It was just like every other Friday, eleventh day of October, 2019. Only that that week was the customers’ service week tagged: The Magic of Service. Our Organisation decided to celebrate the week on Friday with a little get together. The dress code was a touch of red. I have not many red attires. I do have a gown with red stripes though. It was more like I wore red. It wasn’t really a touch of. But hey, I looked good.
By few minutes past four, the get together started. I had decided to leave by 5pm. I would not want to be caught up in Lagos traffic.
As part of my organisation’s culture, new staff would dance in presence of everybody. Yours sincerely is just a month plus old in the organisation. Ahhhhhh… Me! The worst dancer in the universe! Well, as expected, I flopped woefully. The thing about dancing is this, it is not my natural strength. I dance most in church.Even at that, I am still bad at it. Worse will be when you tell me to dance. Oh my! I just loose even the small dancing ability in me.
By 5:25pm, I got up to pick my bag. You see, I didn’t keep to my 5pm plan. Well, well,it is just a once in a while get together.
I usually follow the staff bus. It is expected to take off by 5:05pm. I figured it won’t be going that day because of the get together. I decided to find my way. By to 6pm, I was out of the office, trekking to the BRT bus park. It was a really long queue. If you know me, you will know I don’t jump queues. So, I joined the queue. I was on heels. I didn’t change to my flat. I didn’t expect the bus to take long. But I got the shocker, when for more than thirty minutes, I was still standing.
I called a colleague of mine who we normally go home together. He had left in the bus. The bus! And I thought it was not going that day. To think that I had to leave before the party ended just to make it home on time. Those that I left behind had gone ahead of me. Aye mi o! Village people! Who did I offend?
By few minutes to 7pm, a bus pulled by. Actually, buses had come before then. They were either going to Berger or the one going to Oshodi which was my destination was full. Remember, I saw a long queue. It was on a first come first serve basis.
Finally, I boarded the bus. Typical of BRTs, it was cold. Anyhow sha. That is the usual thing we go through. That was the beginning of our ordeal. Hmmmm…
Usually, from Leventis to Oshodi is about 40mins. When the traffic jam began, I remember a lady making a statement that we were going to spend three hours. That can make one roll her eyes but again, this is Lagos. Anything can happen. We ended up spending two hours or so.
Thank God for BRTs which have charging ports now. I decided to watch the Mount Zion movie I had downloaded on YouTube- Shackles. You should watch it.
The traffic situation was so terrible. It was like a foot drag. We got to Oshodi by to 9pm. Finally! I am sure those going from one state to the other would have forgotten they traveled. Rolling my eyes. This Lagos City.
I trekked to Oshodi bus stop. There were many people still waiting to get to their destinations. One would have thought that by that time, the traffic situation would have reduced. Sighs. Buses were not forth coming. The ones that passed were either full or not going to my destination. I decided to try the available option- bike! It was a harvest day for the bike guys. Their prices were off the roof. The first one I bargained with said he would take 600 Naira to Iyana Ipaja. I could not afford that. Well, so I thought. I did not want to get to Iyana Ipaja and be stranded. Again, I thought the price would reduce with time. How wrong I was! It increased the more. By the time I calculated my fare and found out that I could have been able to afford 600 Naira, the fare had increased to 800 Naira. Wow!!! All pleadings fell on deaf ears. I thought of calling my cousin at least to inform him of the situation. I found out I was not having airtime. I didn’t want to be with my phone for long. Na Oshodi I dey o. So, I didn’t buy airtime. I thought to call him when on the bus.
By to 10pm, a bus pulled by. The conductor said 300 naira to Egbeda- the fairest fare so far for that night. Others that came before him were saying 400 or 500. I quickly entered; an opportunity I could not afford to miss.
We settled in and the driver drove off. I sat at the back seat. We had not even driven 10mins when we got stuck in traffic. I think it was when we got to Ladipo. It was more of a stand still than snail pace. By then, my mum was already calling me. Oh my mum! She is a story for another day. So much for being an only child. My aunties also joined in the call. ‘Where are you?’ How many questions and shouting can a young lady take? When my cousin(I stay with him) called by 11: 40pm. I told him where I was. I even told him that I won’t be coming home that day. I mean, it was almost midnight and I had not even got to Egbeda, let alone Igando which is my final destination. From my bus stop, I still will need to get a bike home. And only a miracle would provide a bike by past midnight. I just made up my mind to enter a church. It was Friday and some churches did vigil. That was my perfect escape route.
At some point, I had to switch off my phone. My mum and aunties would not let me rest. One of them even said I was going to leave the job by Monday. Job ke? For this Lagos? Well the distance isn’t encouraging. But then we manage.
By now, everyone in the bus had accepted their fate. Perhaps, also thinking up thoughts of where they would spend the night or how they will get home. It was 11:59pm, we still had not got to Egbeda. As comic relief, I said “Greet your neighbour good morning o.” There was response to that effect and the fact that it was morning already. By then, the traffic was flowing much better. and we were getting close. People were already alighting. At Akowonjo, a passenger entered. He was tall and had a nylon bag with him. He was eating bread from it. The guys at the back with me joked with him to come sit at the back, so he could share with them. He was wearing a long jalamia and had a cap on. He settled down and the journey continued. I really can’t remember if he was the only passenger that entered though. As we journeyed, suddenly, someone poured water on us from outside. Na wa o. Nothing person no go see for Lagos o. The tall guy said that perhaps they wanted to steal from the guy at the window but could not. Hence, their anger. Nonsense and ingredient.
The long journey to freedom finally came to an end. People began to alight from the bus. Everyone went their way and I followed, not so sure of my destination.
I had remembered a CAC Church along Egbeda Rd I know. That was the church on my mind. I began to walk down. There were still people around. Some doing their businesses while others were like me. This Lagos City doesn’t sleep. Initially, it was bright and I walked with confidence. As I continued walking, it began to get darker. There was no light anymore as I progressed. If I didn’t die that day, only old age will kill me in Jesus name. As I walked, a guy was coming from the adjacent end trying to approach the pavement that divides the road. He called out to me. I didn’t respond. He kept on his way while I kept on mine. A jeep drove by and dropped off a woman. I thought of meeting her for help. She however crossed to the other side. It was still dark but I kept walking, then I started running…
To be continued…
Get ready for the final episode of: I slept in a stranger’s house.