The bus driver took a detour towards the busy Agege Motor road. My several pleas for the driver to stop fell on deaf ears, until he arrived at the final bus-stop.
‘Were you sleeping when i passed your bus-stop?’ the driver sneered, ‘you are very lucky you’re not the only passenger left in this bus; otherwise…’ he paused, licking his lips hungrily, ‘are you married?’
I hissed; without uttering a word, i retraced my steps back to my stop. And while I deliberated on the thousand and one bills to offset with the money i received, I felt a familiar movement in my bag.
Four missed calls! Nana, must really be mad at me.
‘Hello, have you seen the money I sent you?’ Nana asked in an odd quiet manner.
‘Yes. Thank you very much ma.’
‘That’s for your travelling expenses,’ the quiet tone lingered.
‘Thank you, ma; God bless, you…’
‘Handsets are prompt communication gadgets!’ Nana’s real authoritative outburst came to the fore, ‘the next time I remind you of how to use your handset, you won’t like the way i would talk to you!’
‘I’m sorry…I’m sorry ma…’
Nana hung up the phone leaving me with a feeling of a school girl scolded for pooing on her dress.
‘Our land-lord has increased the house rent again!’ Mama Timi chorused into my ears the moment I got home.
Who cares? I mused.
‘If he likes, let him triple the rent, I don’t care!’ I replied with an air of indifference.
‘Dabira, you sound so confident,’ Mama Timi looked around about the public house which accommodated eleven families, ‘is there a man in your life now?’
‘There’s no man yet, but my life is about to take a dramatic turn. I would tell you about it later.’
With that, I dismissed her and retired into my room. Every other news that day paled in significance as far as my travelling was concerned.
I had barely finished listening to the news when my phone blared loudly like a siren. Afraid it could be Nana, I quickly grabbed the device as though it was my only lifeline.
‘Hello, Dabira,’ a distress voice jolted my ear.
The call was from Iya Goke, my mother’s younger sister. How strange, Iya Goke had never called me in a long while.
‘Good evening, Iya Goke, ‘ I answered calmly.
‘Your mother is very sick…’ she blurted out a detailed account of my mother’s litany of pains and when she eventually handed the phone to my sick mother, the croaky voice which greeted me melted my heart.
‘You would be fine, mama,’ I assured her stifling the panicky tone in my voice, ‘I would be at Ibadan by Tuesday.’
At the end of the call, my erstwhile excitement of travelling out, quietly took the back seat in my emotionally impaired mind.
Ojota Motor Park was alive as usual when I arrived at the garage at about 9.00 am. Suddenly, a loud gunshot blared into the air. Initially, i dismissed it as a warning shot from the Police escort leaving the bank with the bullion van. But few minutes later, series of more gunshots followed suit.
Cold chill ran through my veins. Commuters and traders scampered for safety. Knowing how futile it would be to run anywhere, I took solace at the back of a building.
After several exchange of shots between the law enforcement agents and the robbers, sanity finally returned to the once frightening zone.
With knees trembling and hands shaking, I came out of my hiding place and boarded the bus to Ibadan.
Passengers were too shocked to discuss the ugly scene as no one knew if one or two of the accomplices were also part of the passengers.
As the bus wobbled along the pot-holes on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, my mind darted aimlessly until it settled on the dream I had the previous night. it was very funny that I shared some of the details with a lady seated beside me.
I was on an official assignment for my madam,’ I narrated, ‘suddenly, my phone began to ring loudly, but ironically, it was inaudible to me!’
‘Dreams, sometimes are the product of our imaginations,’ the lady replied.
As our journey progressed, i became more acquainted with the lady. And in a bid to take her number, I reached for my phone in my bag, but shockingly, my handset was missing!
TO BE CONTINUED…