I needed to pee, and I needed to go bad. I quickened my steps as I walked from the bus stop to the bikes stand, ‘almost home’ I thought, silently willing my bladders to hold on a bit more. “Ah customer, oya, estate abi?” they started shouting as I got close to them. I always found that annoying, do they have to shout that I am a ‘customer’. I really need to fight my fear of driving on this crazy Lagos roads, so that all this okada and danfo hustling can end (or actually have the money to buy the car sef *sigh*). I made my way to a nice looking okadadude, folded my skirts and hopped on amidst shout of “Aunty na me carry you yesterday na” “Aunty tomorrow I go carry you o!” We zoomed off, the bike almost flying off the ground. I held on tight, one hand holding on to the bike, the other holding on to my handbag and the dusty helmet; there’s no way I’m putting that on my head. There was the occasional ‘easyooo, I no dey rush’ as the bike ‘flew’ me home but they just never listen, I just sat there, holding on tight, almost home, almost home.
He stopped me in front of my house, without my directing him, I guess I really am his customer. I alighted, hoping I hadn’t flashed my undies to the gateman sitting in front of the gate. I handed over a N100 note and stretched my hand expecting to be given my change. ‘Ah aunty, u no go leave change today’ he said grinning with his tobacco stained teeth. I waved him off and ran into the compound, making my way up the stairs. Usually, I made it a point of duty to always collect my change, no matter how small, from everyone: the shoe maker, the bus conductor, the iya Bashira food joint, the okada man, but today, there is a pressing matter of having to use the toilet so I had to let that N50 go.
As I ran up the stairs, I was already calling out my cousin’s name “Cynthia!! open oo!!” She was as sluggish as a snail, I knew it would take her ages to get up, get the keys and open the door for me. But she surprised me today, as I got to door and raised my hands to bang on it, the door flew open and there she was standing, looking confused “what? what happen?” she asked looking over my shoulders. probably for the mad man pursuing me. “Abeg, take first” I said throwing my bag at her.
That was when I realised I still had the okada guy’s helmet with me. We both burst out laughing. “What is this?, is today take a bike and get a helmet free day?” I was laughing hard and I was very pressed, I didn’t think it was really good for mybladder. I ran into the toilet “wait o biko o, I want to pee” I shouted as I ran, throwing off my shoes with speed. Cynthia’s laughter doubled, I knew she would be rolling on the groundnow, she is a crazy laugher like that. I didn’t care. I just needed to go. In the toilet, my behind landed so loudly on the toilet seat that I had to check if it wasn’t broken, I wasn’t up for any expenses for toilet fixing biko. As the pee left me, I felt a deep relief and I took a deep breath. Wow peeing could be so sweet.
Done, I got up, washed my hands and went out to meet Cynthia arguing with my tobacco teeth stained okada guy. He didn’t find it funny that I thought to steal his helmet, and Cynthia wasn’t being a help with her tone. I just picked the helmet, handed it over to him and apologised, he was still grumbling, so I promised him that I would ride with him tomorrow, he figured that meant more tips for him so he flashed his tobacco smile again.
We didn’t hear the last of it that evening as we had dinner, everyone was fed the story by Cynthia, which she made more interesting with her added ‘pepper and onions’, Jackie andFade our flat mates and George, Fade’s hottttt boyfriend, laughed their hears out. Yeah, my miserable life was always a source of laughter for them. it’s like they rushed home everydayto lighten up their day with stories of one of my mishap or the other, Like the time I was seriously catwalking up to Leo by his car and some crazy dude drove by and splashed water all over me, I swear I tasted the shitty thing, argh, it would have been ok if Leo and I could have just laughed over it privately, but no, Fade and Cynthia were watching and it turned into a dinner joke (and Leo never called back, maybe my mouth was shitty smelling when I pecked him??). Well I laughed too, I was the nice one, polite and always smiling.
so I laughed, then my chin started to hurt from all the forced laughter, then I felt heavy in my heart, and suddenly I was wailing, not the silent sob sob no, it was the loud diariz gawdwailing. I don’t know where it came from honestly. I was just wailing, why oh why, why do I have to be the one who owes the rent money till the last mimute, why don’t I have a car or a man or money sef? I was the oldest among them, at 30 and I felt they were more accomplished. Why won’t Leo call or return mine? who sent that heediot to splash water on me sef? When will I marry oo? The room went quiet and Cynthia was by my side telling me how things weren’t that bad, everyone echoed the same thing, I sniffed and smiled my thanks.
The mixed look and reaction from them was priceless though, they didn’t know whether to laugh or cry and I had myself a good laugh at that later.