I hate the city of Lagos. Lagos hates me too. We’re happy in our mutual feeling for each other.
So let me tell you about one of my experiences in Lagos, a.k.a Ekó, a.k.a Lasgidi, that metropolitan hubbub of contrasts; angels and demons, good and evil in grossly disproportionate equations.
Lagos, where armed robbers divest citizens of their property whilst they’re caught up in traffic, right under the watchful gaze of the Nigerian Police.
Where public fights are as common as rainfall in the tropics and occasionally, its inhabitants display an unbelievable and heart-rending act of humanity.
On my first visit to Lagos, I was pushed off a moving bus. But that’s a story for another day.
On my second visit, I landed in a police station. But that’s a story for another day.
Today’s story is about Mr Apple Seller at Alakija.
I live in wall street.
A beautiful street,
purposely built for the “bourgeoisie”.
I had named it wall street-
I know it has a name but I never really bothered- because of the high walls
demarcating it’s inhabitant from the world.
I once asked my mum if the architects were from Jericho,
that only explained why the walls were so high.
Each time I walk or drive down the street.
I hear faceless voices behind the walls-
tiny whispers, others loud-
some in form of tears and others shout-
I think I also hear some like children.
But then again I can’t be sure…
I can’t see past the wall.
The other day my neighbour died,
I didn’t feel bad or pity.
I didn’t know -him or her-
I only knew the wall.
I’ve saved my grief for the day a wall will collapse.
That was the only “person” I truly knew on wall street.
“Rain rain battering down falling on the mountains falling on the hills it is good for us so my daddy says but I cannot play out on a rainy day”
It’s 8:00am, the weather brings with it hope of sunlight. How I’ve missed its warmth. September has been an unending chain of rainfall. I stood at the balcony of our house on the mainland in Lagos, a decent block of flats with ours being the fourth of 6 flats. I love the view, particularly because it gives me the opportunity of observing people living their “lagos dream”. There’s ample time thanks to the economic recession.
Before I could get enough of the vitamin D, the sun had given way to dark clouds, followed by the forces of lightning and thunder. Without prior warning it began to pour…what insolence!!!. My neighbour struggled with packing the clothes she had washed 3 days before, from the line. I saw the frustration that came with the realisation that today was not the day the clothes will dry.
I observed how colourful the road suddenly became with different colours and sizes of umbrellas- from really tiny ones- to some that looked like a hut. The gutter had begun to overflow and in no time the road was flooded.
Though the weather was cool, the tempers were hot. Curses of all kinds saturated the whole place- Oloshi, Were, Olowo jatijati– with the greatest victims being unsuspecting drivers who splashed water- (due to no fault of theirs but bad roads and drainages). Amina, the airtime seller had to pack up her umbrella stand and probably made no profit again today.
“Buy your shower cap 50 naira, rain coat 500, umbrella 1000″…, the “rain demons” were already in full action advertising their merchandise- who would blame them… one man’s meat is another man’s ponmo (or no meat at all)… lol. The most hilarious character on the road was the guy who kept selling cold drinks against all odds.
The rain kept hitting harder and I was having a good show till I felt drops of water from my roof.
“Rain Rain go away come again another day…”
Probably the song on every lip except of course; the rain demons. We all love the rain but we still need the sun.
P.s Oloshi– useless person Were-mad fellow Olowo jatijati – useless rich man