2010 | MY WAY TO LAGOS


: #Photo: Accidental shot from Cele-Ijesha pedestrian bridge, Lagos.

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I remember the first time I went to Lagos 8 years ago or thereabouts. It was an ecstatic journey from Asaba to Agric-Ojo, Lagos. I had never travelled such distance before, in fact it was my first official travel outside Anambra State.
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I remember I was heading to Lagos hoping to continue my education at UNILAG and even get a part time work there to support myself! I was full of hopes, I had faith, I confessed positive and I didn’t procrastinate. The qualities we always encourage people to take for them to succeed was not lacking! Risk? I took risk too! Well, it didn’t work! That’s not the story anyway.
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I was very much younger and tender then but I saved up enough money for my travel… I really saved enough! Never knew I would save well. Thanks to a daily contribution firm that came everyday for collections! My Dad was shocked seeing me pick up my bag to announce I was going to Lagos! He couldn’t believe it, I even lied I was going with other people because he wouldn’t have let me get to Lagos at that age all by myself. My Dad is a strong soft man! You wouldn’t know he has a soft heart until something calls for it! My Dad’s voice is originally harsh but his heart is originally soft! He would always feel insecure leaving us to survive all by ourselves because he didn’t want anything to happen to us and never wanted us to struggle all by ourself even though situations didn’t give him a way to do all the stuffs he had wanted to do for us including making sure we have a foreign academic experience. Being this way, he wasn’t happy to see me go like that but my mind was made up and no one would stop me then. As at then, I never realized my Dad wasn’t as strong hearted as we assume!
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That isn’t the story anyway… I would share it some other time but then I had a very good moment throughout the trip. I remember I arrived GIGM, Asaba terminal before 9am and the crowd wasn’t like what we see presently. I was directed to the Queue but before I could fix myself to the line a young beautiful lady approached me! She was smiling all through and talking with softness that softened me. She was obviously trained to do that.
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“Sir, would you love to board first class bus?” She said to me. I was amazed, she called me “sir” really? Little me felt bigger and coming from that lady I couldn’t hide the grin on my face. She knew she got me, she would get anybody! She continued “we have a passenger who wants to return her ticket! She cancelled her trip. It would be nice you buy it!”
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“Okay. I’d love to board first class” I responded. She took my luggage from me and led me to the registration desk where necessary informations were collected and the ticket handed over to me. It was all new to me as a very young inexperienced boy! I felt big! She still carried my luggage as we went to the bus! If such could happen now, I will just wave it off with “she’s just doing her job!”
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“Safe journey to Lagos” she smiled and waved and I waved back at her as another staff took over the care. I still remember the seat number I was given, number 11. The bus was a luxury! The drivers were not “drivers” but “captains” and they walked with smug as though it is airplane they are about to pilot. I am describing it with my young eyes then, I don’t know what it would look like now but I had never been in such bus before then. It had very good interior and stand alone seats and other passengers looked rich and gentle.
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I still remember a man who came to preach and pray. He demanded offering and I was quick to dish out a hundred Naira note. We started the journey and the entire passenger remained so quiet! To spark something up, someone started talking about Asaba airport and how the government had embezzled money through that project. They were speaking good English and I didn’t want to intimidate myself, I kept calm and just listened. It was my first time traveling so I thought the bus would be full of Yorubas. A lady sitting near me then brought up the issue of the governor of Anambra State then, Mr Peter Obi, they talked about some roads including Old Awka Road where I lived and then I was the only one in a better position to explain what was going on at that road… That was how I got talking!
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Then we digressed, we laughed, cracked jokes and much more! The entire passengers except two Yorubas who felt left out when Igbo language became the official language for that trip were like family. I remember someone noticed we would tune the sound of the car-TV into our phones and listen to the movie playing on TV directly on our phones! We made new discoveries and no one thought about class! We were all in a first class bus after all. At the Ore-stop-bye some even bought edibles and shared it mutually among all! Till date I had never been in the midst of such strangers again.
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The journey was not as quick as I thought. Before we got to Benin I had started asking “are we almost there?” I wasn’t alone! Another younger lady who was also traveling for the first time had started crying that her buttocks was on fire and she is tired of sitting down. As we stopped at Ore and it was a relief. We rested for few minutes before getting back into the bus.
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I felt sleepy and I didn’t know when it swept me off the physical realm into dream realms. I also didn’t know I was resting on the shoulder of a young lady who was my neighbor and the funny thing was she accommodated me and even had to make sure my head was relaxed. When I woke up, I was surprised she’d allow me sleep on her shoulder for a long time. I still remember what she looked like but then I was inexperienced to know the secret of so many good looks! Makeup!
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We were all strangers but the few minutes we spent in the bus we were already getting along so well. You wouldn’t believe I missed them for few hours after the journey before getting my mind filled up with other activities.
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We got to Lagos, I remember I saw the inscription “This is Lagos. Shine your eyes.” That was the welcome message from the state to us. I expressed my fears anyway because it was a scary welcome. I thought my neighbors were going to calm me down and say “don’t mind them. Lagos is a peaceful place.” But they shocked me the more “Lagos?” They said “you must shine your eyes or you lost into the thin air! Lagos is a no man land.” I understood later, I have shared the story before. Presently, things have changed and “Welcome to Lagos” looks more attractive and welcoming!
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When we had finally reached Lagos I wished we were all going to the same direction! I remember some shared contacts and my phone was almost dead, I still had lot of calls to make before getting to where I was supposed to Lodge. The lady I had slept on her shoulder said to me before getting down the bus “please do take care of yourself… Don’t get lost.” I smiled and responded “I will.” I watched her go down and wondered what it would have been like if she slapped me off her shoulder… Some will do that!
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I wished everyone in Lagos were like the people I travelled with! When I stepped out of the bus, I watched my feet stamp on the soil of Lagos. I looked up to the sky, the color hasn’t changed, it was still blue! I inhaled deep and the air was still the same, the people I saw were still dark skinned and I watched the bus speed off out of sight! Nothing changed really… At least only a few!
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I couldn’t find my way, the road network wasn’t simple and I needed to ask someone if he knew “Agric”… That was the beginning of another story and it was Lagos indeed.
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#GracefulGeorge

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