This is the first in my wakajugbe series, based on experiences I have while roaming aimlessly like someone who's looking for the perfect man. Some exaggerated, some downplayed, all ending with me as the good guy. :)
It was like an ordinary day, ergo, this being Lagos, there definitely was a wakajugbe experience to be had. And yours truly was out searching for it by simply not searching for it. Eko o ni baje, good ol’ Lagos did not disappoint me. Still on my one-man protest against danfo drivers, I was showing them in a not very logical way who was the boss by taking a taxi which was more expensive, to my destination, which as always, is none of your business, esteemed reader.
I was in the backseat of the taxi, working hard at not letting my thoughts reflect on my face, said thoughts being; the discretion of allowing transportation take such a huge bite out of my pocket, and why I shouldn’t reduce the driver’s fare since he partially did not know where we were going. So far gone was I in grumbleland that I missed the turning I was supposed to direct Baba Riliwan, as I was to later learn was his name, to take. It was not my fault , it was the devil. I am especially sure of this fact because it was just as we passed the turning that I came back to life.
Being so close to the turning, you, especially those of you who did the same thing today can understand how easy it was to reverse a bit and take the turning. Alas, that pitchfork wielding creature was not done with me. At that ill-fated moment, a minion of hades, aka Lastma was hitching a ride on a commercial bike just behind us. Did I forget to mention that I was in a hurry? The LASTMA official tells his chauffeur to cruise right beside us. He smiles and says hi, more appropriately, “ekaasan” upon which I notice he has two gold teeth, a look of utter glee, and very menacing eyes. Baba Riliwan the expert sweet talker started referring to him as Alhaji from then on. I thought he was more like lil wayne.
Alhaji (Wayne), with utmost respect asks Baba Riliwan to open the passenger door. Baba Riliwan complies and immediately launches into a mixture of praise singing, plus an appeal to pity, a plea for forgiveness, and throws in there somewhere, the fact that his wife is in the hospital. Well well! look who’s been keeping secrets.
Alhaji (Wayne) listens sympathetically for a few minutes, interjecting with the politically correct amount of ‘eeyahs’. Then his phone, which must have been in silent mode rings, and after a lengthy conversation, he hangs up. He looks at Baba Rilwan with a grave face and informs him that he is very sorry that he would not be able to help him. The reason for this being that the call he just received was from his boss who said the governor was going to pass that route very soon. Thus he could not forgive our transgression. How that related to us now? You, my dear reader would be better off asking Plato.
Five minutes later, we were still in the car and as Baba Rilwan laid the sob story on even thicker, I took an inventory of our present situation. One, we had an Alhaji(Wayne) who insisted on taking us to the station. Two, this Alhaji(Wayne) , using his mecca teeth to buttress his point has informed us that he did not need our money. Three, he also informed us that we would pay nothing less than fifty Tauzin (his words, not mine) on getting to the station. I secretly wondered if that was another currency, but declined to ask. Four, I just learned that my governor had the all seeing eye of Horus. And there was the little matter of me being late.
My mind began to taunt me. I mentally travelled to the parallel universe in which I had instead entered a Danfo and thus did not have to go through this. I realized that if I had entered a Danfo and the driver had been caught by LASTMA, I would have gotten down without the slightest tug on my conscience. I arrived back on earth just in time to see that we were moving again.
“Alhaji ejoo? First customer ti mo ma gbe leni leleyi, mi o ti pa owo kankan”. Alhaji (Wayne) turned deaf ears. Baba Rilwan decided to appeal to his religiousness. He urged Alhaji(Wayne) to remember that this was the fasting period and he had an obligation to be nice to his fellow Muslims. Alhaji (Wayne), unmoved, told him to keep driving to the station.
At this point, yours truly cleared her voice, prepared to end it all. After all I was a babe. First I smiled, however my often planet shifting smile had no impact whatsoever on him. Not to be deterred, I ploughed on. “Good afternoon sir.” Baba Rilwan shot me a look of alarm and mouthed the word “Alhaji”. I recovered quickly and tried again “Good afternoon Alhaji Wayne, I’m really very sorry about what happened, I was actually supposed to direct him, but I didn’t look up in time. The whole thing is actually my fault. I take responsibility for it. Please don’t punish him for something I caused. My noble self was surprised when he said “beht madam, that place is espressway nau? If another car is at your backside now, doo-oo know how many accident it ken coz?”Refusing to flinch at the refernce to my backside,I replied “Yes I do, but we didn’t see any car behind us. “Ehn ehn? Da is why you af do sush a tin?” I decided to change tactics “Alhaji e maa binu, we are very sorry, the thing is ……….I am a presswoman and….” As soon as he heard that, I saw, very literally, the reason why my mother, said never to put a lit match near a gallon of fuel.”anden?? evin, if you are a preiz, I say anden? Okay nau, there is nothing I have to say, when we rish the station, you wee be explaining. Fifty Tauzin!!! Da is what you wee drop before we allow you to go”.
I saw my destination, first looking out of my window, then I watched it through the rear window as it finally disappeared from my sight. Station here we come. Throughout this time, Alhaji(Wayne) kept reminding us, that he didn’t need our money, and that he could actually let us go if he wanted. However, when we begged him to do so, he looked at us as if we were blue and walking on our heads until we dropped the issue. Having appealed to him with his wives, kids if any, mother, religion, and every other thing that would melt a normal homo sapiens’ heart, we finally got to the station. However, as we approached the gate, Alhaji(Wayne) instructed us to turn into a side street.
He then began the speech that would surpass my lower jaw’s expectations on how low it could drop. He began by repeating that he really could let us go if he wanted but he wanted us to learn a lesson. I was going to ask what the waste of your time and praise singing was, but I refrained. He went on to say that this was in our interest as he did not want us to have to pay fifty“Tauzin” naira. He emphasized again that it wasn’t like he needed our money. He then got round to the million dollar question, which was, how much Baba Rili was willing to in his words “declare”. Baba Rili started begging, saying he had no money to give him. Alhaji(Wayne) asked who wanted his money. He picked up his phone and told the person on the other end that he was bringing in offenders. Its still baffling how I missed the part where he actually dialled a number. Maybe his was different .
He told us how sorry he was for us and how we would drop nothing less than fifty “Tauzin” today. May I at this point say that he had done a very good job of making fifty Tauzin looked like a death sentence; I still shiver when someone says it. Baba Rili stretched a five hundred naira note to him, but he blatantly refused to be insulted with such. He said that out of the goodness of his heart, and because of all the problems he had shared with him, he could accept five thousand. Baba Rili who I had at this point concluded had a flair for the dramatic, threw his hands on his head. Following his lead, I did the same and we raised our voices as one in begging. As far as getting results went though, we could have been begging him to do the exact opposite.
Pedestrians walked by and gave us knowing looks of pity. More time passed, and Alhaji did not budge. Ever the humanitarian, he was hell-bent on “helping us”. Finally baba Rili got down from the car, saying he needed to ask his brother, who was a mechanic nearby for money. With the two of us left in the car, his demeanour suddenly changed as he turned toward me. “Baby, bawo ni nau?” I was too stupefied to think of an answer. He took that as encouragement and continued. He warned me not to underrate him just because I saw him in his uniform. He also let me know that he didn’t usually socialize with offenders but there was something about me. As a matter of fact, I was the reason why he stopped us. I was so very flattered. He said he could take care of me, that we would help each other. Baba Riliwan finally rescued me by coming back. He gave him a one thousand naira note which he crisply informed Alhaji(Wayne) was his last price. To utmost surprise and relief, he took it and left. We finally drove off as I tried to scrape my jaw off the floor, trying to picture what his reaction would be when he realized the number he had stored in my name, was that of my church’s prayer hotline.