“YOu dey mad! Your father left yansh dia! ! Bloody bascard!”
I sighed in frustration. There are few things I hate more than one driver insulting the other over someone’s error of judgement while trying to overtake someone else. Especially when one of those drivers is the driver of the bus I was on, heading to a job interview this fine Monday morning.
Actually, the bus driver was at fault. He had tried overtaking when it was obvious that the Rav 4 beside him was already partially past him. So when the bus almost grazed the new-looking car, I was surprised to see the driver yell out first.
“You no go commot this carton wey you dey use block road. Nonsense and rubbish. Person no go buy better car, dey use sugar carton dey block road.”
I glanced around the bus. Bare wires were poking out from every corner. There were at least 20 Pasuma stickers of varying poses and ridiculosity on the windscreen. The seat was hard as rock and the bus smelt of wet fish. Hardly paradise compared with the Rav 4 that looked fresh from a dealership. Clearly the guy in the Rav 4 wasn’t hearing what the driver was saying. Partly because he had already zoomed off which was a blessing, considering most other drivers would have parked right at the center of the road to check if their car had actually been scratched. Also because his windows were up and his car’s airconditioner appeared to be doing a pretty good jub. Meanwhile, the shirtless driver, who was perspiring heavily, was still yelling invectives at the vehicle that had now put good distance between them.
I don’t know why it seems like whenever i’m on a bus heading to somewhere important, things like this happen. About three weeks ago, I was on a bus heading to a different job interview when the bus I was on almost scratched a black Toyota Camry while trying to overtake. Well, the first sign of trouble was that I had spotted a federal government number plate when the bus was still behind. Clearly the driver hadn’t spotted it when he screamed “your father there” and called the Camry driver’s mother a prostitute.
It still didn’t occur to him when the Camry sped up and cut him off, forcing him to park – that only seemed to infuriate him further.
It only began to dawn on him when a a very black man in green camouflage pants and black boots emerged from the passenger side of the car clutching a horswehip.
It had clearly dawned on him when he began to struggle with the seatbelt.
And by the time the soldier who had biceps that looked like miniature wine barrels had dragged him from the bus and he was yelping “officer abeg”, it was clear he was in major trouble.
The officer seemed to be in a good mood afterall and let him off lightly with five slaps and ten lashes of the whip. It was the first time I had ever seen a grown man cry after a beating and he alternatively sniffed and wiped his eyes all the way to our destination. When a Golf wrongly overtook him near the bus stop, he did not say a word.
Or once, my sister and I had just left church and were heading to the airport to pick her husband who had just flown in from Abuja. I hadn’t learnt how to drive yet so she was driving, humming a song as she drove and generally carrying the aura of holiness from church when she suddenly had to swerve to avoid a pothole she had barely spotted, in the process nearly grazing a beat up Maxima on the other lane.
“Sorry!” she called to the driver, waving in apology. “I was trying to avoid a pothole!”
The beat up driver was having none of that.
“Are you mad? How can you be driving recklessly like that? If you don’t know how to drive then park this your jalopy and stop causing accidents all over LAgos!”
I could see that my sister’s initial apologetic disposition had faded to slight anger but we were just coming from church so she decided to keep her tongue and ask herself “what would Jesus do?”. The beat up man kept right on – while both cars were still in motion.
“All these women who feel they must drive because their husbands have cars. You won’t stay at home just be jumping around causing problems.”
My sister started humming “Jesus is the answer for the world today.”
“Nonsense. Better go back to driving school. Only goodness knows who you slept with for a drivers license.”
My sister’s knuckles were nearly white from gripping the steering wheel. I knew if the guys said one more word, she would explode.
You know those points in cetain Hollywood movies when someone says something shocking and you hear a record scratch followed by uncomfortable silence? I heard that that moment. Or maybe it was the sound of the tires screeching as my sister suddenly slammed on the brakes.
Then she accelerated, blocked off the Maxima, got out and headed from the car. Fromt he rear view mirror, I could see the mask of amazement and surprise on the beat up man’s face.
“Me! Lezb1an abi! You will explain to me today which of the female members of your family has been doing me.”
My sister is a – well – formidable woman. And the beat up man looked like Saka suffering from malnutrition. It was all I could to drag her away from the man who was trying to shrink into his car seat while muttering “no, no, no..it was a mistake…” It made a huge impression on me, how quickly people get angry while driving and I resolved that when I started driving, I would not let that kind of anger get the better of me.
That was, of course, till the first time I actually drove my father’s car out to go buy diesel for the generator. I was turning out of the street into the adjoining street when a white Jetta sped across, hitting the front bumper and knocking out the left headlamp.
The anger welled up in me faster than the speed of light.
I leaned out of the window.
By Senb Kageyoshi