LAGOS IS A COUNTRY

Work continues tomorrow. One must be up by 4 am. X looks out through the window at a Pepsi.

A heavily turbaned man enters and seats right in front of X. It’s a view-blocking turban. The bus continues to move again but not for too long. It gets stuck in a traffic jam, again. Some noise arises from someone seated in front. It’s a view-blocking turban so X can’t correctly figure out the perpetrator. Soon, a woman’s voice rises and takes over. She keeps yelling at the bus conductor. Something about the poor state of the naira notes she was given as change. She hurls expletives rapidly at the poor boy whose response does nothing but to further incense her, almost tipping her into a stammer.

Nobody, not even the bus driver, is paying either of them attention or so it seems until Turban attempts to pacify the more volatile of the duo: the woman.

It’s the month of fasting, the month of holiness apparently and he appears to be a cleric: an imam or so his four-inch goatee seems to tell. He’s a wise man; he tells the woman that the bus conductor is just like a son to her, that she should consider his actions exuberant: the actions of a butterfly who thinks itself a bird…She latches onto his first few words with an air of justification, wags a studded finger at the conductor and yells:

If my last child, whom this stupid boy can’t be older than, dared what this conductor just did I would dish him a dirty-stinking backhand slap, one that would turn him deaf in both ears.

Turban, wise indeed, lets go of a Yoruba proverb:

Àgbà tí ò bínú lomo ré n pòsi. Ìyá wa e fiyè dénú (Our mother, temper justice with mercy. He is loved by many, the elder who subdues his rage)

With this entreaty, the woman’s soaring voice gradually peters out. Quiet returns to the bus. Until the bus conductor who’d largely been the less noisy of the two starts to grumble increasingly, something about him not being able to fathom how shameless elders abound everywhere in Lagos these days.

Hey! hey! gbé enu e dáké níbèyen o! (Hey! hey! shut your trap right there o!)

Turban quickly yells at him, just in time to stop the woman from starting another tirade. He obeys promptly.

X sighs. It’s 9.26 pm.

Home is still a few kilometers away. The traffic jam stays jammed.