Venue – The Tafawa Balewa Stadium
Time – 7:30am
Dress code – White top, blue jeans and flat black shoes.
Can’t really recall what other words were written in the message, but those three details I will not forget.
I woke up early that Saturday morning, just imagine the time I would need to make that time to the island from the mainland, yes, I did.
I thought it was a governor’s daughter’s wedding or a grand party. Little did I know that the agency I was registered with was in alliance with a political party that needed over 250youths for their campaign.
Arriving the venue, I could only stop and stare at the multitude. From youths, to various associations across the country and states.
The day turned out to be stressful. Thank God they had the sense to prepare us by telling us to put on flats. I met school friends, old friends and made new friends. But there is one I would never forget and without her, this story would not be written, Regina.
Regina was chubby. That fair Ibo homey girl that when she laughs, you have no choice but to join in. Gets scared easily and sees anyone that can do something she can’t as a God. She had a mind of her own though and is very pushy in a persuasive way.
The campaign left me stranded at Obalende. No available bus was going my way. It was already few minutes to six and my mom would soon start hounding with calls.
The garage boys told me to relax on a bench that a new bus would be coming. While sitting and chatting away with my illegal whatsapp on my Asha 201 , Regina and her cousins(the twins) walked into the bus station.
Trust Regina to start singing my praises to them of how beautiful I am, calm and selfless. I helped her with this, the list goes on. I sat there smiling willing her presence to go, but no. We ended up finding out we were going with the same bus and I was like,
While Regina was like,
Not long after Regina stopped me from chatting, the bus came along. Every other person that I knew not rushed into the bus. Regina sat on the first row, while I sat on the second close to the bus conductor.
She turned back to me, smiled and in that but persuasive way of hers, she pleaded I come sit with her and I reluctantly did. I had no time for girlie stories of where I got my jeans, who made my hair and focused on my ‘illegal chat’.
Our bus moved from the station and headed towards the mainland. We were on the third mainland bridge (3MB), we had not gotten past the second ambulance point when I looked up from my phone for a second and saw a movie scene from Fast and Furious 6 I would never forget.
A salon car that was directly in front of our bus stopped abruptly. Our driver swerved to the right and was too close to the other car in front of which he had to swerve back/sandwich himself between two cars to come up front for space in front. I looked behind and saw cars had stopped moving behind us.
I thought we were safe already, I bent my head back to my illegal chat and was typing, I’m in an accident, about to die.
Next I felt was out bus going right on one side, then left, then climbing up the barricade and GBAM.
I thought we were drowning in the Lagos Lagoon. I once read a poem in primary school about her.
In my mind, I was calmly shouting blood of Jesus like a million times. In my mind we were inside the beautiful lagoon.
I raised my head from the middle of water covering my head to hear women in the bus screaming. Even Regina. I was the only calm one. I want to believe I always freeze while in shock to think things through.
“My baby, my baby”
The lady who said that had given her baby to the woman seated beside her. The woman was nowhere to be found. She had to be tapped and assured that she had retrieved her baby from the woman and was causing harm to him as she was screaming and squeezing him to her chest.
“Fuck this shit”
The man who said that was just returning from an interview where he had lied about his credentials and was not even sure he would be awarded the contract. He then realized death was near and would have to to hell for something that finally never came. When he said Fuck this shit, he actually threw his folder in the air. They had to pick his strewn credentials from the bridge and back to him.
The conductor fell from the bus and had serious body and bone damage that the first thing he was asking for after loosing so much blood was cigarettes.
I could taste the metallic smell of blood.
The lady who was initially no where to be found was flung far from the bus. Her head had hit the barricade. She was bleeding all over. The beautiful black tarred bridge had marred her skin.
She was sitting were I stubbornly did not want to give up to sit with Regina.
Regina on the other hand, jumped out of the bus with her mom on speed dial. After the lengthy we just had an accident speech, she turned to me and said.
“You were the only one that wasn’t afraid or scream”
If only she knew.