You left home at 6:49 in a rush because you were nineteen minutes late, but not before applying an extra coat of the indigo lipstick that makes little children wail when you smile at them. You tried to stop a bike but he looked at your lips and shook his head, his action made you grimace and decide to head to Kilo instead of the Lawanson you’d been aiming for. Finding your way to Kilo would involve two different keke rides or one keke and one okada, you chose the latter option even before you began.
At the end of the first keke ride, you found that there was no okada to Kilo, only Kekes. You walked to the line of kekes waiting for humans to pay fifty naira to fill them up, still hoping for a bike. It’s unusual to not find a line of bikes waiting for people with a hundred naira to pay, just before swinging ikebes of different sizes and shapes on the padded seat atop the engine and zooming off. Something whispered to you that ‘maybe it’s a sign that you shouldn’t take a bike this morning’, you give the ‘something’ banana to stuff its mouth with. You find an okada ridden by a sturdy looking young man in a white shirt.
“Kilo!” You called out and he turned his bike and stopped.
You jumped on- no comment on the size and shape of your own ikebe, and he didn’t zoom off as expected. Instead he took you on a sedate pace that even your mother would have approved of and you relaxed. When he took a detour that wasn’t the normal route, you didn’t even flinch despite your father’s voice playing one of his scary stories of kidnapping and abduction while your mother’s gentle voice reminded you of the scar on your right leg, a few inches above your ankle that’s testament of your refusal on Good Friday, to listen to her admonition to stop boarding bikes and wait for a bus instead. You remind the voices that you were only crossing the road when you were knocked down by a car, and they too stuffed their mouths with banana- which is your favourite fruit by the way.
Then he stopped the okada in the center of a T-junction and told you to come down. You squinted at him through your glasses and he correctly interpreted the gesture as an inquiry on his sanity.
“No be Akinkunmi be this?”
“Wetin consain me with Akinkunmi?” you realise that his sanity was indeed impaired.
“No be Akinkunmi you talk? I even ask you three times” His voice rose and a small chill hugged your heart.
“I tell you Kilo, me and you no talk anything again” you are standing on the road now, wondering how you would go to work. The bananas you’d given the voices evaporated and they were yakking at full volume.
“When I dey enter this road, why you no talk”
“I think say you dey run from Agbero, say you no wan pay money”
“Road no dey here, I bin they wait for you to talk since say you want stop”
“Make I take you back to the road” he said and you clambered on with a grateful heart.
You offered him hundred naira at the junction and he waved it off before zooming back to where you met him. The okada men that passed you at the junction demanded a hundred naira- the little thieves! So you decided to obey the voices and cross the road and hope you’d meet a keke with space for a passenger in the middle of the route. You get one in thirty seconds and the voices began to cackle at your foolishness and begin to recite the proverbs your parents pepperred you with when you’d come to tell them you should have followed their advice in the first place, you glared at the voices but they ignored you, finding too much pleasure in your discomfort.
You sighed as the CMS bound bus moved out of the park just you alighted from the keke, you boarded the next bus and promised yourself and the voices that you’d listen to them more carefully in the future. They began to hum, recalling the many times you’d broken the promise, you pulled out your headphones, set up the Bluetooth connection and selected your Michael Jackson playlist and watched the voices fade before the maestro.
It’s 7:44 and you look out of the window to see Costain bus stop through a veil of rain, you remember how ecstatic you were when you noticed the blast of light from sunrise wiggling into your room, you’d announced the advent of the sun to your father and he asked if that meant no umbrellas for the day. You laughed at the thought of not carrying an umbrella in July in the coastal city of Lagos and you checked your bag for your umbrella. In transferring your things from the handbag you’d used yesterday to the backpack you were carrying today, you’d forgotten to put two very important items- your umbrella and your spare pair of glasses.
It’s 7:56 and you’re still in the traffic on the bridge descending to Marina, today’s traffic is wearing an Oswald Boateng a three-piece suit, a cravat, Italian shoes- of course! And Chris Aire diamond cufflinks.
It’s 8:26 as the bus pulls out of CMS-Ajah park to take you to Victoria Island, you’re officially late to work, Lagos traffic is a horny female dog whose mother wasn’t married to her father but you love it anyway.
A certain friend of yours is giving a presentation at work on hyperkalemia, or is it hypokalemia? And you have to refresh your memory on the thing so you wouldn’t be clueless when he starts to ‘pour stuff’. You open the pages you’d bookmarked on your browser and memories hit you, terms like ‘Type B intercalated cells in the collecting duct’, ‘concomitant’ ‘action potential’ wing you back to Pharmacy LT3 at an elliptical angle.
Because you do not want to deal with the pesky memories, you bring out Fiona- your tablet, and begin to write across her face.
PS: you get to work before 9am and even get to watch your friend ace the presentation on hypokalemia and hyperkalemia too, you feel a certain kind of maternal pride as he gestures across the hallway that’s the makeshift meeting room.