor ran some more tests on him and referred him to see a psychologist.

“Your friend is fine and can go home now.” The doctor told Wale some days later. “He is definitely lucky. Some cases like this don’t end well. Please ensure he sees the psychologist.”

Wale nodded his answer.

 

As Wale drove Lekan to his apartment, he said a silent thanks to God for keeping his friend alive. He was going to keep an eye on him going forward. He had prepared the guest room in his apartment for his friend. Life had given both of them a second chance and he was going to try his best to make sure he did not fail this time.

——–

Photo Credit: http://www.shuttershock.com

Lagos madness

It was a Friday. A family event was taking place that evening. I asked for permission to close an hour earlier to be able to participate in the event. 5:00pm, I drove out of my office on Awolowo road, Ikoyi. I should be home in two hours, I said to myself.

The traffic on third mainland bridge snaked all the way from the beginning to the tail end and I began to wonder if I would still make the journey in two hours. 7:00pm, I arrived at Bolade in Oshodi. I did a mental calculation. In an hour, I should get to Iyana-Ipaja.

8:00pm, I was still at Bolade. 9:00pm came and met me right on the same spot at Bolade, Oshodi. It had rained earlier that day and for those who understand Lagos; rain and Lagos roads are like sworn enemies. I was extremely tired and my feet were hurting. Driving a manual car in traffic a’int attractive. Movement was at snail speed and I kept switching off and switching on the engine to ease the stress on my feet.

In my tired state and my feet on the brake pedal, I lost traction and bumped into the car ahead of me. Oh Lord, not now; I thought. A man stepped out of the car. He looked at me and bent to look at his bumper. I tried to signal an apology to him but the man just turned and went back to sit in his car. I guess he was too tired to get into an argument. I immediately switched off the engine to avoid a recurrence.

“Hello ma’am, you look extremely tired. Can I join you and keep you company?” A guy who had been standing at the bus-stop with other passengers as they awaited a bus asked. I looked at him; a total stranger but at that point I needed company to stay awake.

I unlocked the passenger door and he eased into the car. He introduced himself and started talking about the traffic situation and various issues. I listened and his conversation kept me awake.

At about 10:30pm, some army men emerged from God knows where and decided to help our situation. They began to pass traffic and as we moved forward, we realized that some cars going towards Oshodi had decided to face oncoming traffic; thereby causing the total lock down.

As usual in Lagos traffic, immediately the army men passed their vehicle out of the traffic, they zoomed off leaving the rest of us to our fate. Moving ahead became a survival of the fittest game. Thankfully, I scaled through without a scratch. I got to the GRA Ikeja junction and we saw traffic still ahead of us. At this time of the night, I thought as I shook my head. I wondered if I should go ahead or make a detour. My new found friend asked what my intention was. After 3 hours on one spot, I was not ready for another long wait.

I turned into GRA Ikeja and manuveured my way through to Oba Akran through Mobolaji Bank Anthony way. It was a smooth drive and I was glad I took that decision. Driving out of Oba Akran, I decided to pass the inner Dopemu road parallel to the Lagos-Abeokuta express way. As we went on, we could see the tail lights of cars in slow movement on the express way. I smiled as I congratulated myself on the smart move. I dropped off my new found friend at his bus-stop which was on my way home and he was full of thanks. I was more thankful because his conversation actually helped me stay awake on the steering.

I arrived home at a quarter to midnight. The celebrator for whom I had closed from the office one hour earlier was already sleeping peacefully in bed.

——

Photo Credit: http://www.ABC7.com

Forest living

I attended a secondary school that was surrounded by thick forests on three sides with no fences. The fourth side which was the school gate had farmlands opposite the school . The school was a natural habitat for rats, snakes (mambas and pythons), scorpions, beetles, crickets, millipedes, centipedes, soldier ants and termites.

I remember the day I was almost bitten by a scorpion. I was walking towards the back of the hostel after dinner with my friends to go shot-put. It was dark and I was carrying a lantern with me. As we were gisting and heading towards our mission, for some strange reason, I decided to take a step back. I turned the lantern towards the ground and right in front of me, where I was just about to place my feet was a scorpion with its sting facing up. I was terrified.

A black snake also fell on my shoulder in another incident. I even remember a student doing his morning duty of sweeping the administrative block when he felt a huge stone fall on his head. He assumed a friend was playing pranks and looked up but saw no one. Another look at the ground revealed that a snake had been the culprit.

A room mate packed her clothes which she had dried on the grass outside the hostel and carried a snake with the clothes. If I ever had any intention of drying my clothes on the grass; which I never did because of beetles and crickets, the incident that evening in my room ended such thought.

A senior boy once killed a large python and carried it on his shoulders like it was an award. A green snake which I assumed was a mamba slithered out of the field right in front of my friends and I when we were going for an afternoon prep.

Rats had a party running around in my hostel and also eating students feet. This happened mostly to students who went to bed with dirty feet. Students took joy in killing them but they gave the rodents a slow and tortuous death. The rats were caught and their tails were burnt in a lantern. Next, students put their whiskers into the lantern. It was funny hearing the cries of a rat. Trust me, their cries warned all other rats to stay away and for the next few weeks, we saw no rats in the hostel.

At night, after lights out, we often heard the cries of foxes in the forest. Their barks and cries were so loud on some days that we almost felt like they were right behind our room.

Different students had encounters with soldier ants and termites as they walked into their long armies. I learnt early to always look on the ground while walking to avoid becoming a victim.

A classmate had a weird liking for millipedes and she picked them up every time she saw one and caressed them like a baby……ewwww.

I look back today and I still wonder; how did we survive living in the midst of all these?

——
Photo Credit: http://www.canstock.com