The cunning beggar with the living imagination

I hurried through the midst of people walking along the road, market women carrying their wares, wheelbarrow pushers shouting and cursing at passer-bys who stood in their way. I sighed in a desperate need to get to the side of sane people. A shoulder hit against mine causing me to almost fall but I straightened myself and continued to walk resisting the urge to turn back and curse the unapologetic man who had just hit me.
From where I stood across the road I could see that the early morning rush at the bus station was beginning to build up and I needed to cross the busy road to join the queue. One kind driver stopped and I jumped into the road, barely missing being hit by a danfo driver who had burst out from behind the kind driver who had stopped for me to cross.
Quickly I joined the queue of passengers seeking to purchase their ticket to board the BRT bus at the Ketu bus station. There were only three buses and the first was already being filled up by the passenger on the line to enter the bus. If only I had come a bit earlier I would have been one of those people entering the bus not standing on this queue to buy a ticket. I was dancing from one foot to the other and in my mind urging the queue to move faster.
“Oh thank God!” I thought the queue had moved so quickly and I was the third with only a lady and another tall dark gentleman standing in front of me.
“Madam there is no change. What do you want me to do? Add hundred naira to it and collect four hundred.” I heard the female ticketer snap angrily at the lady standing in front of the tall dark gentleman.
“I don’t have. You are holding two fifty naira notes.” The lady complained.
“I have told you I don’t have change, madam please move aside.” The ticketer replied rudely.
Hurriedly I dug my hand into my bag and searched for the hundred Naira note I had dropped into my bag yesterday night after I had bought a packet of popcorn on my way home. Thankfully I found it and added it to the five hundred Naira note I was holding. The tall gentleman moved towards the queue of the passengers boarding the bus. I could see that the second bus was already loading.
I stretched out the money to the male ticketer and he directed me to the female ticketer. For a second I wondered what he was doing sitting there while only the lady sold to the now unnerving crowd. Well, it was not my problem; it was my turn after all. I stretched my money towards the lady and watched her glare at me for some minutes. It seemed she was angry I had change. Or maybe it was because I had tried to by pass her in the first place. I rolled my eyes when she collected the money and lowered her eyes to tear me a ticket.
“You problem hon, I am getting out of here ASAP!” I thought, collected my ticket, retrieved my change and headed towards the second queue. I heard the lady who had been standing by the side quarrel about the hundred Naira change I had just given to the female ticketer, well she should have been smarter and simply collected it from me before it got to the hand of the ticketer.
Not my business.
There were only two buses left and I was certain that no Jupiter on earth could work a magic that would get me into the first one but for the second one, there was hope for me. I was already running late for work and needed to be out of here before 7:30. That was like 5 minutes away.
Geez, If only I could push all those people standing in front of me into the bus so that I could get in and then push the driver to drive as fast as possible. I was to report at 8 0’clock every morning to work and here I was still in Ketu at 7:30. By the way, I work in an IT firm at Surulere so I would have to stop at Barracks bus station to get another Tricycle popularly known as Keke to get to my office.
I counted, one, two, three… there were seventeen people boarding the bus before me. I was glad. The first bus drove off and the next opened its front door and an officer started to receive the tickets of passengers and to let us in, one, two, three.
“Oh thank God,” I thought, “I will soon enter this bus.”
I took a quick glance at my wristwatch. 7:40. I sighed. I was definitely going to be late I might as well relax and start preparing my explanation for my boss.
“I swear I am telling the truth. My child was on the other bus that just left.” I heard a woman complain.
“Madam go and buy a ticket please.” The BRT officer that was checking tickets at the entrance scolded her.
“Please, my son is was with my bag and my phone too. I don’t have any money on me. He is a very small boy and will not know how to find me or where to stop.”
I watched with keen interest, my desperation forgotten for a moment. Some of the passengers who were also in a hurry begged the BRT officer to just let her in so that she would meet up with her son at Ojota, the next bus station, seeing that the bus would not have gone very far.
“Madam please stand aside.” The BRT officer told the woman angrily.
“Please move forward,” I told the tall gentleman in front of me.
I could tell he really was a gentleman because he didn’t try to force the woman or push her out of his way, instead he moved around her and handed his ticket over to the BRT officer.
“Oga please, don’t let me lose my child.” The woman had started to cry.
I could hear the panic in her voice though I didn’t think there were any tears coming out of her eyes. The crowd started to make comments; some were asking the officer to just let her in that she could stand. Some were calling the officer wicked. Some others were asking the woman what she was doing when her child entered the bus.
“Please ask her o.” The officer responded to the voice that had asked her where she was when her child boarded the previous bus. “Don’t mind her. I know her. She has come here with this kind of story before.”
That drew a ‘ah’ ‘hmm’ ‘beggars of these days’ from the crowd. I handed him my ticket and waited for the officer to cut mine and give it back to me so that I could enter the bus and sit beside the tall gentleman. That was if he had not gone to share seat with someone else. I didn’t want to let go of the scent of his perfume so quickly.

“Please oga, it is not me. I swear. I am telling you the truth.” She started to wail. “Jesu! Mogbe! My enemies have finally gotten me.” She was using her hands to scatter her scarf and hitting her palms against her laps.
I moved away from her fearing that her flying arms would soon hit me on the face.
“What is going on here?” the rude ticketer asked and came towards the railing where we were queuing up.
“Please help me and beg your colleague. My child entered the previous bus when I was not looking.”
“How do you know your child entered the bus?”
“Those women there…” she pointed towards the women hawking very close to the station, “told me. I went to ask them if they had seen him and they said he entered the bus.”
The rude ticketer hissed loudly.
“Madam, did you come to enter this bus before? Did you buy ticket?”
The woman shook her head then quickly nodded.
“So where is the ticket?”
“I put it in my bag and my son was carrying my bag.”
“Madam, so you were standing on this queue, your son entered the bus and you didn’t see him then you went backward to ask the hawkers not even other passengers on the queue with you? Eh o. madam remove yourself from that place before I get agberos that would remove you.” The rude ticketer replied her with a loud hiss before returning to her chair.
“Awon oloshi.” She murmured.
I retrieved my ticket from the officer and boarded the bus glad to have finally entered. I found the tall gentleman; luckily no one was seated beside him. I gave him the broadest smile I could muster and dumped myself in the seat beside him.


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