Akoka 6.50 am.
The bus is almost full save for three seats. There is no conductor but a haggard looking driver yelling “Yaba, Yaba!”. We wait for a few seconds before another passenger enters. She is light skinned; whether natural or cream induced, I know not. She is chewing gum like the stubborn pregnant goat on my street. “Please, adjust your body for me” she says. I wonder what adjusting one’s body means.
There are two seats left. A tall dark man dressed in pristine white shirt and black trousers approaches the bus. There is a fat woman standing timidly at his back and two children beside him. The woman is unkempt: loose brown, almost faded spaghetti straps, hair in disarray, saggy boobs and stretch marks on her arms as long as the birthmark on my favorite bread. He addresses her “My darling, there are two seats left. Take the children in this one”. He makes way for two school children to take the last vacant seat at the back and pulls the connecting seat for the woman.
“Driver, your motor is full up”. It is the fair girl. I want to tell her to stick to pidgin or Yoruba or Igbo. Communicating in English is not necessary. “My love, do you have enough money?” the tall man says this in soft whispers to the fat woman. He leans in, touching her face while speaking. “Yes”, she replies. “That’s good. I am late for work. I have to go.” He turns to the children at the back and says “Boys, I love you”. They chorus “I love you, daddy”. He turns to the woman and gives her a peck on the forehead. “My darling, call me when you drop the boys at school”. He walks a few steps forward and waits for his ride. By this time, the passengers are impatient. “Driver, na here you wan sleep? Abeg move this motor! Which kain driver be this one?”
The woman turns to her fellow passengers and tells them to make room for her. It is clear that there is no space but she keeps saying “Adjust, please”. She is pleading but the girl at the extreme is not having it. “Madam, there is no space. Where do you want me to go?” The fat woman says “I am almost falling off, here”. The lady at the end turns to the woman, her hands in the air “Abeg o, make nobody inconvenience me for this bus. All of us pay for one seat. If the motor no reach you, pay for two seat(sic). No be me send you make you carry fat everywhere”.
A deathly calm descends the bus. The driver is still; almost transfixed. I rest my eyes on the woman. Perhaps, I am the only one not in shock. I am used to insults in buses because of my size too. They go: “Lepa, enter that seat. You get small nyansh Or Lepa, you no go shift? You no suppose complain.You portable na” The woman tries to use her hands to shield her stretch marks and flabby breasts. She is clearly distressed. She raises her head and sends a wobbly smile to her husband who is a few feet away. He waves; she waves back.
The driver finally puts the key in the ignition and inches out of the park. The bus moves close to the man and he shouts I love you. She does not say I love you too.
Perhaps, she does not believe him.