What was roaming in Uwa’s mind was not only the Twenty Thousand Naira that she had in a brown envelop in her brown hand bag. There was more on her mind, more that worried her and gave her utmost concern. She was on her way to Port Harcourt. It wasn’t her first time plying Umuahia to Port Harcourt axis. It wasn’t also going to be her last as she expected. The man who now screamed a deafening Amen behind her – the fair man, was the one she met back at the park where she had purchased her ticket and stood for more than an hour before they were checked into the bus for departure. The man’s fairness had dots of red pigments probably from over bleaching with slightly darkened knuckles like the back of rotten plantain. The fair man that could be in his late twenties now sat behind her in the eight sitter bus. Back at the park before they boarded, he had priced the fifty naira roasted corn of the corn seller for thirty naira.
“At Igbere, three is for Fifty Naira,” he said, “how would I now buy one for Fifty Naira. Is it because it is roasted?"
The seller replied him, “go back to Igbere and buy it and come let me roast it for you.”
The seller’s sarcastic answer made Uwa who had been eavesdropping on their conversation to chuckle. The fair man caught her chuckling and probably thought that she chuckled in appreciation of his appearance - his dressing, his heavily starched striped blue long-sleeved shirt, his striped green trouser. On his collar was knotted a green broad tie, very broad and long that it hid the buttons of his shirts and the knuckles of his belt. He appeared to be someone who thought himself highly fashioned while his appearance portrayed otherwise.
“Would you like one?” He said to Uwa
“One what?” Uwa was confused as to why he chose this question would you like one to begin a conversation with her.
“This” he said, raising the corn he had picked close to her face by the stalk. Before Uwa could shake her head dismissively to say, no, he had slipped out one of the old newspapers from underneath the seller’s basin in which her coal and fire beamed with which she roasted and wrapped the corn and stretched it toward her. She didn’t want to belittle him, disregard his effort in wrapping it. So, she took it, never said thank you and endured the hotness and the steam from the old newspaper as it made her hand moist. She knew at that moment that the fair man whose hair was gelled down to his scalp had purchased random conversations with her by offering her the roasted steaming corn. He started his random conversations with,
“Where are you going?"
She wanted to ask him too in the sarcastic manner of one who should have known better. Instead, she said, “Port Harcourt of course. Aren’t you going to Port Harcourt too?” “I am.” He affirmed. There seemed to be silence between them, the kind of silence that allowed the man to think through his next question.
“Do you live in Port Harcourt?” he finally asked again. He spoke English so carefully as one mindful of making mistakes.
“No, I am running a program.” This was when the man who was charged with boarding the bus called every passenger to join in that the bus was ready for departure.
They hadn’t driven more than five minutes away from the park when a dark elderly woman on whose forehead bore wrinkles started praying. Her wrinkles were hedged by a wig, the wig that covered her brown hair that was fluffy underneath. The woman shouted, “Halleluiah!” a flimsy ‘amen’ erupted from the back.
“That amen is not for my God. If you know you are a child of God, say a louder amen.” A higher amen came from around Uwa.
The woman was still not satisfied. So, she said, “If you know you want to get to Port Harcourt in peace and not in pieces, shout the loudest amen.” The Amen this time did not only erupt from her back and around her but also from the two men sitting in front beside the driver. It was deafening – the amen.
A short story centred around a bus ride to Port Harcourt were a young girl expresses sarcasm in her thoughts and towards the commuters happening to be going in the same direction as hers and how abruptly her mission in Port Harcourt came to a sudden conclusion. You will definitely have a laugh and more as you read the subsequent parts.
Stay tuned for part 2 next week Thursday. Please subscribe, share with your loved ones, leave a comment and like. Thanks.