Ibadan:Through the eyes of a visitor
The rusty iron sheets which are the hallmark of the ancient city appears darker and more dirty. Traffic crawls along the Iwo road expressway towards the Lagos/ibadan axis.
Drivers cursing and yelling at other road users, a teenager selling coke had abused all the women that laughed in the bus when her coke was returned because it wasn’t cold. They all yelled a curse in return. Curses flying up and down.
A woman who joined the bus around ikire had unwrapped something dark from her bag and began to eat. The pungent smell caught my nostril and I turned sharply. I covered my nose and shifted uncomfortably.
Before I could give her a murderous look, she had wrapped the rest having sensed my body language. It was IRU, that dry, foul smelling locust bean. She was chewing it like candy. Who does that in a public transport? Other people didn’t mind….very weird…#sighs# This was how the ancient city welcomed me.
“I will not stop at tollgate o”, the driver bellowed at me.
“But you are going to Lagos. Why won’t you stop for me at toll gate’
Did you tell me you were going to stop at tollgate when you entered?”
Oh, I am so sorry. I didn’t know I was supposed to tell you. Drop me there biko, I responded calmly, masking my anger. I wasn’t prepared to engage in a driver-passenger wahala after a long journey.
I was coming from Ekiti state, tired, hungry and exhausted.I was debating whether to hire a cab or call my brother to pick me up. The first cabbie said 1500. I threw my head back and laughed. The journey to my house was just 10mins and would normally be covered by a 50naira bike or 30naira tricycle. But I had a heavy bag and I was too tired to walk across.
Do I look like those people who just returned from ‘the abroad’? I asked the #uncircumcised philistine# sorry driver.
I cannot go for less than that,” he said
I had found my way home on a bike later, happily dashing him 200naira.
The ibadan I usually looked forward to, didn’t welcome me with open arms. Maybe I am now outgrowing the city too because I didn’t experience the giddiness I always felt anytime home beckons. But, maybe, just maybe this is way deeper than I think.
Maybe its because there’s no momma waiting for me at home. No food waiting for me. So I had bought take-away on my way into the city.
I got home to the sound of a dog. Who keeps dog in this time of recession? Who buys heavy bags of dog food when human beings are not well fed. It is my prodigal brother. He loves dogs more than his life.
I arrive to see the changes in my father’s sprawling edifice. Strangers called tenants now occupy the major rooms outside paying less than 10 dollars per year. I screamed holy murder.
But hear dad
” You keep comparing houses with abuja. Things are relatively cheap here. We should be glad that people are staying in the compound else the building falls down one day.”
That’s what death does. It changes everything. Changes your plans. Makes you arrive home without a welcome.
The next few days…..
Many more curse words from road users and passersby. Agbero and conductor fighting, a lady driving a tricycle. Then my eyes caught an inscription: ASANLAYE SINCE 1958, GeNeRAL MERCHANDISE. That’s the name of a spare part shop.#I sighed# Of all the decent ways to name a shop. (Asanlaye means this world is vanity since 1958).
The Iwo road to tollgate expressway is now a nightmare. A trailer lost its bearing and crowd were gathered. Trust ibadan people, they must stand and look. Nothing seems to hurry them. They have all the time in the world to just stand, curse, gossip and stare.
When I was not peeping through the window at nothing in particular, I was staring at the goats in their one bedroom apartment. I had to feed them some days. So, when the FCT beckoned, I had to return happily.
But not before meeting an amiable publisher. One of the good reasons I was forced to come down. Ibadan is the headquarter of book publishing in Nigeria and also being the land of my birth, I wouldn’t compromise that chance for anything in the world.
On this note, I wish to say happy new year to all my amiable readers. You are all appreciated. Thank you for staying on this blog. May this year spring better surprises for us all.