The Adventurous Metropolis by Barakah Alim


‘If you perceive me behave cynically, Lagos turned me so.’


‘Park 2, Park 2, Park 2.’ The conductor on the approaching bus, yelled. I waved my hand to stop it. I lifted my heavy luggage to board it, the unnerving conductor scorning at me. ‘This is Lagos, alaye enter, make una hurry.’‘May you please help me with the luggage? It is quite heavy. ’He lifted my luggage and threw it in the bus. I shot him a spiteful look and carried my luggage on my lap, sitting at the end of the middle bench, comfortably. The bus is on halt to convey other passengers boarding it.

Soon, a pudgy woman entered and sat beside me. I greeted her and she replied brusquely, concentrating on the boiled groundnuts, she was chewing. She had perforated her ears in seven different places, and adorned them with earrings, of different sizes. The toasting weather did not justify the several colors on her skin. Her purple veins replicated every doubting instinct about her bleached body. She has really snowed her skin to the extent that it can be mashed into an imperfect roll.

‘Why are you staring at me?’ Her bellyaching voice jeered me from my cogitations.‘Nothing, ma,’ I replied.‘Am I supposed to tell you that you should help me carry my luggage, ehnn? Spoilt child. You see an elderly woman carrying something heavy; you can’t help her with it. Is that how you were taught? Foolish girl! You lack home training. Instead of you to do that, you were looking at me, as if I swallowed your mother.’ She hissed and carried her heavy luggage on the one on my lap. ‘Ma,the luggage on my lap is heavy,’ I blurted out with such malignant look.‘Inform me that your mother at home is visually impaired. Why are Lagos youths so disrespectful like this, ehnn? So, if I am your mother, you won’t help me, abi?’ She hissed and adjusted herself, comfortably.

I hissed mildly and mumbled silently, stating how dissatisfied I feel. I shifted my gaze to the window and beckoned at the hawker selling chips.‘How much is it?’‘Na two fifty naira.’I gave him the money and he handed me a pack of chips, instead of two.‘Where is the remaining one?’ ‘One na fifty naira.’‘I thought you said two is fifty naira.’ He left, before I concluded my speech.‘Hahahahaha.’ She laughed, maniacally.

‘I can now see that you are a confirmed fool. Wait, are you just coming to Lagos?’‘Yes,’ I replied, bitterly.’Haaaaa.’ She said, stretching her remark, amidst scornful laughter. ’No wonder. That is how some workers in Lagos do. You don’t give them money before goods; you do it vice versa. Those workers can be very silly at times. Sometimes, if you were to collect change, they would deny that they do not have change, and elope with it. This is Lagos, my dear. Be wise.’The sudden push abrupt her unappreciated sermon. Two more women that are obese joined us on the bench. They squeezed me more to the end, that I nearly hit my head, on the windowpane.

Suddenly, I felt wetness on my leg.‘Chisome! Chisome! Chisome! What kind of sleep is this that you poured water on the floor? What is your problem? Where are you shifting to?’I cleared my bleary eyes and adjusted myself, on the raffia mat. ‘So, I was dreaming?’‘Dreaming? Dreaming about what, biko?’‘That I was in a bus in Lagos heading, to my sister’s place.’‘Is it because you will be going to Lagos today? You are overexcited abi, ehn? If not for my unstable health, I would have gone to collect the money, for your exams, myself. Make sure you behave well, and help your sister to make more sales, so that she would be able to give you the money, stress-free. Lagos is not like Onitsha here-o. There are many dangerous people there, as I have heard many tales, about the city.’‘I will behave well mama,’ I replied.


‘Oya! Get up, and do the necessary things. Be fast about it, and get yourself dressed quickly, so that you don’t keep the driver waiting.”Okay mama.’ I replied, and, hurriedly did my house chores, and dressed myself up. I was combing my crocheted hair, when I heard the blaring sound, of the taxi, that would convey me, to my destination.

My mum called me out.‘Chisoooooome, the driver is here.’’I know ma. I am coming.”Be fast. What are you still doing?”I am through.’ I came outside taking faltering steps, because of my heavy luggage. The man collected it from me, and put in the boot.’Are you spending eternity there that you packed so many clothes? Is it not just three weeks, ehhn?’ She hissed and gave the driver some money, and a paper.‘That is the transport fare, the address, and her sister’s number. Call her, when you reach there.’’Okay.’ The driver replied.’Please, drive gently. God will see you through, safely.’

She handed me some money, and hugged me, tightly.’Chisome, please behave well oooo.”Mama, I have heard you, I will.’ I entered the taxi, and waved at her. She waved at me too, until the car moved out of her sight. I readjusted myself, to keep me, from dozing off. I do not want to sleep, in order to avoid another frightening dream. I do not even want to think about the dream, thinking about it would make me prejudge Lagos, and I do not want to do that over a mere dream, that some people do consider silly.

I shifted my gaze to the window watching as we fled past people and buildings. I did that for hours -turning my profile, from left to right, and then, front to back, at intervals, to catch a glimpse of the environment we are motioning, through. After a while, I sank comfortably into the chair, rested my back, and reflexively drifted into sleep……

The final part of this short story will be posted next week Friday, subscribe to our website to stay updated

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Pencilmarks and Scribbles Magazine was founded in 2017 by Clara Jack to be a home for African writers, asking them to come as they are and giving them room for growth. The publication aims to give back to the Nigerian Literary scene for the things it has given us.