I was going to fail my holding-back-of-laughter skills when Debola swiftly changed topic. “Onitsha is even good sef, have you heard about Okija shrine?”- He asked as he stuffed two Mr Biggs doughnuts down his throat. “Abeg, Abeg, enough juju gist for me please, thank you”-I said in urgent fright.
“Haha, you dey fear?
Debola knew everything about Anambra but he was over the top with ‘juju’.
He started to go off about how terrible Nigeria’s government was but I was distracted by Lagbaja’s “surulere” that escaped from the bus’ speakers. I nodded my head as though I was listening to Debola, whereas I was bopping to the Lagbaja classic.
Three hours into our journey and Debola was still talking so I pretended to fall asleep. He finally shut up and fell asleep too. I snapped out of my pretense and resumed eating the roasted plantain and boiled groundnuts mother had made me. At the front sit of the bus was a pregnant woman with two toddlers. Her legs where dusty and her sandals looked to be fading off the earth. “Hungry, mummy I’m hungry”- one of the kids cried. The other one persistently played with a sekere(traditional tambourine)as though he were at church. Two women dressed in white garments proceeded to sing praise and worship songs as a group of three men discussed football. It was like all elements of disturbance were birthed at that instance. I was anticipating a man with a sermon or a quack pharmacist adversing the new cure for cancer, malaria and HIV. Surely enough, a man got up to talk about Heaven and hell. “Isn’t this a luxurious bus”: I thought. It seemed like I had entered a ‘moluwe’ or a ‘Danfo’. The noise was starting to irritate me but lagbaja again came to the rescue as “Cooluu-Cooluu temper, coolu temper” vibrated from the speakers.
Besides the rowdiness of the bus and Debola’s endless jabber, my journey was disheartened by the thought of Clarence. Clarence was a flaming tribalist who really didn’t like the idea of his daughter dating a Yoruba boy. I wasn’t too disappointed by him because Aunty Yemisi, “big mummy” like we called her was also not into the idea of inter-tribal relationships. You’d think her Havard education would indicate otherwise. “Big mummy” was what you’d call a black racist. She didn’t like white people. “An eye for an eye” was her philosophy. She didn’t like hausa’s too. She pretty much disliked having relations with anyone that wasn’t Yoruba. She had to gather all the self control in the world to allow relations with Yoruba people that weren’t from our state: she was that deluded. She would say “Igbo people are like oyinbos that’s why they are all yellow”.
Nobody dared oppose big mummy. She was the most educated, wealthiest and oldest un-senile relative hence making her the most influential.
My parents told her I went on a research trip. “A school project” they told her.
Having big mummy in my bloodline made it easier for me to deal with Clarence.
The first face I saw when we got to the Garage at Onitsha was Clarence’s. I was terrified, he had the same folded forehead and ruthless dentition as he did on the only visiting day he came to see Ada.
“Guu, good afternoon sir”
“I love your daughter sir”
“Sorry sir, gu, good afternoon sir”
He laughed and griped my palms into a fierce but warm handshake. He could tell I was frightened by him, that brought him some comic relief.
“Fiyin! Fiyin! Fiyin!”- Ada’s voice echoed from a distance. I contemplated running towards her but the figurative flares from Clarence’s nose kept me in my anatomical position.
I Hugged Ada for a good two minutes. She smelled the same, like the powder she used in secondary school. Like Ada. My plum, my sweet sugary Ada. Finally, the journey had been worth it.