Minutes into the ordeal that had become my journey home, trouble brewed again when two students couldn’t find their bus fare. Wearing a worried look, the older student searched his backpack as the younger one sat on his legs. The conductor had begun to mumble and mutter curse words as he turned to the other passengers for the bus fare. He would not take no for an answer when the older boy told him they could not find their bus fare. He would rather stick to the Nigerian phrase of ma woju Uche also known as no look Uche face. This warns against having sympathy for others in certain situations as nobody is too young to defraud another person and nobody is too old to be defrauded. A young man, dressed like a bank Manager signalled the conductor to deduct their fare from the one thousand naira he paid.
The young man signalled the conductor once more for his balance. To the surprise of everybody, the conductor explained that he had charged the man an extra one hundred naira for giving him a bad currency note! This was followed by a sudden uncivilized outburst from the young man who up until that moment had acted well-cultured. He threatened fire and hell if his balance was not paid. In no time, the passengers had formed a committee and played judge as the matter had been deemed a national concern.
The conductor was found guilty and after much argument, he paid the young man his balance. By this time, the issue had transcended and a debate on the state of the country had started. The young man had opined that it was best one leaves the country at the first chance, as living the Nigerian dream to the average youth meant leaving Nigeria to live the dream. This he said to debunk an old man’s idea that the youths should do something for the nation.
The debate seemed to die a natural death for a while as the bus fell silent. It all changed again when the driver hit the brake abruptly. A lady who was trying to alight jerked forward and tripped, causing the contents of her bag to fall off.
“Fine girl! See, your husband don fall!” an elderly man said as he pointed to a six-inch purple dildo lying on the bus. Everyone kept their eyes on her as she picked it up without any iota of shame and walked away. This sparked off another debate on morality.
I sat on my seat, watching as these ordinary people related freely with each other. They got on the bus as passengers but became judges, economists, moralists and back to being passengers as they wrapped the journey with a burst of hearty laughter. In one trip they had become everything they could be while being nothing.
The perks then of being a Nigerian is in the fact that we gracefully carry our challenges and remain cheerful through our sorrows. Every Nigerian holds dear the belief that las las we go dey alright, whatever the odds may be. Even though beneath the façade we’re all Suffering and Smiling with a vast majority of our youths living to leave.