Getting into a public transport in Lagos without enough change is something I usually avoid, except in cases when I do not have any alternative. This was borne out of several experiences with the ‘notorious’ bus conductors who would go as far as hurling insults at whomever for the slightest reason.
This day was one of the few times when I had no alternative but to get on board with my ‘big’ denomination. The bus driver, appearing to be a well presented man who probably had a family and was saddled with a lot of responsibilities or who at some point had a good job but lost it.
He rained curses on his ‘assistant’ at the slightest provocation which were only evidences of his bitterness for the nation, it’s economy and his life, while the latter tried in his best to meet up to his bosses pace. The bone of contention was that too many people like myself had dropped the ‘high’ denominations and the conductor took longer than necessary at each stop to find the aggrieved ‘change. ’A woman with baby on her back and another whom she urged to get into the bus in good time before the driver moved, sat just behind me.
She appeared to be one of those women, married and burdened with the responsibility of taking care of her children and neglected by a husband who would rather dress up like he had some important places to go in the morning,if only to prove to his wife and neighbors that he was up to the task but only to return home in the evenings with lost hopes.
Such women had the churches as their place of solace and their Pastor the role model husband and counsellor who would allay their fears and take them on rounds of unending prayers with groaning and gnashing of teeth in hope that the Supreme being would soon come to their aid and turn things around in a flash. The Pastor’s wife to them was the luckiest woman on earth since they were disadvantaged in having good husbands. Even though they hailed her from time to time ‘Mummy G.O’, silently they bore some envy hoping fate would turn their situation around and have them in ‘Mama G.O’s’ position.
So it turned that myself and this woman who did not stop complaining of how she was running late for evening service, appeared to be those left of the rest of the passengersto face the fiery dart of the fuming driver and the conductor who now protested his bosses’ unfair treatment to him.
As it appeared, we sat still while both parties exchanged curses over our heads. As this woman made to alight, she sent back the curses to the driver seeing this was now her opportunity and physically rubbed her children like the curse had come off with the drivers saliva and stuck to their skin.Seeing I was the only one left, I joined in the woman’s protection mechanism and wiped my skin off the supposed curses mumbling my own prayers as the woman did over her children.