Monday, May 04, 2015.
The air was moist and momentary blasts of hot air
saturated the woman. She picked up her already moist handkerchief and squeezed
it before using it to mop her face. The noise playing behind the driver
irritated her. She got a quick look. It was those passengers who delighted in
making life miserable for their fellow men. ‘STOP PLAYING THAT SILLY MUSIC AND
SWITCH OFF THE… THE (she got a closer look) UGLY LOOKING PHONE!’ Everyone
stared at her but she maintained the gaze. Many thought the usual thing. It was
possible she was under an intense psychological problem. They all asked the
culprit to switch off his phone and with assuring eyes, a man nodded that it
was okay. She rolled her eyes and looked out the window.
The bus stopped, she alighted
and headed towards the train station with the burden on her head.
‘Iyaibeji, careful over there, the railing is
slippery.’ someone cautioned. She smiled her thanks and held onto the wooden
rail then climbed the steps gingerly and sighed when she reached the platform.
She collected her ticket of N150 at the ticket point and showed the ticket to
the checker who must have seen it being handed over to her.
‘Hanhan, move jor. No press
the tin for my face’ he said. She sucked her teeth and spat into the grass then
tottered towards the train. Her first impulse was to turn away and look for
another alternative but she had no choice. She had no problem. Pregnant women
always got a place to sit. She walked down the aisle and everywhere was full
since it was occupied by tickets representing vague passengers. She was
sweating heavily now and it was no use mopping her face then she heard a beckon
that sent airs of relief saturating her body in the midst of the treacherous
‘Iyaibeji, come and sit here!’
‘Ha, thanks a lot sir. See as
I’m sweating and it’s only the tickets that get to sit.’
The man nodded. 'Abi, even the
heat is just unbearable. They just use these fans for decoration.’ He added and
nodded towards the grease-filled fans. She sighed and settled in her sit,
waiting for the train to blare its horns and move towards Ebute-Meta junction.
Sweaty bodies, smelly ones and
injured ones were occupants of the train. A few number of clean bodies sent a
faint aroma of hope and she savoured each moment passionately. Although she
appreciated the kindness of the man beside her, the thick smell from his mouth
made her regret accepting his invitation to sit beside him. She was acquainted
with it at first when he talked about the fans and she hoped he wouldn’t talk
anymore but the usual discussions in the cramped train excited him and she had
to endure the stiffening smell. Everything nauseated her. She wanted to throw
up; the impulse was high but she checked herself. Dupe had taught her a technique
she must have read from stupid books. The fear would ease away as it came. She
smiled, her pretty sister with her dimpled cheeks. ‘Thank God for that job of
hers. At least, our palms won’t be dry anymore’ she thought aloud. ‘What?’ the
man asked. She shook her head. Her waiting was not in vain. God’s time indeed
was the best. A familiar smell came from her neighbor, she averted her face. He
was itching for a conversation but the feeling wasn’t mutual.
The train stopped mid-way. The
news spread quickly throughout the coaches. A boy had fallen off the moving
train and was chopped underneath the train. People shook with terror: women
were aggrieved with maternal sorrow. Different versions sprung up but the ‘surest’
she heard from the checker walking around was that the young man had found no
space and sat on the iron pedals enjoying the evening breeze. He must have been
enjoying the evening breeze so much that he fell asleep and fell off. Choi! She
shuddered. Just like that? Humans die just like that. She eased her stuff and
squeezed herself through the mass as she got to her stop.
‘E sun fun iyabeji o. E sun
o.’ people adjusted for her and she squeezed her way through the mass of
humans. A boy’s elbow nudged her stomach. She opened her eyes wide in terror
and poked him angrily in his side.
‘ Ofepamini? You want to kill
‘Ha, sorry ma.’
She cursed under her breath.
Then, she moved away not really moving because she was being pushed. She
couldn’t control herself, the current of humans propelled her forward, she
plunged her hand towards the bannister, but it did not reach it. She was being
pushed, harder this time.
‘ Let me alight carefully!’
she screamed. Her pleas fell on ears struggling to hear each other’s complaint
and seeking adequate replies. She lunged forward and was caught by the
granite-bed. Her frame landed gently and her stomach plummeted to the piercing
made by the thick iron beside the rail tracks. Blood splashed onto the faces of
the onlookers. The train moved, her legs wobbled under its bosom and every
scent of life vanished from her. It moved on and carried the pieces of her
body, leaving behind the trunk-less corpse of Oluronbi.
Mosunmola Omowunmi Adeojo is a Nigerian writer.