When I first came to Lagos, I was stupefied by the sheer number of people in the same place at the same time. All of whom seemed to be in a hurry.
The thing with Lagos life is that it’s fast-paced; Lagos doesn’t slow down for anyone. And like the saying goes, ‘Eko o gba gbere’, Lagos has no mercy for the sluggish. Act fast, move swiftly, or get crushed.
On my first day in Lagos, I’m sure my mouth stood half agape as I stared at the tall buildings and fast cars in wide eyed amazement.
I had never seen so many cars on the road at the same time before! And the drivers seemed not to be afraid for neither their lives nor the bodies of their cars.
They weaved, they cut corners, and they sped through very narrow spaces without fear. I looked on with bulging eyes and with my heart in my mouth.
Anxiety and excitement mixed together formed a tight knot in my throat that I could hardly breathe through. I was finally in Lagos; the city of fast cars and flashing lights.
I clutched my bag closer to my chest as the bus driver shouted “Oshodi come down oh. Last bus stop leleyi”. After gingerly alighting from the vehicle, I stood around for a minute or two, bewildered.
Oshodi was a madhouse. There was a very huge park in front of me and people were milling about. Everybody seemed to know what they were doing and where they were going. Everyone except me.
I stood there as Lagos life went on uninterrupted around me. People passed me by; hurriedly walking by me as I stood transfixed, mesmerized by the symmetry of the organized chaos undulating around me.
Some men with hard looking features rolled up wraps of weed casually, without a care in the world. Back in Ondo where I was coming from, weed was rolled and smoked in secrecy, under the cover of darkness.
My jaw dropped a little lower as I had yet to comprehend my surroundings. Someone bumped into me rudely from behind and I snapped out of my trance.
“Why you stand for road like statue. Abi on sun ni? Koshi kuro ko comot for road,” a menacing looking guy with layers of dirt on his skin and yellow teeth snarled at me.
I sighed loudly and willed my legs to move. After asking a kind street hawker for directions to Isolo, I finally boarded the bus from another part of the park.
Fortunately, and quite unfortunately, I took the last available seat. Fortunate because I didn’t have to wait further while another bus loaded passengers. Unfortunate because this meant the conductor was going to hang himself almost on my head.
The smell of unwashed armpit and grime was in my face and I was sure I’d choke to death before we got to our destination.
He started collecting money from passengers and I reached into my pocket for my wallet. That was when I realized that my wallet, which contained all my money, was gone.
“Owo da?” the conductor barked at me with his palm outstretched. I began to sweat….
To be continued …