For a lady dressed that elegant and with a tinge of finesse (if I might add), surprise may not do justice to what I felt as she opened her mouth to speak. The words that came out were in such a contrast with her charisma. Uncouth does not even begin to define her manner and tone of speech as a passer by quietly stopped and asked where the bus she was sitting in was headed.
For the purpose of this story, we shall name the gorgeously dressed woman ‘Georgia’ (pun intended) and the passer by ‘Paula’. Now that we have this sorted, let’s get back to the drama about to unfold.
It was quite obvious that Paula felt Georgia was the closest person to have asked as she was seated in the front of the vehicle, what wasn’t quite obvious to Paula was if she had offended the woman with such a ‘simple’ question. Well, I suppose Georgia’s response to the question “ E be like say that your eye wey be like say e dey bend, don totally blind finish sef. I resemble conductor for your eye or devil just send you waka con” answered her question a 100 percent in a split second. Unfortunately, as much as the reply answered Paula’s question, it didn’t have quite the effect I had played out in my head as amazingly, she looked calm and expressionless. This seemed to catch the attention of Georgia as she looked a bit surprised but could not care less as she rolled her fully rounded eyes to all the cardinal points and returned them to the original position of somewhat aloofness. This action seemed to be a wakeup call to Paula as she grudgingly moved her feet some inches away to ask someone else in the bus who responded politely.
The destination of the bus happened to be where she was headed and I could almost see (or was it my imagination? I can’t quite say) the tiniest of grins tugged across the corners of her mouth as she retraced her steps and there she was again in the face of an obviously irritated Georgia. This time, the look of calm surprise had switched places as it found its way to Georgia’s face that could not even hide about the disgust she felt. Well, I’m sure nothing at that point in time prepared her for Paula’s next line of action as she calmly but firmly opened the door of the bus with an almost sarcastic grin and with a calm voice said ‘move’ and like a truant child caught red handed, Georgia moved solemnly.
As we the remaining commuters observed with all keenness and concentration the events that had transpired between the two women, this last scene definitely took a much different turn than we had expected. After all, there were more seats at the back of the bus (I’m sure we all thought this quietly).
After what seemed like eternity and beyond had passed, the bus was finally filled up and ready to move. The rugged and scroungy looking driver showed up from nowhere and started the engine. As the engine roared, the two drama queens exchanged venomous looks (almost like they planned it) and the tension at the front seat became even more pent up, it was almost tangible.
At that moment, it was almost like a memo had gone round for everyone to sit tight because at that time, all sorts of funny adjustments and body movements were being made to enable better viewing and hearing. An elderly man beside me almost knocked off my frames with his irritatingly vicious attempts at ‘amebo repositioning’. Suddenly everywhere became so still that I’m sure we could have even heard the thoughts of our neighbors if we had tried.
It was then time for the collection of fares, the driver had no ‘conductor’ and so pleaded with his ‘passengers’ to help him out. There seemed to be a considerable amount of peace until the driver (who I’m sure had no inkling as to the already existing tension / drama that had gone down between the two women) became a tool for even more drama and entertainment as he started lamenting that he had no smaller denomination for ‘change’ for the two of them at the front. “una two go share the money o! I no know as una go bring dis kain big money dis early mor mor con enta moto . Anyway una go share the change among una two”, with that closing remark, he gave Georgia the N500 who was seated closer to him.
At this point, I thought Georgia decided to play it cool this time, seeing as it took her a while before she rained her banter of curses on the driver. It definitely came as shock to the driver who shuffling between concentrating on the road and looking at this ‘sharp mouthed’ commuter was jaw down wearing a lost look. The driver probably weighing the odds decided he better concentrate on his driving and gave her a tart reply “e be like say dem don dey chase you from your village kon, I don give you change so anyone you dey talk dia consaign you! Aje oshi!” and with that he faced the road again.
In between the banters of Georgia and the driver, I decided to look at Paula for a second and almost burst into laughter as the look of joy (almost turning to laughter) on her face was priceless. This caused me to house so many thoughts “was Paula a personally assigned witch to frustrate Georgia?” “Had they met before, had an encounter and probably Georgia does not remember?”, all these and much more kept dancing through my mind because in my opinion, Georgia’s reactions to the subtle violence did not just add up and are not exactly ‘rational’ especially for a Nigerian commuter.
As the bus reached its destination, I knew the time had come for this little episode to end and the worst was about to happen in the course of sharing that money. Going almost unnoticed, Paula gently reached for the cell phone in her hand bag but wearing a different grin this time. This grin said “the time has finally come, I have endured all your crap but now is the time for you to eat my crap”. As she placed the receiver’s end to her ears uttering soft but precise words, I knew it might not end as we all thought it would with the usual exchange of female venom.
The bus finally stopped and as everyone alighted, the sounds I heard were unmistakable as the vans approached…
….To be continued.