“Ki lo n so?” He asked angry but confused. I tried another line I knew.
“Omo mi, you no know me oh” I shouted, “Olopa awa ku awon mejeji”. The whole place broke with everyone laughing, some leaning against each other trying to gain balance. I knew I should have stuck to English. You guessed right.
E don be I thought.
….. ….. …..
I’m sure by now you have some facts about me. I obviously don’t like what I hate, I tend to be quite dramatic when it looks like danger is coming my way. People never see it because of all the fat on my body but if you can see past the physical, trust me you will pay just to watch. Another thing is if it is a choice between my life and adventure, my body will always lean towards life because I am one of those sensible people who believe in self-preservation but this my spirit and adventure … let us just say God is sha in control. Also, Lagos has been quite eventful for me, I had met some cool people both in working environment and on a personal level. I had started picking ‘favorite’ places and activities. I was almost done with my probation period at work when today’s story happened.
“Guy, how far?” my colleague and friend T.J said over the phone.
“Egbon, I dey. Any better?” I replied relaxing on the 3-seater at my cousin’s. I had just had a very long day. I had got back from site tired and still had to wash and then go and mark present at my girlfriend’s before I became girl-friendless. I had just got home.
“I want you to resume at Kuramo tomorrow” he said. I was confused. First of all, that wasn’t my site, secondly tomorrow was Sunday. Thirdly, did you see where I said tomorrow was Sunday.
“Baba why you dey whine me?” I asked jokingly. That was the only logical conclusion I could draw.
“Whine ke? You and A.B will resume there by 7.00 am tomorrow. Wait oga is calling me, I’ll call you back” T.J said and ended the call. I sat up, looking at my phone in disbelief.
“Aburo, what is wrong?” my cousin said from where she sat watching TV.
“Big sis e be like film. I’m coming let me confirm something please” I said as I quickly scrolled through my contact list and dialed. He picked on the second ring.
“Baba, how far? T.J call you?” he asked immediately. I started laughing. “Wait, this is a joke right” A.B asked me again.
“Guy, why do you think I am calling you? I thought he was joking. Come where Kuramo dey sef? “I asked.
“Guy I no know, somewhere near Eko hotel on the Island” A.B explained. Unlike me, he had been in Lagos for a much longer period and thus had more knowledge of the state.
“Guy, tomorrow na Sunday, I wan go church” A.B complained.
“Guy I wan sleep tomorrow” I wailed. We both laughed in frustration. We both didn’t know how to react because this was the first time ever it had happened.
“Toh, na to see how e go be” A.B said. We chatted briefly and I ended the call.
“Hmmmmm” I said and sighed. A text had come in while I was on the call with A.B, it was from T.J describing the site and how to get there.
“Safety boots again? My safety boots are on my site now” I thought in dismay. Which kind of stress was this?
“Muyiwa, you are not going anywhere tomorrow oh” I looked up from the depth of thoughts I was soaked in to remember where I was.
“Sis, hmmm this is from my boss oh” I tried to explain.
“Ehen, and so? Why will they be making you work on Sundays now?” my cousin asked. She had one of those her looks that said we will argue this to the last. My younger sister joined her.
“Uncle Muyiwa what of church? Won’t you rest? This is unfair oh” she said. Lord which English will I speak now. I tried and tried to explain. I was new to the job, I didn’t want to formulate excuse and for T.J to call me instead of my boss, there must have been a reason and from my relationship with T.J most of his reasons have been in my favor.
“If you insist, then you must go for morning mass before you leave for work. Se bi (it is true that) your boss is a Christian, eh, he will understand” she said.
“Sis, I am not the only Christian now. Others too will be missing church” I didn’t want to do anything that will bring problems my way.
“Hmmm, Muyiwa, hmmmm, well if you insist. It is your job at the end of the day” my cousin said and went into the kitchen. I was not happy about the situation but glad I had sorted out my cousin’s worry.
….. ….. …..
I pulled myself out of unconsciousness as I heard my phone ring. It was dark, the power was out. My curtain just above my head had been tied to allow breeze from outside get into the room. Outside was dark, I checked my wristwatch; 5.15 am. Who could be calling? I thought.
“M.Y. you don reach?” I could hear T.J’s voice at the other end of the call.
“Baba, good morning, I just wan go bath” I replied getting up, so it really wasn’t a joke.
“Yeye, you just dey wake” T.J said. “Get to the site before 7.00 am, I want Oga to meet you guys there”.
“My boot dey Ikoyi” I said.
“Eh, it is on the way. Just don’t waste time” he said.
I was tired. I got up and went into the bathroom with my toothbrush. The one good thing about bathing in Lagos was there was no need to boil your water. Cool water was very welcoming because of the heat. Even during the rainy season, same application. By 5.45 am I was ready and on my way out. My cousin and little sister were preparing for morning mass. Lucky them I said under my breath. I walked to the main junction of my street, took a bus from Obanikoro direct to Obalende from there. I got a cab going to Ikoyi. It was my first time going into the island so early on a Sunday. The roads were free and by 6.30 am I was standing in front of my site. I felt late, was it that Lagos behavior getting to me or was it because I didn’t want my boss to get to site before me.
“Engineer, wetin carry you come site today?” the site guard at the gate looked surprised.
“James good morning. Oga Sadiuq dey? I wan pick up my safety boot from office” I asked after the storekeeper.
“Yes, him dey container” he replied pointing to a group of containers at the back of the site where the laborers had converted to living quarters to sleep in. It was a general habit for them as most of them lived far away and only preferred to go home at the end of every other week or months end to reduce spending. I walked swiftly and knocked on the door of the container meant for the storekeeper.
“SADIQU!!!” I called out.
“Who be that?” a voice called from inside.
“Na Engineer Muyiwa. No vex abeg I need key to office” I said. I could hear ruffling and movement. Soon enough the door opened widely, and he emerged, keys in hand.
“Engineer hope all is well?” he asked concerned. I smiled reassuringly.
“Ba damu wa (No problem)” I replied in Hausa, “I just need am for another site. I will give the key to James to bring for you, sai gobe (Till tomorrow)”.
“Toh, sai gobe oga (Okay, till tomorrow boss)” he replied. As soon as I got the boots I changed, put my plain shoes in my backpack and then left. Stepped out, I saw a bike passing and hailed it down. It was 6.45 am by then. Goal was to reach there on or before 7.00 am.
“Kuramo” I said bringing out my phone.
“Where?” the bike man didn’t seem to know where I was speaking of.
“Errm, Eko Atlantic office” I repeated the message sent to me from T.J.
“Okay, I know that side. That is Victoria Island side, near Eko hotel” he described. I just nodded. It sounded like what T.J had said and even if it was not, I would call. He gave a fair price and I boarded. It was a smooth ride. I got to the building and it was a twin tower. Tall, beautiful and elegant. I met A.B at the entrance.
“Guy how far? Where T.J” I asked as we greeted.
“Him say him dey Bony Camp. Should be here in the next 10 minutes” A.B replied.
“Omo, na the place be this? Make sense, building is beautiful” I said admiring the structure. We sat near the guard entrance as nobody was allowed in without a pass.
“Security tight no be small” A.B said. “Some of our guys dey inside sha”.
“Oh really?” I asked. My tummy growled.” Guy you don chop?” I asked. A.B opened his bag and brought out a loaf of bread and a bottle of water.
“If you go join me, we fit chop bread before work start” he said.
“So, you feel say as we come na to come work?” I asked.
“No, we come watch film” he said sarcastically and we both laughed. We munched the bread in silence. It was nice really nice as it had little chunks of sardine that had been baked with it.
“See as una sit down like homeless people” we turned to see T.J had arrived. We laughed and greeted him.
“Baba no allow me choke abeg” I said in between laughter. “Guy, how far? You still haven’t told us why we are here on a Sunday?”. T.J laughed as he took a piece of A. B’s bread before explaining. Our boss had been called the day before and had been informed that the building needed to be submitted to the client the next week and they needed us to finalize all tests, finishing work and such before Monday and clear out of the building. The plus side was we were going to be paid overtime and we just needed to do keep the technicians on their toes and efficiently working while solving any problem that arises.
Guess what? I spent the whole day there. I worked from 8.00 am till 9.30 pm that day. As long and as exhausting as it was (exhausting because at some point we had to join the technicians to work due to the amount of work left), it would be one of the most fun experiences I have had thus far at my job. I met more of the staff who had been posted to different sites, our boss had come twice to check the progress of work and encouraged us to take breaks and even gave us money for lunch and dinner. 9.30 pm and about 8 more floors to go on each tower T.J called me aside.
“Guy, do you want to pull an all-nighter? More overtime for you but I told Oga we should let you go home” he explained.
“What of A.B?” I asked “Will we resume on our sites tomorrow?”
“Well because of the pressure on your site, whether you stay or not you have to resume tomorrow” he explained, “That is why I got Oga to let you go home”.
“Egbon, if that is the case, let me go home. It will be better I resume fresh and clean” I said.
“Okay, no wahala. Nice work, Oga was very pleased with you guys” he said. “That was one of the reasons I asked you to come. The more you show you are willing to work, the more your boss will like you”. I nodded in understanding.
“So na uber you go book? It is late oh” T.J said.
Brothers and sisters se bi I should have just said yes abi? Mba, hard guy time.
“I can get vehicle going to Obalende from here abi?” I asked, he nodded. “Eh, let me just take that way and experience Lagos night life”.
“Are you sure? Okay then” he said. Then he added “Call me if you need anything”. One of the technicians working on my site was going to buy food for the others and we walked together. He hailed a bus for me.
“Engine, engine. Good night sir” he greeted.
“Good night and good job today” I replied. I jumped in. Now as I had finished work, I had changed into my normal shoes to be more comfortable. But my safety boots were to big and dirty so instead of putting them with my work clothes in my backpack, I put them in a nylon bag and kept them between my legs. As it was late, I expected the road to be practically empty and so was supposed as we approached Obalende to see it was still bubbling with life.
Notice how in all this your boy wasn’t scared? Na we dey run Lagos now, no worry. lol
“BOLE OOOH (COME DOWN OOOH)” the conductor shouted as we reached the designated bus stop. I was closest to the door. I got down, picked my boots and headed to the buses going to Oshodi. I had planned to stop at Barracks junction and just cross over and enter Ilupeju. As lucky would have it, a bus was already loading. I sat at the edge because I knew I would be dropping early.
“Alaye shift make this man sit down” the conductor of the bus said carelessly.
“I go drop early na why I sit for here” I tried to explain.
“Ki lo n se bobo yi (what is wrong with this guy), I dey tell you something you dey tell me another thing” the conductor said rudely. I was tired, all I wanted to do was go home and sleep. I bent to move my boots with me inside, but I couldn’t feel them. I decided to come down to look under the seat as I couldn’t bend comfortably.
“Werey lo n se bobo oh, ma fo ori e oh (madness is disturbing this guy. I will slap your head oh)” he said aggressively.
“Bros, where my boot?”I asked him.
“You give me boot make I keep for you, abi bomb dey your head” the conductor replied me. I was getting angry, I stood facing him in front of the entrance to the bus.
“I kept my boot under this seat, you kept disturbing me since. Now my boot is missing” I said. People in the bus and outside started gathering.
“O so oyinbo, o fe confuse mi, ko work (You are speaking English, you want to confuse me, it will not work)”he said and wanted to walk away. I pulled his shirt and that was when I knew I had messed up. In a second, he turned and pushed me.
“Alaye maa ka e (guy I will kill you)”
“Se wo ya werey (Are you mad)?” I asked
“Ki lo n so (What did you say)?” He asked angry but confused. I tried another line I knew.
“Omo mi, you no know me oh” I shouted, “Olokpa awa ku awon mejeji”. The whole place broke with everyone laughing, some leaning against each other trying to gain balance. I knew I should have stuck to English. The conductor joined in; all trace of anger gone.
“Abeg make we dey go, night don do” someone in the back shouted. I looked frustrated.
“Bros, no be conductor carry your shoe. If your shoe no dey inside bus, the real owners don carry am” another guy answered me. I was silently pondering how my boots were stolen through the whole trip amidst some people repeated my lines and others laughing. By the time I got home it was 10.38 pm. My cousin had waited for me even though I had my key; God bless her heart. I greeted her and went to bed.
….. ….. …..
“Wait you said what?” T.J and the other engineers asked laughing hard. T.J had stopped by my site to see how I was doing after the previous day’s stress and I was recanting the events.
“A ah, I told him Omo mi, as in ‘you don’t know me’ right” I tried to explain, and they started laughing.
“And the second line what was it again?” T.J encouraged. I had already started giggling because I knew where he was going to.
“Olopa awa ku awon mejeji, as in ‘police will come and arrest both of us’ why are you laughing?” I tried to explain my meaning, but they all busted into another fit of laughter.
“It is o mo mi (you don’t know me) not omo mi (my child)” T.J tried to explain; tears filled his eye.
“And police cannot come and carry two of you if you have already killed the police in your sentence” he said and we all busted into laughter again.
“Guy you don suffer enough, I will place a request for new boot for you jare”he said as we continued to laugh.
….. ….. …..
I promise my Yoruba has improved since then. LOL. Thanks for reading. Please don’t forget to share with friends.