A Saturday in Lagos means different things to different people. For the alago igbala, ” Fellow soul winners, tomorrow is Saturday. It is the best time for morning evangelism, they don’t get out too early. The words of God can penetrate their hearts and we could win more souls. Let’s go out as early as possible. The megaphone can’t go round all ministers in the church but others can make do with bells.”
For the Owambe slayers, it is the day of the social parade. “Not like I like Sade whose wedding I’m going to, but let it not be like I am broke. That was why I bought the aso ebi. If not why would I spend #40,000 on a cloth? Moreover, I want to see how her day would be with all her mouth. I have already spoken to a lady that would do my makeup, I will pay her later. My boyfriend will book uber for me because I can’t walk in my heels, I picked the heels because it is the best to rock this party, not that I can walk in it. Before I go, let me quickly confirm my boyfriend isn’t getting married today on IG” That’s the deal, girls are always on the lookout for their boyfriends on social media on Saturday. In fact, it is a day you have to call him several times to be sure he’s not saying ‘I take you today as my newly wedded wife’ to someone else somewhere.
The young boys on the street rejoice when it’s Saturday. Time for soccer. By 7 am, everyone assembles in the field. “Abdul, please give me your Jersey. We want to play set. I will give you when it is your turn.” Later in the evening, they would meet at Haji’s viewing center to cheer their International league teams to wins or losses. “Ororo is the world best, see my boy. Oya, give them, one, two, three,o ti ge won pa” They speak of the international players with so much passion like they are friends or relatives.
Hustlers don’t sleep, rest day is death day is the summary of Saturday for the money making gang. Like the other days of the week, by 3 am, they are on the way. “Woman, I’m off. I have to beat this traffic. Don’t worry, I will comb my hair on the bus. I have packed everything. Yes, the comb and polish. Thank you. Make sure you go early to grandma’s place, I don’t want you walking around at night, most of the drainage in Lagos are now death traps. We will meet at night. Bye”
For me, Saturday is no better than every other day. It is just a day to sleep and eat. When I get bored of sleeping, I sleep again to ease the boredom. Sometimes, I could help my entrepreneur sister in sorting her orders. “Please help me put the customer’s mobile number on that. Write her location, these bus drivers have a delirious attitude. The driver might say he didn’t see it well like that and fail to deliver the package. Thank you. This order will carry a note, I’m coming, I can’t even think of what to write, will you help me or I check Google for some quotes and paraphrase? I mustn’t commit a blunder, or customer won’t come back.” She would say; whining at one time, happy at another time. Entrepreneurs and their emotional circle.
Well, that particular Saturday, I wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t swiping through Bellanaijawedding page and awwing up and down to wedding clips. Neither was I out on the street watching the wives of my neighbour fighting. I was out helping my sister with her delivery at Ojota.
“Please help me. Some customers don’t care if you live or die, their orders have to get to them. Don’t let someone call me out for being fake because I delayed order for a day. Please, hold a handkerchief to cover your nose because of the cigarette smoke, you know you are allergic to it. Don’t give to agbero o. Ask for the bus driver and be sure you collect his number ,that’s the most important because he might not call the customer until he is 5 minutes away from her destination, so take his number so we can monitor him” Her talk was beginning to piss me off and she could see that, so she quickly handed over the package. Not like I would have helped on a normal day but she was so sick, I had to.
I dashed out to the bus park on that Saturday. Everywhere was dirty, the buses were all soiled perhaps because most of the roads are muddy. The cigarette smoke filled the air and my handkerchief wasn’t going to help much. The musky smell of Marijuana could get one high even without smoking. The loud noise from the megaphone was irritating my soul. Nothing seemed normal in the park. I was lucky enough to find a bus that was about to leave for the location of the package. The “agberos” were collecting their dues from the driver when I got there. The driver took the package and gave me his number. Mission accomplished, time to head home!
It was at this point I saw a petite, young lady coming towards me. She has a height of about 4’5ft. She was wearing a blue Jean, black top and white turban with beautiful white footwear which gave her dressing more glory. I was sure she was going to talk to me. “This one had better not ask me questions about the park because I don’t know anything,” I thought as she got closer.
“Good morning dear” she greeted with a smile on her face, her smile was so hearty and one could bet she knew me somewhere. “Good morning” I responded waiting for her to tell me where we have met before or the school we both attended. “My name is Omolola. I sell fabrics. I came to dispatch my deliveries and I saw you doing the same. What do you sell?” Wawu, I was surprised at the outspokenness. Her voice was beautiful, she would have made a perfect chorister if she were a Christian. “I don’t sell, I’m helping my sister out. She sells shoes and bags. My name is Abiola.” I said. She is my namesake, but I didn’t want to talk too much as I was in a hurry to go so I didn’t bother to mention that. “Nice name. Can I be your friend” she asked almost immediately.
That time, everything seemed weird. How could we become friends just like that? My sister didn’t tell me I was going to meet weird people here apart from the crazy agberos and frustrating driver. Well, I answered with the natural response I would give on social media “we are already friends”. “Alright, let me have your number”. She asked with a big grin this time not minding my cold attitude. I was going to tell her off, like who gives a total stranger her digit just like that. It was strange enough that a girl was asking another girl out for friendship, then she was asking for my digit. “Or should I just give you mine if you don’t mind,” she said with a pleading stare.
I was getting impatient but didn’t want to come off rude so I gave her my number. She called the next day! After the normal greetings of which I responded like a computerised machine, she said, “Babes, let me give you a gist.” So this is what people do in friendship, sweet names and “gist”. Before I could respond, she already started. We both had time discerning the first topic, assuming what could have played out, what could have happened and what not.
We discussed some other issues too or let me say “gist about other issues” since that’s the term in friendship. As the call ended at 54minutes, I was surprised I could talk that long with a lady. The weirdest was the fact that I was all smiles during and after the call. I really enjoyed the conversation like it was with the love of my life. I’m as straight as a die so that wasn’t it. However, there was something about her that I found endearing, maybe the sweet voice so I decided to save her number on my contact with “Sweet Voice Girl”
Months after, she was still that girl calling every other time. Giving me “gist” smiling and calling me sweet names. My favourite was “sugar”. Sometimes, I would ignore her calls, other times, I would delay replying her messages for days. Not because I hated her but I wasn’t so much into friendship. She still remained so sweet and cozy regardless of my mood swings.
So many things happened after I knew Lola. Some dark moments, some low days. Some confusing thoughts. All along she was there for me. At some points when she would call and say, “you are sounding low, what’s wrong? Let’s talk” The thought of “so this is what you people do in friendship, telling others about your private lives? Wanting to know what is going on in your friend’s life and reciprocating that?” Then I would shun her with “Nothing is wrong. I’m fine.”
Even at those points, she never got offended. She was particular about me being happy than knowing the story though she would have loved to know. Months have passed and she virtually knows nothing about me neither did I embrace all the opportunities to meet her the second time but her love sees no fault.
Now, I could say Lola is my diamond in the rough. Lola has fed me while I was hungry. She has housed me on the day I needed somewhere to sleep. She had run errands for me even on her busy days. Constantly, she has spoiled me with gifts even when I reject some. Her calls and text messages had made me smile and laugh on days I had no reason to be happy. If I could turn back the hands of time, I will surely do better than I did at the beginning of the bond.
What I know surely now is that that special Saturday I gave Lola my number, I signed an eternal friendship contract made in Heaven. What I really don’t understand is how deserving I am of Lola’s unflinching love and always ready to help attitude.
Today is Lola’s birthday. I have no words to celebrate such an angel. Just tears bore out of indebtedness, gratitude, and praise.