Wednesday, 29 March 2017

At the End of the Tunnel #3

Continued from #2

I even considered running away before the d-day,but to where as I have never gone out of our little town and the surrounding ones in my entire life. That was my London and I couldn’t just imagine life outside of it. I was left with no choice than to resign to fate,hope and pray that the almighty God would guide and see me through whatever I come my way in Lagos.

Eko Akete,ilu ogbon as Lagos was and is still popularly called because of the many heinous things that happen there more than any other city in Nigeria is no place for a local like me as I have heard severally from the few people that have been there from our town. What have I not heard about the city? People being robbed of their valuables in broad daylight? The uncountable vehicles? The too many people,big and giant like houses that lined its streets? I couldn’t just imagine myself in such a strange place.

I remember a popular story we were told by a Lagos returnee about a certain boy who had travelled to Lagos from one of the towns in Ekiti. The boy had left his home town in search of a greener pasture in Lagos without knowing anyone or anywhere in the city only to realize his folly when he alighted from the rickety wooden bus popularly called ‘Tanlese’ in those days and didn’t know where to turn to. He started roaming the streets with no particular place in mind as his destination still swimming in the euphoria of being in the wonderland where he was told housed plenty money. He had been made to believe that money flowed like a river in Lagos and it was on this premise that he ran away from home to come scoop his own portion of the flowing money.

In no distant time,night came beckoning. He hadn’t even realized how long he’s been on the streets savouring the beauty of his dreamland. He started crying when it dawned on him that he had no place to lay his head for the night as people around him started heading to their various places of abode. He was in this state when he was approached by a heavily built man who looked like he could snap life out of him with just a finger. He was so terrified that he started urinating on himself as he had never seen anyone so fierce looking like the one standing before him. He made an attempt to run but before he could put his legs to motion, the man got hold of him, lifted him off the ground with just a hand and threw him to the ground. Where do you think you are going? He asked in the huskiest voice he has ever heard.

"Abode lele yi ni,he continued in Yoruba language. Kiloruko e, Nibo lo ti wa,nibo lo de lele yi ni(Is this one a fool ,what is your name ,where are you from and where are you going to)?"

The boy was too shocked and terrified that he couldn’t find his voice to answer the list of questions thrown at him. Instead,he burst into fresh tears and was on it until Mr. Goliath spoke again.
Se eti ndun e ni? Mo ni ibo lo ti wa,nibo lo de nlo? Ta loro pe o n ba e soro naa? Abi ki n muna leti e ni? (Are you deaf? Who do you think is talking to you? Or do you want me to give you a slap)?"

And before he could think of what to say, an iron-like palm landed on his right cheek with a great sound. He initially thought he had gone deaf from the effect of the slap. Within one minute, he had checked the ear for about a million times to ascertain that it was still present.
Se wa a de soro nsin abi ki n tun ba e wa size e (would you talk now or else I give you your size again)?""

 Baami, the boy began to talk in his thick and undiluted Ekiti accent not wanting another dose of the slap. Ekiti ni mi ti a, Ojo si ni mi n je. Mi a latilu ria sibeyi lati a sise aje kemi naa le doloo tabua. (My father, I came from Ekiti and my name is Ojo. I came here to work so as to be very rich)."
Se Eko de ti di bi ti won tin ka owo loju titi,ehn omo ilu oke? Abi o ro wipe awon ara oko bi ti e ni won awa leko(So,Lagos has turned to where money is picked on the streets. Do you think Lagos is for the locals like you)?"
 Mr. Goliath asked mockingly.We were told that the boy ran back to his hometown the following day.

This,coupled with some other horrifying tales about Lagos were responsible for my reluctance to go with Aunty Kubura.

My departure from home was characterized with emotions. Before we retired to bed on the eve of my departure, all my siblings gathered around me at the backyard of my father’s compound all wanting to have a glimpse and hold me one more time before I left. They made it look like it was my last day on earth as they all took turns to hug me. I had remain unperturbed until it was Segun,my youngest brother’s turn to hug me. He was four at the time and couldn’t reach my height to hug me. Instead, he held on to me crying and wouldn’t leave me.All efforts to pacify him were futile and it was his action that made me burst into tears and so were my brothers and sisters with each of them trying to console me amidst their own tears. What a revival of tears!

I couldn’t sleep all through the night. I was just tossing from one end of the mat to the other while praying that dawn would not come but my prayer was not answered as the dawn finally broke. It was then that I realized that some things would not happen no matter how hard we pray.

Aunty Kubura arrived at our house before 5:00am that morning and went straight to my father’s wing of the compound to announce her arrival. I was instantly summoned by my mother who asked me to take my bath quickly and get ready in no time. 
We left for the motor park at a quarter to six because only one bus goes to Lagos from our district once in five days and leaves as early as six o’clock in the morning.Passengers were taken on a first come,first serve basis.  

The ride to Lagos was characterized with discomfort. The bus was anything but comfortable. We were packed like sardines and I couldn’t close my eyes a bit when sleep came knocking despite being surrounded by sleeping co-passengers. Some people can sleep for Africa sha. I still cannot believe how someone can sleep in such an awkward situation.

Aunty Kubura who throughout the journey didn’t as much as talked to me gave me a tip of the iceberg of what my stay in her house would look like when our vehicle finally stopped at the popular Oshodi motor garage after about eight hours on the road. 

Being a JJC ,I wasn’t fast enough to come out of the vehicle because I didn’t realize on time that we were at our destination. What would my aunty do? A resounding slap ,the type that will make you see stars in their millions in broad daylight and a yell that nearly made me deaf right on the spot were what I got from her.

“Ode osi, arindin,oponu. She thundered in Yoruba language (meaning;fool and imbecile). Can’t you see people coming out of the vehicle,aboju e fo ni?” I opened my mouth to explain that I didn’t know that was our destination but instead of words,it was a flood of tears that had built a mansion in my eyes that started to trickle out ceaselessly.
 I tried to control it but no,the tears were desperate to fall. As if what she did wasn’t painful enough, she added salt to my injury when her her palm landed with a thud on my upper back.

"Ki lo n pa e lekun? She started ranting again. Oo ti mo nkankan. Emi o ma raye osi. Abi e de maa wo oniranu I sha (why are you crying? You don’t know what you are into. I have no time for your nonsense)."

That was when I knew my stay in Lagos would be far from a good life she had described to me and my parents back home.

Who says there’s no reward for every deed? Unknown to me and her, some people in the garage had been watching our drama and were only waiting for the right time to intervene or maybe I should say strike. She was still enjoying tongue-lashing me when an unknown woman walked up to where we were standing and slapped her across the face from behind. As she turned back to see who had dared do that to her,she was met with a bigger dose of the woman’s venomous palm. I was as confused as she was. Did she know the woman from anywhere? What had she done to have been slapped twice? As she raised her hand to slap her assailant in retaliation, about five other people ,men and women  surrounded us  instantly asking her in unison to dare slap the woman.  I began to fear for our safety as many thoughts started running through my mind.
I could see how horrified she became on the spot not knowing what to do. You are wondering what you did wrong? One of the men spoke,obviously to bail her out of confusion.

“You are wicked and an animal in a human skin. What is the girl’s offense that made you treated her in that manner?” He asked . “I don’t think she’s your child.” Another member of the group added.

When it dawned on me that those people were actually there to save me from her claws, I silently smile at her predicament and thanked God for sending me saviours to deliver me from the snare of the Fowler as he had promised in Psalm 91:3 at the appropriate time.

And when she at her own end realized that I was the reason for her torture and ridicule , she looked at me and when our eyes met,I could see fire and brimstone in those big eyes of hers. The eyes spoke of hell on earth and I wished that one of my saviours would ask me if I wanted to return to my parents and offer to take me back home. It dawned on me that my supposed rescue team had actually succeeded in worsening my woes.
Shamefully and remorsefully, she carried the sack containing the things she were given at home and placed it on her head,lifted her travel back to her shoulder while she asked me in the most gentle voice you could ever think off to carry the box containing my personal effects. Let’s go ,she said as she fetched my right hand and hold me .

 To be continued.
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