Living in Lagos forces you to develop several survival skills… Or should I say talents? Jumping Danfos’ is one of mine.
Sometimes, I get to the bus stop and I meet a sea of heads. I instinctively know that there is no bus or there has been a mad rush for one. It is never “dem top money”. Lagosians are a disloyal lot. If a conductor were to add 50 naira to the normal fare, some Lagosians, especially salary earners who have to be at work before 8am, would fly into the bus, no questions asked, instead of waiting it out in solidarity to force the prices down.
However, hiked fares are not today’s topic. Talent is.
On getting to the bus stop and I discover a crowd, I do these things: Remove my earpiece and place them in my bag, zip up my bag properly, remove the straps of the handbag from my shoulders or arm and place the bag under my armpit in a tight clutch. The next thing is to ‘set’ my leg in a forward motion so that when the bus arrives – FIAM! I fly. And by ‘fly’, I mean dive in through the door or window – into the bus, sometimes amazing myself and other passengers with my agility. (Shey you see say lepa get advantages if you comot Kama Sutra?)
I am also an expert at hanging, but these days, when I offer to ‘tamo’, the passengers will warn the conductor, “No allow am hang o… Na woman… Woman, oya come siddon inside…” So I just take the seat gladly offered by a concerned male who thinks he has saved a woman from “dying”. (If I vex, I no go pay)
I have lived in Lagos all my life, if you are to exclude brief stunts in Abuja for vacation and Abia, Ekiti and Ogun for schooling. Of course, that is excluding my trips to Anambra (God forbid I say I am not going. Na village meeting things o! In their voice ‘the geh dinnor want to marry or know how to speak Igbo veli veli well’) Akuko di iche iche!
I’m not one to boast, but sincerely, I cannot get missing in Lagos, whether I have transport fare or not. Asides jumping buses, flying in through windows when necessary and tamo-ing, I have other talents such as “Ejo sah… Let someborri epp me in this bus…” Or “E saanu mi, boda mi conductor, epp me, I no get transport”.
Three things will happen in this situation: I receive a dirty slap (Lagos conductors drink kai-kai a lot). Or a concerned passenger would say, “See fine geh wey no get money. Enter jaré.” Or a disgruntled passenger would say, “Ashawo oshi! Ko shi lo jaré!”
Other talents of mine include having the exact transport fares (Hol’ ya change o! Mi o ni shanji o!) to avoid early morning insults or refusing to pay an extra dime even if I have the money (I don’t try this often though. A conductor tore my bra strap one day, na so one breast come high pass the other).
I am learning new talents because I know they will come in handy some day. Maybe trekking the whole Third Mainland Bridge or swimming the waters of Ebute Metta.
This is Lagos, my beloved city of nouveau talents.