Eight o clock and I still haven’t made one kobo today. Perhaps I should have just settled for that 1k to Festac. Oh Lord, please let something come up, I can’t possibly survive one more week without buying Dr. Okeke’s textbook. I’m sure he wont even let me into his class. Maybe I can come up with a good excuse – ha, I must have used them all. Mama’s health can’t possibly get worse than it already is. Maybe I’ll just tell him she had a heart attack, a near-death one that also lead to a stroke and …
Heysssssss – TAXI! TAXI!
For which side Ma?
You don’t know Badore, after Ajah?
Em… I don’t.
Never mind then….
No, no, I can go ma, just direct me …
After Ajah, at 8pm, from Yaba, that’s almost three hours on the road and I still have to make it back in time to finish my EEG201 assignment and get fuel….
Are you not going?
Two thousand Ma.
With that the twenty something looking, slightly plum and very light-skinned lady turned around and gestured at a similarly young girl but much slimmer and much more attractive who I hadn’t noticed. She had with her a small leather travel bag which she gracefully carried as she made her way to the car.
From the moment they both got in, they buried their heads into their phones –those blackberries I see a lot of people going around with on campus. Occasionally, each one would look up, giggle and turn to look at the other – and they say this isn’t partial insanity. Sabo, Alagomeji and even Third mainland were free – thank God. As I approached Lekki phase one, the big one burst out into wild laughter that got me wondering what kind of joke she must have read off that thing.
The skinny one: Kasandra wish one na. This one wey you just dey laff like say you chop winsh.
The big one (still laughing, she hands her phone to the skinny one): You sef take read am.
A few seconds later the skinny one also bursts into wild laughter. As much as I try to stay out of my passengers business, I was curious about this. I wanted to hear this ridiculously funny joke.
The skinny one: This stupid man think say you no dey watch news. How many months now dem don reverse him election wey he still dey behave like say him dey state house.
The big one: See me see trouble oh.
The Skinny one: See, make I just tell you my own, wetha he dey or he no dey the price na still the same
The fat one: wish kain same. Mscheeeew. When him successor don raise stakes. Ik per girl or nothing.
They both laugh and almost simultaneously return to typing on their phones. “1k per girl” I didn’t even want to imagine what that meant. It could mean all sorts of bad or even good things. That was the least of my problems, it was now past nine and we had just gotten past Lekki phase two. The traffic was there but was moving. I watched several hawkers walk past us in traffic displaying various snacks, and my stomach grumbled but I turned my mind to my assignment – every dime I had now had to go into savings for Dr. Okeke’s textbook. A few minutes later, the big one beckoned to one of the Gala hawkers. The boy came running.
The big one: Debby you go chop?
The skinny one: Kassy stop all this thing na, I don tell you say Chris talk say make I dey watch my weight. Na you dey always tempt me with all this nonsense food.
The big one: (laughing) No be only watch weight, lepa like you. Biko, no vex, so na bad thing say I offer you food now, God go deliver you. Abeg bring four gala.
FOUR! I couldn’t help taking a look at her through my rearview mirror. And it seemed my stomach was also interested in the conversation as it grumbled once again, louder this time. So loud, I think the big one heard. She turned to look at me at that point and said:
The big one: Abi you sef no mind?
Me: Err… I’m ok ma.
The big one: Ah, you sef dey watch your weight abi na over fine boys dey worry you. Better collect and eat. Give him two and call that malt boy for me.
She proceeded to buy two cans of Malta Guiness for both of us and I thanked her over and over again. She didn’t know she had just saved my life. At about 10:30pm, we got to the turning into Badore with the help of directions provided by the big one. Minutes later, we got to the front of an unpainted building in a somewhat scarcely populated area. I wondered if I could even find my way out of there but I saved the thought for later. Both ladies made their way out of the car and instead of proceeding to pay me, the big one turned around and said:
Ehen, just wait for us, we’ll be out soon. You’ll take us to V.I.
EHN! V what? Before I could even speak up in protest, they had disappeared into the compound. V.I? At almost 11pm. I have died today. I still have my assignment and I have to get enough rest before my 8am lecture tomorrow. This is why I never take these Island trips. Always one drama after the other. I only pray they just want to change and come back out.
I can’t take this anymore. I need to get out of here. I proceeded to knock on the gate but just then, I noticed a couple of vigilante patrolmen coming my way. I went back into my car and started the engine. When they got to me, I noticed they had on all black attires with red headbands – OPC. One of them peered into the car.
OPC man1: Ekaale o (Good Evening)
Me: Ekaale Sir
OPC man1: Se iwo nikan lo wa ni abi awon iyoku e nko? (Did you come alone or are there more of you?)
Me: Ehn. Sir, I’m just a taxi driver, I’m waiting for some ladies I brought here.
OPC man1 started to laugh and turned to look at the other man. They both laughed for a while and then the second man looked at me and asked me to come out of the car. In fear, I came out wondering what was going to happen.
OPC man2: Na people like you dey spoil this our country. See young boy like you, you go pretend say you be taxi driver come dey look for house wey you fit sneak inside go thief for night.
Me: Err… Me? Sneak? Thief? Nooo oh sir there ….
OPC man1: Will you sharrap there. You think say we no see you when you wan jack that gate. Na God catch you today.
In one swift move, OPC man2 swept me off my feet and held both of my hands behind my back.
Me: Sir, ejo ejo… mi o se nkan kan. Passenger ni mo gbe wa. (sir, please, please, I’ve done nothing wrong, I only brought passengers here)
OPC man1: O ri ole ara e, o ti e gbo Yoruba o wa n so oyinbo. (look at this thief, he can even speak yoruba and he was speaking English)
OPC man2: You go talk all that one for cell. Oya, lets go.
OPC man2 began dragging me away and just then, the black gate opened and out came four young ladies, among them, the big and the skinny one.
The big one: Baba Paro wetin be all this one now. Una don come this night again. Wetin this man do una now ehn, wetin.
One of the other ladies: No mind them. Na only small boys dem fit they use show power. Una go talk say una no know say na taxi man.
OPC Man1: ehn ehn ehn… sharrap there. Everyone here fit talk but you this dirty one with that your kpekpeye mouth just shutup.
Kpekpeye girl: Ehn, na who be kpekpeye girl. See this old shameless man.
She moved forward towards OPC man1 and it was then I saw what she was wearing, which was pretty much nothing. Underwear? Swim wear? I don’t even know how to describe it. She had on these ridiculously high heels, which made it hard for her to walk and she also held something that looked like a jacket in the other hand. Before she could get to us, the skinny one held her back and told her to calm down. She then came towards us and spoke in hushed tones to OPC man2 who then let go of me. The girls then made their way into the car where I already sat as I had moved swiftly immediately I was released. In a matter of seconds I started the car and began to drive off even as I noticed OPC man1 hurling curses at kpekpeye girl.
The big one sat in front with me while the other three sat behind. All the bottled up anger in me had vanished and as I checked the clock on my dashboard, which read 12:13am, all I wanted to do was just get back to my room in school. Just then, I felt a hand on my face. I flinched a bit and then noticed it was the big one; her left hand was rubbing the back of my neck and then she spoke.
The big one: Eh yah, fine boy, shey dey no too rough you sha.
Me: I’m ok ma.
The big one: (laughing) Ma ke? Na who be ma. (she turned to look at the others who were also laughing). Abeg oh, my name is Kasandra, Kassy for short.
Me: Thank you …. Kassy. I said, even as I eased her hand off my neck.
It was at this point that I first took a glance at my rear view mirror to take a proper look at my passengers. The skinny one sat directly behind me. She had on something that looked like a sleeveless short black dress; the ones they call boob tubes, simple but nice. The other two girls that sat beside her were clearly the opposite. The girl who sat in the middle was of average size, light skinned and heavily made-up.
She had on some sort of see-through/netty red material. Beneath which she had on black underwear. Kpekpeye girl sat behind the fat one and even though she now had on her jacket, I still couldn’t bring myself to understand why anyone would dress like that to a club. Yes, I figured they were one of those party clubbers I’ve heard about. What’s my own, as long as they pay me for my trouble and I get back to school in one piece.
12:40am I went past the Mobil building and then through Adetokunbo Ademola back into V.I and I asked the big one, Kassy where we were heading. Adeyemo Alakija, she replied turning to look at the others for confirmation. The netty one replied yes. In a few minutes I turned off Ozumba and Kassy asked me to go in through Idowu Taylor. As I turned back into Adeyemo Alakija, I noticed it was about 12:50am, I also noticed a handful or girls of the night sprinkled alongside the road. Waaoow. I had never been on the Island this late since I came to Lagos two years ago. For a second I was happy I had obeyed Mama’s instructions with regards to staying out late – well, up until now that is.
The big one: You can park here.
She pointed to a dimly lit spot opposite a brightly lit building with a signage that simply read “YNot”. I noticed a lot of activity at the entrance of the building – hefty looking men, probably bouncers, guys and a handful of girls walking into the building. Hmm… This must be one of the happening clubs, I thought to myself as I parked. The girls got out and this time, I made sure I also got out and stood by my door. The big one walked towards me even as the others walked towards the YNot building.
The big one: Fine Boy, sorry again about those men. Wetin be your name sef?
Me: My name? My name is Azeez.
The big one: Azeez? No o… I will call you A-Zed. Don’t you like that? Fine boy like you should have fine name. Ok, we are going to be inside for a while. Shey you’ll wait for us so when we’re done you’ll take us back.
Me: Ha.. err.. Kassy, I have another appointment, I really have to…
As I tried to find the right words, she produced a purse from only God knows where and brought out some notes from it which she stuffed into my hands. I looked down and noticed they were all one thousand Naira notes. My estimation? About 8 of them. Yekpa.
The big one: Look, you are a fine boy, you should be taken care of even while you’re working. Take that and go and find something to eat somewhere. We will soon be out.
With that she walked swiftly into the YNot building. On closer examination, I realized she had given me ten thousand naira.
TEN THOUSAND NAIRA.