“Change o!” I shouted towards the direction of the conductor. I had stopped asking for my ‘balance’ as it seems the conductor was deliberately ignoring me and willing me to use their regular lingua of “change”.
I was irritated. The bus reeked of rotten tomato. Someone had obviously forgotten to give their source of livelihood a good wash before scouting for new passengers.
I have a thing for good smell and when I am faced with irritating smell and an irritating conductor, it gets me in a pretty irritating mood.
“My change o!” I chanted again, alongside fellow passengers. The conductor grunted something in response. Whatever, that was his business. He should just give me my change.
I have had episodes of forgetting my change with conductors and I didn’t want anything from him other than my change. Imagine forgetting 450 naira for a 50naira fare. It can’t happen today! I have rebuked devourers in church yesterday!
“Estate bustop wa o”, I announced towards the conductor, hoping that will remind him to make sure he gives me my change first. He grunted again. This guy was getting on my nerves.
The bus stopped and I alighted from the bus, along with a young lady wearing a red top and flowery skirt who had been sitted in the front seat. How did I notice her outfit?
I returned my focus to the conductor, and before I could say Jack Robinson, the conductor pulled one of their trademark trick and he executedly it so easily.
Whilst sitting at the corner of one of the chairs, he thrust a five hundred naira into my hands and said ‘Give the aunty 150’ and as if planned with the conductor, the driver stepped on the gas and sped off.
I couldn’t even utter a word to the irritating conductor. I had a couple of things I would have loved to say to him.
I faced the “Aunty” in flowery skirt and we both asked the default question “which way are you going?” I managed a smile despite my irritation. She smiled back.
“This way” we both echoed, pointing towards the same direction as if it was choreographed. I smiled again and looked full into the eyes of aunty now. Her smile had widened. She does have a beautiful smile. The blaring horn from a bus brought me back to reality, I stepped aside with aunty and we started our journey up the bridge leading to the other side of the road or rather leading to the other side of my life.
“Are you taking a Maruwa from the bustop?” Aunty asked me after several failed attempts to come up with what to say to aunty.
“Yes, I am” I replied eagerly, “are you?” “Yes.” “Interesting”, I continued, “are we by chance neighbours?”
She replied with a smile. I took that as a good sign. I decided to stretch my luck.
“My name is Efe, yours” I asked, consciously choosing to obey the courtesy rule of not stretching hand to a lady first. It paid off. She paused, stretched her hand and with a smile replied
“I am Ogooluwa”. I didn’t give in to the temptation to have my hand linger in the handshake as it is in the movies, this might just end well.
Just maybe the conductor had been God-sent. Sent to give me the answer to the prayer I was banging on heavens gate for in church on Sunday. Could this be her?
We entered the same Keke together and we set to go. I got to know we were infact neighbours, just about two houses away from each other. Her dark face was constantly lighting up as I worked my jokes on her.
Guess what? We alighted at the same bus stop, and I offered to walk her to her house seeing it was just a few houses from mine. She reluctantly, but gladly agreed.
As we walked towards her house chatting like old friends, it dawned on me that I had not treated the conductor well. The conductor had just given my boring life a glow with the gift of a friend. I made a mental decision to start treating conductors well.
“Ogooluwa, tell me about your dreams” I said to aunty turn friend as we continued our walk. I just knew that I had found a friend and maybe a wife. Was I pushing my luck?
Thank you for reading. I’d love to hear about the wierdest thing that has ever happened between you and a bus conductor. Leggo!