For the first time in a long long while, thanks to free rides in The Fiance’s car, the okadas (which for the information of my non Nigerian friends are commercial motorcycles) and marwas (rickshaws or commercial tricycles), I entered a public bus today. While it did not look like this picture, it was certainly not paradise.
Everyone was packed tighter than sardines in a tin.
The two burly filthy mechanic types I was squashed between kept talking across me at each other. I wondered why they hadn’t sat side by side! The lady in the row before mine had a baby, not those cute types that tempt u to kidnap them, but a burpy crying kid that kept dropping his saliva soaked biscuits across his mother’s back into my lap.
The conductor, instead of occupying a space like a normal person was content to just hang by the side of the bus and lean over my row screaming for everyone to pay their fares and reminding us in his weed smoking hoarsely-deepened voice that he had no change so we better give him exact fares, or he would ‘marry’ us to each other at the end of the journey to sort out the change issue in pairs. I gladly reached behind me into the seat pocket of my jeans and gave him his money. I just needed hinges not stretching his unwashed body over me, stinking up my oxygen!
To make matters worse, the sweltering heat of the day plus the oppressive humidity was making everyone sweat. I watched a drop of sweat roll off the conductor’s hanging forehead and land on the head of the mechanic beside me. I shivered in disgust. Nausea welled up deep within me and I had to choke on a gag.
I looked around me at my fellow passengers. No one looked as uncomfortable as I felt. It was all just business as usual. The baby kept burping, the mechanics kept talking and the driver was singing loudly to the music blaring out the speakers. Everyone’s sweat was seeping through their clothes to the skin of the person beside them. I tried to avoid this by leaning forward in my tiny space, I knew I’d definitely need a bath when I got home. Nobody beside me felt this way obviously, else they’d all be jumping out the windows instead of calmly acting all hakuna matata and singing along with the song on the radio.
They were just peachy and I was in misery! At least there was so traffic. Thank God for small mercies.
I was so grossed out and maybe it was all the pregnancy hormones in my body making me unusually sensitive to the bus environment, or simply because it had been a while I’d last been in a bus, but I wondered why I wasn’t normally this grossed out by public transport.
I don’t know why my country people and Africans generally have no concept of personal space. They stand so close when talking to you that u can see the droplets of spit fly out of the mouths before landing on your face or on your clothes! They rub against you while standing in queues and let the sweat on their bodies soak into your clothes! They consider it normal to visit your home without prior calls or invites, and walk to your fridge like they put the drinks there!
We have many endearing qualities in this part of the world, but this ignorance of space just kills me. I think it’s my greatest pet peeve.
It’s sure going to be another long while before I get in another bus!