Through her everyday Lagos living and danfo bus struggles, Chinyere finds her definition of home.
On my way home from Ladipo, I happened to sit in the bus beside this large woman who was determined to crush me with her Christian mother arm. I kept moving away from her, but the more I moved, the more she pressed her arm against me.
On a normal day, I would have gotten down and taken another bus. But this was no normal day, considering the crowd at the bus stop and the time it had taken me to get a bus and the extra minutes of pushing, shoving, cussing and climbing over each other before I eventually got a seat — which wasn’t even a seat in the real sense of the word.
Just as I was about to settle in and adjust my butt on the plank-cum-seat, a dirty scruffy looking man with legs like òkpá ókukò stood up and shouted, ” Praise the Lord!” He was carrying a Bible that looked twice the size of his head.
He looked like he had lived in his clothes for a long time. Though his voice sounded friendly and calming, his eyes were the eyes of someone who shouldn’t be trusted. Someone bad. I wondered why anyone will bring religion to another in an uncomfortable bus that smelt of sweat, dust, and grease while looking so dirty and unkempt. Or doesn’t he know cleanliness is next to godliness?
“Let’s pray.” He continued. The words were addressed to no one in particular, just as many other words were addressed to no one but everyone in this city. But then, whatever words they were, they had one thing in common; they were all noise, and noise had become a way of life in this city where everything had to be fast: from work and food to even sex.
All the rush and running makes me feel like running away myself. This submission to the hectic existence that was Lagos life went into the clothes worn by the people: it was in their foot wears, in their food and water. It was in the air, in their laughter, in their jokes and even in their cries. This noise gave life. It was a sign of progress, of happiness, of silent battles. It was a sign of home, because a silent city is a dead city.
I breathed softly and looked away. By my other side was a girl who looked too young to be a mother trying to console the crying little girl on her lap. From what she was saying, I gathered the girl was crying because the uncle they visited had refused to give her money. I sighed and wondered if this wasn’t where the sense of entitlement some girls seem to have usually start from. From mothers teaching their little daughters to ask for money from their relatives. Isn’t this how they grow up thinking it’s the duty of a man to provide all their needs?
By now the scruffy man had finished preaching. He brought out some worn out envelopes from his Bible and distributed to people in the bus, all while asking them to contribute to his ministry. I ignored him and his outstretched hand because I couldn’t understand why some Christians were fond of converting every where to a mini church. I guess this is what religion does to people. It takes away from them what truly is God. God truly is us, and religion takes us away from ourselves.
We passed a little group of about six to seven men gathered by a roadside shop, watching television. “Agbayas” the large woman spat in disgust muttering something about how their wives were at home waiting for them.
I wanted to tell her not to judge: that maybe they were running away from a nagging wife. I wanted to tell her that maybe they’ve lost their home somewhere and maybe this was the closest to home they could get. I wanted to tell her that we were all wrecked and sometimes seek happiness in the wrong places. I wanted to tell her that maybe there was a void they were trying to fill and instead of judging, she should ask where it hurts. I wanted to tell her that to some, this was home.
Home for me used to be the shrill sound of my mother’s laughter, accompanied by a plate of ekpa nnkuwo. But home these days isn’t singular, and though I might be a little broken at the moment, home is me smiling through my struggles, my earphones plugged in, and a book in my hand. I know it’s not the best, but I feel a lot more safe with the thought that I have become my home.
Chinyere is a lover of art and literature. She works with other literary enthusiasts to organize literary programmes. The most recent is Cogitations – a Spoken Word, and Music concert which seeks to effect change, to foster critical thinking through what is believed to be the sacred art of poetry.
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