It was a sharp contrast comparing the usual quietness of the estate with the noisy chaos of the bus stops, it didn’t matter much that the time was just a few minutes after five o’clock in the morning, though businesses were yet to open for the day, commercial buses and their activities however was in full swing. Someone was walking out of the estate, a young corporately dressed man, he was on the phone, apparently late for work judging from his fast pace, he was trying to negotiate with his friend and colleague at work to come pick him up haven missed the staff bus that morning but Dare was long gone…
Kelvin thought about his car still at the mechanic’s repair shop badly in need of attention and a new engine, the subject dampened his mood as he approached the bus terminal which was very busy with business activities from hawkers and men in uniform just standing around doing nothing in particular, he crossed the road narrowly avoiding being knocked down by a rough looking fellow in dirty singlets, shots and slippers, he was being chased by two men in uniform from the other side of the road “I say bring your car key” the taller of the two officers yelled while the other one threw his stick at the fleeing commercial bus driver.
He took a left turn and noticed that there was a small crowd gathered very close to a locked shop, several women had their hands on their heads in a typical expression of despair while the men looked visibly worried, his curiosity almost chocked him as he approached them trying desperately to catch a glimpse of the source of the spectacle. “Are they coming?” an elderly man around his late fifties was on the phone speaking with someone, he stood there along side others who kept talking about the thing in the brown carton which appeared to be the main source of the commotion, they were all dressed in simple local fabric, at least most of them.
It was at that moment he saw the expression on the faces of the women standing around also staring at the carton, some where crying while others just stood their raining curses on the perpetrator. “You mean they are not coming?” The man on the phone said, he was clearly worried as he scratched the side of his short beard, he was holding a bunch of keys and what looked like a note book.
Kelvin decided to ask what had happened from a young man swinging what looked like a car key from one of the fingers of his left hand, perhaps one of the commercial bus drivers from the nearby park, he was standing close to a weeping lady holding a metal tray and a blue plastic bag, another lady in red just stood there shaking her head and on the phone, the man began to explain.
Apparently someone had snuck out to that spot very early in the morning to drop the carton in front of the locked shop. It was at that precise moment while the man was explaining the tender sound split the air and silenced everyone, people who had just joined the crowd to stare moved forward to catch a glimpse of the miracle that made the sound from inside the box.
It was yet another ugly act of man carried out under the cover of darkness. Kelvin gathered from the man that the elderly man speaking on the phone was the chairman of the park and he was talking to someone amongst the people he sent to report the case to the police, no one was willing to carry the carton to the police station or anywhere else that help could come from for that matter, this was because they all feared that any one that does that might end up in trouble with the authorities.
Kelvin checked his wristwatch, the time was almost six o’clock! He was running late, he made to leave and at that instant he caught a glimpse of the baby in the carton now that daylight had started creeping up to the surface, something in his heart wrenched, he felt sad, angry and pity all at the same time, what did the poor child do to deserve abandonment, he wondered what kind of person could have done something like that and would God ever forgive such a person?
Slowly walking backwards now, he had forgotten about his car still at the mechanic’s repair shop for the moment, the baby was wrapped in what looked like a white wrapper, it was crying and the sound tore through Kelvin’s resolve, he then turned around and walked away because he was running late for work, at least the people there seemed concerned enough so help will surely come, he thought to himself.
He arrived at the bus terminal which was yet to commence operations, tickets were not being sold but people who probably had tickets were there waiting. Kelvin took a deep breath in frustration, he thought to himself “why did I wake up late? Now I am going to be late for work” he looked at the long queue already present at the terminal and shook his head, there was no way he was going to wait around till the terminal commences operations, so he left the place and headed straight for the nearby motor park, luckily for him a large white bus was driving by and the conductor was yelling Oshodi-Isale, he immediately diverted and joined the bus instead.
He was glad there were still empty seats available in the bus so he took a window seat just opposite the rare entrance. He said a silent prayer under his breath, “God don’t let me get to work late, I must not miss my presentation this morning.” Several people had gotten into the bus after him, two people now sat next to him, a lady and another guys also putting on a suit and a blue tie, he was carrying a black laptop styled bag just like the one Kevin carried while the lady had a small red purse and a large brown envelope, they all exchanged brief pleasantries as the bus increased its speed.
After a short while and three stops, one at Coker another at Ijesha and the last one at Cele the empty seats in the bus gradually disappeared and people were now standing, Kelvin felt uncomfortable as he was not used to public transportation, it has been over nine years he took a bus last because he always drove. The thought of his faulty car came to mind again and his countenance dropped even more.
He brought out his phone and began to fiddle with it aimlessly scrolling from one picture to another remotely aware that the lady sitting next to him was staring at his business.
Suddenly a middle aged man who had been standing all along began speaking loudly in the bus, several heads were raised to see who was disturbing the peace, as if the noise from the engine coupled with the noisy exchange between the rude conductor currently collecting money from angry passengers were not enough.
Kelvin found this development very disturbing and amusing at the same time, it was early morning and people needed that time to think about set plans for the day, he thought to himself, he then looked around to see if anyone else showed signs of surprise but all the heads that were initially raised up before had gone back down already busy with other concerns. Many of the passengers were on their phones like Kelvin, many were sleeping haven left home early for their various destinations while an impressive majority had their portable ear pieces on, blocking out the noisy ambience around them.
There was an argument at the back of the bus between two passengers competing for a vacant seat left by another who alighted from the bus, the pushing and shoving was just too much, though the shorter more sturdy fellow won the seat the other taller chap protested and in no time both of them rained insults on each other like angry market women, they were left alone for some minutes to let out their steam but when it appeared that the filthy exchange would continue nonstop, other passengers intervened, some got their share of insults while others were warned to stay out of the quarrel.
Eventually the conductor came around and insulted the two passengers calling them names, this sparked up another round of showers of insults, Kelvin’s mouth was open in surprise and disgust, he wished he hadn’t taken the bus, his back hurts from the horrible seat, his knees also was aching as well as his buttocks, everyone had forgotten the man that was yelling in the bus selling enhancement drugs. Kelvin covered his ears and buried his head to keep the noise out.
Finally Oshodi at last, the quarrel was still on as he made his way to the door, he was being pushed and smooched from behind while the lady in front of him pressed into him tightly, he complained to def ears as the man in front of the woman struggled to make his way to the door pushing her backwards into Kelvin even more, the woman complained and tried to push back, someone was stepping on Kelvin’s shoes too and his jacket was caught by the sharp edges of one of this seats, he pulled it.
By the time he alighted from the bus he was looking like the sole surviver of a major stampede, his jacket was torn but thank God it was inside the left side just under his armpit not visible outside but his shoes were dusty, his jacket a little rumpled and he was sweaty too. He cleaned his shoes with his handkerchief dusted himself and began scouting for a taxi there was no way he was going to try public transportation again, he reached for his wallet and… It was gone, uh! “My wallet, my wallet” he searched himself thoroughly but it was gone, gone, gone!
He was loosing his mind, unknown to him the wallet was removed from his person while he was alighting from the bus as he was being smooched from all sides. His eyes scanned through the buses slowly driving by and dropping passengers without stopping but the one he came from was long gone and the thief would no longer be on the bus anyway. He sighed deeply calculating how he would make it to work, it was clear he was going to be late no doubt, he still had the fifty naira change he was given by the conductor. His ATM card, Eight Thousand Naira cash, ID card and other cards had all gone with his wallet.
Kelvin brought out his phone to call Dare he didn’t yet know what he was going to tell him but he was sure he would figure something out before he picked the call… No one answered so he dialed the number again but still no response “Dare pick up the call, pick up, pick up…”
Someone touched kelvin on his left shoulder, it startled him so he quickly turned around to see who it was. The young man that tapped him was dressed formally without a jacket. “Good morning I am Ken”, he said to Kelvin with a straight face, he was pointing at a white coaster bus some distance from where they stood “I was asked to call you” he said again still pointing at the white bus and reaching out to shake Kelvin with his other hand. “Hello Kelvin are you there?” the voice on the phone was saying. “Em Dare sorry I will call you back”, he ended the call as he shook the hand of the young man sent from the staff bus to call him.
They approached the staff bus together, someone must have recognised him and sent Ken one of the new intakes to call him, he was relieved at least he was going to get to work in good time but the loss of his wallet pained him, he thought about his car again, the bus experience which was horrible for him, he blamed himself again then he thought about the abandoned baby back at the motor park, he had felt abandoned just now before the bus came to his rescue, “God let them find a good home for the baby” he said beneath his breath and was a little surprised that he was more worried about the baby than himself.
He was in the bus now exchanging pleasantries with his colleagues, Onoja the head of procurement had been the one that saw him and drew attention, he was glad to help too. Kelvin got to the back seat where he made himself comfortable, he closed his eyes… There was a little traffic at Anthony but beyond that it was clear, he was exhausted and struggled to keep his eyes open, he didn’t think he would succeed in doing that, what an experience he thought, his phone was vibrating now but he was not aware, he could not possibly know it because he was already defeated by exhaustion.
To be continued…
About The FirstSonar:
Sunday Imonah, also known as First/Lord Sonar because of his good music ears and vocal prowess, is an enigmatic Presenter on Drive Time belt, the Weekend run as well as other belts on Metro FM, He is a voice Actor and writer at heart. He has produced, written, and directed creative works for the Station and beyond. He has voiced Commercials for Companies like Afrab Chem, Cornoil, numerous pharmaceutical and beverage companies as well as religious houses to mention but a few. Sunday is a social critic who uses his writings to proffer solutions for social good. He was recently nominated in the Nigerian Broadcasters Merit Awards [NBMAwards] for Outstanding Radio Programme Presenter, Midday/Lunch Hour Category.
GENERAL SUMMARY OF SONAR’S BELTS
Afternoon and evening during week days 2:00PM – 7:00PM
Afternoon and night on weekend 1:00PM – 2:00PM and 7:00PM – 1:00AM