My Uncle T is one of my favourite people in the world. My only problem with him is that he is as unreliable as a flat tyre. He always means to but never does. Over the years, I have learnt not to believe anything he says. Believe me, it’s for my own good.
Once upon a time, my mother gave him the task of picking me up from school, transporting me to the airport and putting me on a flight from Lagos to Abuja, where she would be waiting to meet me.
‘I’ll pick you up from school at 1.30pm,’ said Uncle T.
1.30pm came and bags packed, I waited. And waited. And waited. Uncle dearest didn’t show up till 7pm. In the five and a half hours of waiting I cried, cursed and slept intermittently. By the time he arrived, I had missed the last flight out of Lagos and my mother was furious. We were supposed to be travelling from Abuja to Warri early the next morning and determined to stick to her plan, she decided the best thing to do was put me on a night bus to Abuja.
Night bus?! Night Bus? NIGHT BUS?! Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
I was traumatised. In my mind, I was too posh for such modes of transport plus I was scared to death! A 15year old girl travelling on a bus filled with strangers at night? What kind of adult sanctions such madness?!
‘Mummy, what if someone kidnaps me?’
By now you all know my mother was a militant.
‘Are you a fool that someone will kidnap you? If anyone comes near you, scream!
Fear tactics were clearly not working. I resorted to tears.
‘Why are you crying, are you a baby? I’m sure other students from your school enter night buses. You are spoilt. You think your father is Babangida? My friend, get on that bus and don’t let me slap you!’
I don’t know how she planned to slap me over the phone but knowing her, she could have made it happen.
And so I found myself on an Ekene Dili Chukwu night bus full of strange looking human beings. There was only one thing to do to make the journey bearable…sleep. I slept hoping to wake up 10hours later in Abuja.
‘We don reach Ore o!’ someone shouted.
I opened my eyes to find that the bus had stopped in a massive car park. You wouldn’t have known it was 2am. There were bukkas (canteens) everywhere, all blasting a different genre of music. Makossa, Fuji, R&B, reggae, gospel, allahu akbar…name it!
‘You no go comot?’
I looked up to find the bus driver looking in my direction?
Where did I know I was that he wanted me to get down? Hiss.
‘No, I want to stay on the bus.’
‘You no fit siddon for bus. Na only you go dey here.’
Tears flooded my eyes. This is it. Someone will steal me in this place. Uncle T, see what you have caused!
‘Daddy, that’s my house captain!’
I looked behind me to find one of my juniors at school standing behind me, excitedly whispering to her father.
Thank you Jesus!
‘My dear how are you? Are you travelling alone?’
‘I’m fine thank you sir. Yes, I’m alone.’
‘Come out with us. Let’s go and stretch our legs.’
I shook my head.
Daddy must have smelt the terror oozing from my every pore.
‘Have you entered night bus before?’
I shook my head.
‘Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. Oga driver, I beg leave am make she siddon for bus.’
The driver agreed. Phew!
And so I found myself at 2am sitting in an empty bus in the middle of nowhere, quoting bible verses I didn’t know I knew.
A few tears and 30mins later, we were on the move again. My daddy for the night bought me roasted corn and a bar of Bounty…both of which I was afraid to eat. He seemed like a really nice man but at the time gbomo gbomo aka child snatching was a lucrative trade. I couldn’t take chances.
Stuffing the food in my bag, I went back to sleep.
The next time I woke up, it was to the sight of my mother waving at me. We had arrived Abuja.
‘See,’ she said as she wrapped her arms around me, that wasn’t so bad was it?!’
Yes it was mother, yes it was.