AZEEZ THE DRIVER
90% of Nigerian drivers are stark illiterates, yet they rule with pride on our major roads and the highways. They rain curses on one another while failing to obey all traffic rules. Azeez the driver is not an exception; he is my mummy’s driver. One day, he came to take her out but arrived late after she had already gone and met me at home.
Aunty, na only you dey chop everything, i no mind if you gimme something to chop as well. That was his own smart way of asking for food. I gave him and after he was filled, he said to me ‘aunty, how comme you don’t drive? Don’t you feel ashamed when you see small girls on the road driving? Walahi, i will teach you for only three days and you will know it. Since daddy’s car is automatic, it will be easier.
So i agreed and fixed a date with azeez the driver. We started on a Tuesday. He drove through bere-molete- ehin grammar while explaining to me. He told me we were going to field but suddenly parked at ehin grammar and said ‘aunty, you will now drive it. I want to drop this rice at home’. I was shaking and he said ‘if you continue like this, you will never know it. And he went on boastfully to tell me about all the people he had taught who started driving the next day. I summoned courage and got behind the wheel. I felt he was going too far for a beginner yet i kept my thought to myself. I was afraid at the way he was going about it but felt i would catch up faster by his acclaimed method.
Well, i didn’t do so bad except that my hands were shaking; it was not straight on the road. The ehin grammar road is one very narrow road which am not so familiar with so i was trying to be careful not to brush ‘my car’. At some points, he took the car from me when we saw some OYES[or what do they call them] on the road and parked after we passed them for me to resume. So i drove to his house on the first day albeit slowly,hapharzardly and carefully. All the while he kept on boring me with the details of how he ran away from home when he was young[LMAO], how he refused to go to school and so much were his rantings and gesticulations that i struggled to stay focused on the road and maintain my sanity. Yet, he said his conversations should not stop me from focusing on the road. We later went to the field and after some explanations, he came down from the car and told me to continue on my own.[ haaa! I almost fainted] He said he once told a woman he was coaching on the road ‘do you see the trailer coming? And you know two of us are in the car, so if you like face it and kill us. And he left her alone’
Azeez the driver went to sit under a tree and i drove on my own for hours. At a point, he came into the car and slept off while i continued. I got tired and told him it was time to go home. Azeez the driver didn’t tell me if i did well. He said he doesn’t praise people. But there were a lot of people; young boys who gathered and watched in fascination.
My legs were already aching at this time and i told him to take over. I thought the day’s ordeal was over until aeez the driver parked again en route sanyo and asked me to drive. At this point i feared for my life. By the time i got to sanyo express junction, i told him i could go no further.
The next day was a Wednesday. Azeez the driver came on time. All of a sudden, he asked me to reverse the car and drive out of the compound. Mum was watching through the window. She later told me she decided there and then that she would stop me from going the next day. That he was taking everything too fast. That she spent two weeks at driving school before she even attempted moving the car in the compound. I wish she stopped me that day instead of planning to stop me the next.
I drove out of the compound and we faced the express. I drove slowly and with time, my shaky hands became perfect. I drove straight, i avoided trailers and for the first time Azeez the driver was singing my praises. Inside me, i also knew i had overcome my fear of the highway. I felt the allure, the wonder and the pride reminiscent in a fresh driver. He was even saying ‘aunty, i know you’ll also be feeling good within yourself’, i just nodded.
Strangely, nobody hurled curses at me even when i was too slow, no reproof of any sort from commuters. They simply went their own way. Well, probably because of my gender and stature.
I drove to the petrol station, parked and bought fuel meandering my way from new garage towards CRIN- idi ayunre. Azeez the driver said if i did that road ten times, then we would park and he would certify me a good driver[ just like that?] and the next day was to be the lagos/ Ibadan expressway that he wanted to take me to the first day.[ crazy isn’t?]
While i drove, azeez the driver kept boring me with details of his crazy childhood which i wasn’t interested in. At the same time, he was issuing commands ‘ don’t stop for that car, just move on[ i defied him and waited]. ‘There’s a pothole there’ [as if i didn’t have eyes]. He just kept on talking until we got to the busy junction and i applied the brake for those cars to pass. I moved forward a bit and wanted to apply the brake again for another car but azeez the driver kept issuing commands. mistakenly, I accelerated instead and hit a car in front, swerved to the other side and stopped close to a moin moin seller by the road side just before almost entering a shop.
………………………..to be continued
Olasiyan Olanike Yetunde
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