I had a most interesting experience today. My friend and I had gone to get something at the Ikeja City Mall sometime this afternoon. We boarded a bus going back to Yaba just in front of the mall and sat comfortably at the back seat.
The conductor kept yelling ‘Yaba’ but not a lot of people entered the bus. In my mind, the bus fare sat somewhere reasonably between 150 and 200 naira. I didn’t think for any reason that I’d have to pay more than that, especially since this was not rush hour.
Anyway, none of the people standing at the bus stop wanted to take a trip to Yaba so the driver drove ahead A LITTLE (to a place called Secretariat Bus stop); a walkable distance. We picked up two people who, when they sat down, thought it wise to demand for the bus fare to Yaba. The driver said: N250.
Now they were a young man and a young woman. Immediately they heard the price, they made to leave the bus but the conductor conceded and said : N200
The journey commenced and he began collecting our money. My friend and I paid N500 and expected N100 change. We whispered to ourselves about how we knew he’d try to charge us N250 because we didn’t fight him like the others.
So I said: Conductor, change N100.
He said: There’s no change for you.
I told him how that was just impossible and that he couldn’t possibly charge us differently from the others simply because the bus crawled a few distance away from where he had picked us, to pick them. He just said: Passenger, no change for you.
I was very angry for a few minutes. So I kept quiet and gave myself concrete reasons why I should let the money go.
But my friend collected the baton and began to demand for the change. He kept ignoring us. I mean, two Law Students speaking English to a Yoruba conductor with scars on his body and soul must have been a funny minor sight to him.
Suddenly the (very fair and really pretty) lady who sat beside us and had first protested against the price, told us that we had to collect that money from him and that we should stop laughing and ensure that we hold him for our money. Frankly, at this point, I was the only one laughing because I had moved on. I just wanted to come down and maybe spit in his face and run. That would have been perfect consolation for me.
When we got to Yaba and got down from the bus, my friend told me to hold her plastic bag and she began tapping the conductor: ‘Oga, our change.’ He was also standing and calling in more customers to commence their journey to Obalende.
He was ignoring my friend and calling his customers with interjections like ‘Madam abeg free me, I no owe you‘. My friend was getting angry, I could see it. She started to hold his hand and increase her voice: Give me my change abeg! Oga, give me my change.
I was standing behind and saying: Oga give us our change joor. Praying that no one I knew would stop and see me.
The conductor was not budging and he even seemed preoccupied with filling his bus when suddenly, from nowhere, the beautiful fair lady in sunshades who sat beside us in the bus appeared on the scene.
‘Come on would you give these girls their money!‘ She yelled. She jacked up his shirt straight up and transformed to a domineering giant. I couldn’t reconcile her beauty with her fierceness. She began to tell at him ‘ Why you no wan give these girls their money. Because them be small girls shey? I no go leave here until you give these girls their money.’
A crowd began to form and she heightened her drama. She used her second hand to dramatically pull off her sunshades. ‘Look my face well! Look am! You no fit do anything to me. I resemble person wey you go threaten? You will give these girls their money today. Oya give them!’
I was enthralled. I just stood and stared like: Wow, such fierceness.
When it seemed like the conductor was not listening, she took her hands off his shirt and down to his jeans trousers. She slipped her hand into the front of his trouser, gripped the waist of the jeans, gripped his dangling belt with her second hand and said: You think say I dey joke. Oya give these girls their change.
Oh my God. I was in awe. Never in my life had I met such a hard-headed, daring, fearless woman. It was a beautiful work of art to me. Not the fight or her troublesome nature, but the way she couldn’t bear with injustice and the strength with which she fought for another person. Most times, people who are blessed with compassion do not possess the physical daring strength to destroy perpetrators of injustice while those who are blessed with physical daring strength don’t usually feel that much compassion.
I wish I could advice her to channel all her strength and heart towards charity work. I can imagine how many rapists would be murdered.
Oh… Dude gave us our money. 🙂