By Dr Wilson Orhiunu (Babawilly)
Between 1975 to 1980 was the peak of my Danfo bus patronage. There were also spells of Molue transportation. The Yaba to Adeniran Ogunsanya Street Bus 88 was how we left Yaba Bus stop every afternoon curtesy of the Lagos City Transport Corporation (LSTC).
Yaba in the afternoon was a Mecca of beauties. Like a watering hole in the East African Serengeti everyone was there to flex. The babes were the Flamingos especially those MG (Methodist Girls) babes with Red check uniforms.
Going on any form of transportation was a business transaction. The LSTC conductor had a metal machine around his neck which dispensed tickets following payment. The Danfo conductor was a bit crude and direct. ‘Owo da?’ they asked pointing a cupped hand full of coins in your face. Exemption from paying the bus fares could be by finding that a relative coincidentally on the bus and they pay your fare, being an agbero and just saying ‘staff!’ , or in long haul coach rides; sitting on a small wooden stool on the aisle called attachment.
There were three ways to ride the buses: sitting, standing and lapping (sitting on someone else’s laps). While a few Danfo conductors banned lapping, most would allow it. And this was how we avoided paying Bus fares. Someone could volunteer to lap you and you both shared the bus fare for sweets and ice cream. Sometimes we lapped on humanitarian grounds; when the lappe had no money or when in the LSTC bus the lappe is unable to stand for long.
(PS: everyone paid for a ticket on an LSTC bus whether you got a seat or not)
That was how I ended up lapping Agnes. Now Agnes was tall and dark. She had red lips that looked permanently stained with fresh Niger Delta Palm Oil, a low cut hair style, enchanting smile and a body that swayed in the wind rhythmically when she walked. I was deeply in love with her as I was with 14 other girls (Love and Sheltox definitely in the air). Agnes was the kind of girl for whom I would gladly stretch out my leg for as a sacrificial replacement, if I saw a Black Mamba about to bite her leg. I could ‘chop poison’ for her for it was an ‘I go die’ love. On this day we rushed and fought to get into the bus and I had an aisle seat. While I was breathing heavily recovering from the mad rush, the bus moved and I noticed her standing.
‘I am tired, can you lap me?’ was the music I heard from her lips
I would have gladly given up my seat for her but her offer was better. I threw away my school bag and she sat on my laps. As we moved along she turned round to chat and I worried she could feel my heart beating fast. It felt like the whole bus could hear it. I prayed for ‘go slow’.
The bad kind of traffic jam; that lasted six hours, so that I could enjoy her company. Just a touch of love by the band Slave was playing in my mind. She had my heart in shackles and my ankles in fetters. I loved it. The Bus was soon on Western Avenue. I wished the trip would never end. That was when I felt a bone on my thigh. I later learnt it to be the Ischial tuberosity. As she sat motionless that bone dug deeper into my thigh. My right leg went dead. She turned round talking and smiling but I stopped hearing her words. Part of me said ‘Wilson, you are enjoying’ and another part of me said ‘Wilson, you are dying’.
The right leg got worse but I put on a brave face. The electricity and plumbing to my right leg got cut off. This was Baba nla suffering and smilling. I let her seat on me just a little bit till we got to her Bus stop; Shell Club. I waved her goodbye through the window and then shed a hot tear or two. I massaged my right thigh but it didn’t work. I limped off at my stop and had to wait twenty minutes for my right leg to wake up. Teenage love was a beautiful thing. Even when it was just a little bit.
Credit: Facebook Page of Wilson Orhiunu.
Dr Wilson Orhiunu is the author of the book, The Naija Food Philosopher (available on Amazon) and his latest book on his Childhood memories entitled : It takes a village ; is coming out soon.