It had started on a mild tone. Then it got heated up, just like always. I am used to the noise. Either the one from the ‘pshycho’ neighbors or the one from the speakers of the happening boys on the street or the scream of ladies when they watch a series of surprise videos on Instagram. It is what announces to me that I have made it to the next day. Although the newspaper is becoming extinct with the influx of more news mobile applications, people still gather at the vendor stand to discuss the dailies. Did I say discuss? Sorry, I meant to say argue.
In my country, we don’t discuss issues. We argue about them. It has to start with one man giving his perspective about something. The other doesn’t have to understand what the subject matter is, all he has to say ‘shut up, what do you know?’ and then the circle goes on and on. No more facts are laid. Just people insulting, taunting and screaming. In the end, the one with the loudest voice or who has the most insulting adjective wins. Often times, you just need a terrible mouth odour to silence others.
‘Can’t people just do without arguing and fighting in this Lagos? ‘ I mumbled as I turned to the other side of the bed. ‘Well, that’s their problem. I have to sleep more.’ I said, half asleep. I had stayed up all night discussing why my boyfriend used the moon emoji while chatting with his colleague. Men never listen!
I had expected he would have said ‘I’m sorry, baby, I can’t cheat on you with that ugly girl, you are the finest girl in my world. I will block her right away’ but instead, he tried defending his stance that the emoji meant nothing. I felt so pained that he was insinuating I had trust issues. So we went all and all discussing it in high voices. Lots of harsh words thrown around, call banged and redialled. After 6hours of trashing the same matter, ‘baby, you know I don’t like arguing, just agree you were wrong. I don’t want to start arguing please’ I said. I got him this time, he apologized. But that had robbed me of my sleep time. I have to make up for the time before work regardless of the noise around.
‘Damn, I’m late for work’ I screamed out like I wasn’t aware it was late when I decided to take a second round of sleep. I rushed to the bathroom and got prepared for work. ‘Today, don’t let people get at you. Get up early, be diligent, be peaceful. Be mature in your thinking’, I typed that hurriedly and posted on my WhatsApp story. It is a rite. I wouldn’t have left home without giving a pill of motivation to my contacts. I jumped out after and made for work.
‘ Oga, Ikoyi! Na 1k dey my hand o, make I enter? ‘ I asked. ‘Wole siwaju, English ‘ the conductor replied. I’m used to being called different names by bus conductors, from Opelenge to Sisi Eko to Ojuigo. ‘English’ sounded more endearing that time. So I smiled and moved quickly to the front seat as the bus zoomed off.
‘Owo niwaju’ he stretched his hand to collect money. The spit from his mouth was all over my glasses as I turned to give him the money. He quickly withdrew his hand at the sight of the one thousand naira note. ‘Mo sope Ko si change ooo, fun mi ni 100naira mi o’ I had always known bus conductors to be mad but that one was madder than I could have imagined. I tried explaining countless times that I informed him before getting in. I looked at other commuters’ faces just so they could validate my claim. But this is Lagos, no one cares!
It was rant after rant after. He became a legend of simile and compared me with every ugly thing in the world. All because I was on a bus and I had a big currency on. But what could I have done? I was determined to be mature in thinking. So I kept quiet. I alighted at the next bus stop after my office’s bus stop because he won’t stop for me. He gave me my balance, nine hundred naira, out of which three of the hundred naira notes looked like rags that have no owner.
I came down bitter. Looked at my phone screen to check the time. My eyes caught the Instagram notification of Fola’s story. I opened to see what she has on her plate of motivation. We all serve it, it is a trend. I quickly read ‘Ignore the bad people in your life and focus on your goal.’ I knew it was most likely a copied post because we all know Fola can’t think right but it helped me get over the conductor and focus on my goal of getting to the office. All I needed that time.
‘You people should even be happy you saw me. I was scared for my life. I don’t know if they were APC members but I heard them shouting SAI BUHARI. Almost five people were macheted’ I said pantingly, like a mouse that just escaped a cat. My manager, the emotional sweet lady was already asking Kareem to get me hot coffee to relax. ‘You should have just called, sorry my dear. ‘ she said. ‘That stupid Buhari is bent on Islamizing the country, he won’t succeed in Jesus name’ another colleague yelled. I knew the best topic to lie with. Everyone is angry with Buhari, you just have to mention his name in every evil, it doesn’t have to be real, they will believe.
Just as I was trying to settle in my seat, I noticed Grace’s facial expression. We have never liked each other. Most times when we have to work together, we always end up yelling at each other. She wasn’t saying a thing this morning but in my mind, I knew she was debating my excuse. I don’t want to argue today but I have to address this.
‘why are you looking at me like that’ I said with a hateful glance. ‘How? ‘ she answered like she wasn’t ready for me. ‘Do you know you are just so proud, it irritates me. Maybe you think I deliberately came late or something. Do you even stay in my area? How will you know if political parties were fighting on my way here? Every time, you just want to look like the better person’ – I went on and on,I already left my seat and was standing close to hers. I didn’t realize I was shouting at the top of my voice. Grace was just there, looking straight into my eyes without muttering a word. ‘I think you are traumatized at what you have seen. Grace actually called to check up on you before you came and you weren’t picking. She had, in fact, helped you to sign in’ my manager said. It was at that point I noticed I have been arguing with myself on my own without anyone’s instigating or replying me. Motivation failed, culture won!
Picture credit: www.mirror.co.uk