The yellow-lace clad young men in the backseat of the taxi suddenly exclaimed as another person approached carrying a small plastic bag filled with blue and red wine bottles.
‘Wine lo wa ni nu trailer yen!’ said the first
‘Aah! Ooto ni’ rejoined the second
‘Je ka pada lo sibe!’ said the one with the “jan-ba-la-la” phone ring tone
This was when the disgruntled driver threatened that if they left the taxi one more time, he would not wait to pick them up especially as vehicles had finally started moving. ‘What are you going to do with wine now anyway?’
A totally useless question I thought to myself. How difficult can it possibly be to think up uses for sparkling wine after a five hour drive originally meant to take an hour and a half? I sat through their grumbling, the venomous words forming in the pit of my stomach calcifying on my unslaked tongued. This soul sistah was too tired to speak; thirsty, yet too pressed for a leak to dare buy water (or steal some wine) and douse the near parched yearning.
Eventually driving past the cause of our delay, I could not help but wonder(and be grateful) at the intensity of the accident if two tankers still raged furiously in a fire that started the night before - almost twenty hours before we got there. Yet people were looting the other upturned trailers of their unfortunate goods- wine, earthenware plates and more. To say I felt sorry for my fellow country men does not begin to milk this cow. Young men dared their safety; their lives, just to get as many bottles of wine as they could shove into armpits, hands and arms.
I wanted to take pictures but felt too saddened and disgusted to even bring out my phone. I was late for my performance, in fact the reading was about to end if, as my hostess informed me, they actually started at 4pm.
My taxi finally broke down just before Ibadan, a miracle actually. We had driven in near darkness after we left Sagamu at 6.30pm. Unable to turn on the headlamps lest the battery choke on us, we rode quietly, my heart jumped cowadly in my mouth each time we slid dangerously past a lorry, trailer or other monstrous vehicle.
The taxi may have erupted its final pox right after Guru Maharaji, but my celestial guardians were on full alert as my phone buzzed and the taxi slowed to a battery dead halt. It was a fellow wordsmith who wanted to find out how the readings went; he was still on the way to Ibadan. I nearly screamed. ‘I am still on my way too! My taxi just broke down after that Maharaji place!’ Interestingly, they had also just driven past the Maharaji spot three minutes ago. ‘We passed there like five minutes ago! It’s a red taxi’ I yelped
That perfect moment when faith meets an outstretched hand and fear falls to the background, was me saying ‘red taxi’ and him saying ‘oh, I think I can see u guys! Driver, please clear. Please’.
As I said bye-bye to the guys and ran down the expressway to where my friend’s taxi was parked, I tasted heaven in unmeasured steps.
My performance dreams may have shattered like earthenware on concrete walls but my spirit remained undoused as I squeezed into the Toyota Camry front seat with a babe in the full stink of day old sweat. Life is Sweet!