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Mr Conductor

They always say that if you can live in Lagos, you can live anywhere. The reason cannot be farfetched-it is difficult to live in Lagos. As I hurried with my niece to join the Yaba bus one afternoon,I couldn’t tell that trouble awaits,there wasn’t enough time to breath how much more see the face of the “conductor”. This bus only takes us to the park where we would get a bus home; and it was almost 4pm, the time when “the world” seems to be going our direction, the thought of the traffic alone, the heat from the floor of dilapidated buses would turn one’s leg into “boli” it was no wonder we were in a hurry. We settled into the bus and sat down at the back beside two young guys. Five minutes later,it was time to pay the conductor, as I scurried through my purse I realised I only had a N500 note and N95 for this N100 trip for both of us. And seeing that he was already rude to people up front of the bus over something I couldn’t make any sense of, I put a halt straight away to the thought of paying him the N95. It finally got to my turn to pay, I paid and waited a little longer till he gave me my balance. Then, I saw that the N100 note in the money he gave me was weak and torn. I called his attention severally all to no avail, as it seemed like he already knew what he had done and was avoiding me. I called again,this time louder, I was sure I was no longer shy from being stared at by any of the young guys and girls like me in the bus. He then answered, “mi ni mi”,he said. And I got somewhat upset,why in God’s name would he say that to me? I just decided to stay calm and profer a solution. I told him to bring the N500 and that I had a N100 to give. He didn’t answer me. It seemed like I was talking to myself. I called at him again,”oga,bring the N500 and take N100″. He still kept mute and this time threw his face away. It made me feel stupid. What was worse was that unlike the usual Lagosians you meet in buses that’d interfere when something is going wrong between the conductor and a passenger, no one said anything,not even the driver. I was really hoping on that, to save the day. Was I the only one seeing that this conductor just thinks he can do anything he likes to anyone? I got angry. I decided to change seats to be closer to him,so he won’t have any excuse not to have answered me, and to possibly tap him if he decides to act like I was invisible again, because I was close to my bus stop and when you get to your bus stop In Lagos and you don’t come down, the driver would zoom off. He started to mutter a lot of nonsense. In his opinion,someone paid him the money,if he could collect the money from someone why won’t I? And then with the last pint of sanity in me I was explaining to him in pidgin that there was no need to dwell on that,and that he should just give me back the N500 and collect a N100. He blatantly refused. And then the bus got to my bus stop and I didn’t get out. I angrily reached for his ankara shirt like a wife to a husband who didn’t give her money for soup. I could swear I didn’t pull it at all, I was super scared cos I had never done that before. It seemed another person was wearing my body and doing these things,the cloth was like toilet paper I had used that morning. It tore right down..just then I realized an old man was in the vehicle(I was super surprised cos old men are the ones who correct everything). This time I was really tugging at his cloth to get the driver’s attention, who of course took sides with his conductor. The old man was saying I should let it go then he got off the bus! All this while “baba” didn’t see anything worth reprimanding until my “alter ego” tore this man’s cloth. I didn’t answer..and then this handsome boy (I didn’t notice until now) beside me tried so hard. He spoke in my favour all to no avail. He gave up and got down. At this point it was just me,my niece(of course on my side), the driver and the conductor,with my hand on shirt of course. I realized I couldn’t let go without winning and that I had come too far, so I started to make calls,and this was where I totally went out of place-I called my boyfriend’s sister who is a cop. It got to one point I thought they were going to kidnap us. The way the driver sped as if his bus had suddenly become a formular 1 racer, I still didn’t let go. Until instead of driving to the police station as I was insisting, he drove to the park where he saw a female police he knew well enough. And God bless her soul, she told him he was wrong,or probably didn’t want to hear anymore of my unending story. But told me with a scorn how I shouldn’t have torn his cloth. And to end it all, a man there simply gave me a clean N100 note to replace the bad one. What a day! Eko o ni baje o.

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