Obafemi Awolowo University Was Calling
A short story by Barnabas Eirekholo
January 6, 2020. Obafemi Awolowo University was calling. The long break was far spent, so we were expected to resume on campus today. I travelled from Ibadan to Ife by road which is about an hour and thirty minutes journey.
I left home early for the park. At the park I joined the queue for the bus and as was customary, we waited for other passengers to come on board. It took a while before the bus filled up and the driver roared it into motion.
We left the park at 4:00 pm. The time I estimated for the journey was an hour and thirty minutes. It had always been that way. However, today's journey was to take another dimension because ‘village people’ came through.
The bus was moving smoothly and we (the passengers) were cruising to Tope Alabi's songs playing on the stereo set when we heard a lady from the rear end wail. ‘Driver wait, wait o. I no see one of my boxes for boot’. At first, no one took her seriously. She might have been playing pranks. That was our thought until her screaming increased like a nursing mother in distress.
'Where did you put your box?' 'Are you sure you carried it from home?'. The passengers were querying until the noise from the bus reached a peak and the driver angrily stopped the bus. We had just arrived at Ikire, Osun state.
The driver got down from the bus and went to the boot to locate the lady's missing luggage. He was sure that it was in the bus. After some minutes of frantic searching, our fear was confirmed. One piece of her luggage was truly not in the bus.
It may have been that the driver forgot to put that piece of her luggage in the bus. So, after much deliberation, we resolved to return to the park to locate her missing luggage. As the bus made a U-turn to Ibadan, the atmosphere was tense. Music had stopped playing. The passengers were moody. The kids that were whining and making noise earlier sensed the tension and stopped playing so as no to 'chop' ‘frustration’ slaps from their parents.
All of a sudden, the driver was moving at such a high speed like someone was after him. But nobody was pursuing him, so we were alarmed. Had it been that he was speeding on a smooth and tarred road like those in the Fast and Furious movies, there would not have been any issues. However, this was on our Nigerian roads. Haba, I was not ready to die, so I spoke out immediately.
‘Driver, abeg dey drive small small. Life no get duplicate.....' I had not finished my statement when we heard a loud explosion. All at once, everyone was shouting, 'Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!’ Some were already saying their last prayers. Well, I opened my mobile app bible to John 3:16 and repented of all my sins for the fifteenth time. What was going on? We thought that Boko Haram had waylaid us and thrown bombs at us. Soon, we discovered that we were wrong.
The driver made us realize that one of the tyres had burst. So, he carefully brought the car to a halt and we all alighted. He had not made any provision for a spare tyre, so we were all at a loss as to what do. Before we knew what was going on, some Christian brethren formed a big circle and started praying. 'O Lord God of Israel, we need provisions. Send us a Messiah. We need a spare tyre urgently.’ Speaking in tongues soon followed. Like a movie, they started calling for sick persons so that they could be healed. Was this a joke? I was angry in my spirit and keen to see the outcome of this ongoing drama.
Luckily, we found a mechanic by the roadside who helped us and fixed the tyre in twenty minutes. The bus came alive again and we got in. This time, our mood graduated from tense to anger. One of the passengers commented, 'the time we have wasted today ehn...if I had invested it in my crypto currency business, I would have made some cool cash by now.'
The search for the lady's luggage began as soon as we got to Ibadan. The driver was seen asking his colleagues if they had seen any strange luggage around the park. None had. The lady insisted that she brought it to the park and was ready to fight the driver when she suddenly remembered that she had left it in the taxi that brought her to the park. See double wahala.
The driver was so relieved. He had been vindicated. He silently marched to the boot of the bus and removed the lady's remaining luggage and returned half of the transportation fees she paid earlier.
Zoom, zoom, zoom. We were now leaving the park. The time was 5:24 pm. My mind was filled with various thoughts about the events that had occurred earlier. I was tired. Twenty-five minutes into the journey, someone wanted to empty his bowels urgently.
'Mr. Man, can't you hold it till we reach Ife?' The passenger sitting next to me asked. He exclaimed in return, 'nooo, you wan kill me be that.' The bus slowed down to allow him to ease himself. As he left, three other passengers registered their intentions to empty their bowels too. Not up to a minute later, five people suddenly wanted to ease themselves. Trust Nigerians! The fear of missing out (FOMO) is real. They suddenly turned this one to a competition. Were they merely cruising? I couldn't say. However, I was ready to know the winner of this great tournament.
Twenty minutes gone; two passengers were yet to return to the bus. What were they doing? The time was a few minutes after six and it was getting really dark. I had not planned for a night journey at all. ‘Where are these people na?' The passengers were feeling the heat too. We ought to have been in Ife by now.
'See the people we are waiting for. See how they are walking majestically to the bus.' When they noticed that all eyes were on them, they quickened their pace only to receive a second round of word lashings from the other passengers. Soon after, it died down and the bus was moving again. This time, a rule was passed that the bus was not going to stop for any reason whatsoever. We readily agreed.
There was huge traffic jam when we got to Asejire river. We learnt that an accident had occurred involving a petrol tanker and an SUV vehicle. Moving on, we encountered many checkpoints which further slowed down the journey. It was so tiring and frustrating that I wished I could appear in Ife by magic. That would have been the wish of every passenger in the bus too. We ought to have arrived in Ife an hour ago but we were still on the road. How I loathed night traveling.
I finally arrived at campus around 8:00 pm. When the driver opened the door for me to alight, I started singing the popular Onise Iyanu. The driver and a few passengers in the bus let out a laugh but I was not concerned. As my feet stepped on Ife soil, I quickly ordered two bottles of coca-cola to replenish my energy and voice and to cool down my anger and stress. It truly did replenish my energy and voice but the anger and the stress I encountered? Maybe. Maybe not.
We were very pleased to receive this delightful story from Barnabas. Why not join the library and get access to lots of amazing stories.