One Wednesday Evening…

“Praaaaaaaaise the Lord!” the call suddenly rang, quite cheerfully. But that wasn’t what made the eyes of most of the passengers widen…

The bus had filled quite quickly that Wednesday evening; everyone was trying to escape the threatening clouds. Trust Wasiu and his conductor – all Dele needed was the signal, and the subsidy on t-fare was surreptitiously removed. Commuters always rejected the injustice of these guys taking undue advantage of them, and refused to pay. When full of gin tonight, Wasiu and Dele would waste no time ridiculing these fools who didn’t understand business and economics; and some would be claiming ‘graduate’. The smart ones jumped into the bus anyway, the booming thunder all the prodding they needed.

Her gaze was towards the glass shutters, perhaps that’s what made her oblivious to the stares she was getting from most of the passengers. The small black object on her totally exposed thighs – only God knows what she was trying to use her Bible-resembling purse to cover up; it was glaringly futile, like trying to mop water at the bar beach. The micro micro-skirt, with a slit on top: maybe that was why she decided to sit at the far back corner of the bus, so no one could spy her too much, though that didn’t stop some brothers from trying. No, it couldn’t be a Bible, many of the passengers must’ve reasoned. This girl was going to a club. It was still too early in the evening though, but that was the only reasonable conclusion – she had to be, it was still too early to be coming from one. Her ill-fitting black tank top and bare shoulders cemented this view amongst many.

Which made it all the more surprising when she suddenly gave the call to worship…

“Praaaaaaaaaaaaaise the Lord!” she beamed, her eyes widening slightly in delight mixed with some stage fright. Her smile was a bit contagious though. The reaction she caused was too…

“Huh?!” not a few people stuttered.

She thought they hadn’t heard her but were eager to listen, so she pressed on. “Shall we just take a moment to hear a word from the Lo…–”

“Shut up!” the bark jarred everyone suddenly; even the driver hesitated from changing gears, afraid those LASTMA guys had finally caught him sans seat-belt.

“I said SHUT THE F**K UP!” the young man was quite livid, for some reason. Unfortunately for her, he was sitting right beside her. He pierced the would-be preacher with his hard gaze and fuming exhales, seemingly drilling into her very soul, while everyone’s curiosity rose. Who be this guy, and why hin dey para? (yoruba; Who is this man, and why is he getting annoyed?)

YOU? Want to preach?” he scoffed, eyeing her from head to toe derisively. “What makes you different from the aşęwo(yoruba; prostitute/loose person) I f***ed last night?” Everyone’s curiosity got satiated. Some silently nodded in approval; others, repulsed, thought he was out of line and vulgar for the comment, and a few still giggled at the sheer randomness of the entire thing. Nobody, however, said a word, or replied.

The agitated man said no more, opting to only stare a little longer, before letting out a lenghty, venomous hiss of disdain. The young miss was frozen, her brain obviously reeling – they taught her to expect to be shunned or drowned out, but no one had ever mentioned anything like this happening in bus evangelism. She complied, sealing her proselytizing lips before they even had a chance to open…

“Cinema!” yelled the conductor, after a brief moment of silence, asking if anyone wanted to alight at the now deserted cinema that used to be a popular joint just five years ago, before the full explosion of the internet. The world changed so fast, even more so in recent years…

O wa!(yoruba; there is!)” replied the ‘evangelist’. Dele furrowed his brow: he could’ve sworn the girl had negotiated a fare for the last bus-stop, not here. Why was she changing her mind? Well, whatever the case, that was her problem, he concluded, silently swearing to give her hell if she dared demand any change from him. Lucky for her, she alighted without a word, but not without causing one more scene…

It was quite the circus show, watching the ballet act of her struggling to find the perfect angle of bending without exposing her derrière, while also raising her chest without revealing the entirety of her goods, all while shuffling through the tiny passage-way these infernal buses afforded. Finally alighting, she briskly walked away from the bus, though constantly stealing gazes over her shoulder towards it.

He bowed his head and prayed, reaching for his rosary. Part of the priest wanted to feel some pity for her – her feeling of shame must have been imaginably high. Plus, she was sure to catch a cold, or worse, should the rain start and beat her already almost naked self. But, the loudmouth (for that was what he was) protestor was somehow right: she was a shame to the church. Didn’t she have any common sense, talk-less of dress sense? Youths of nowadays and their dressing…and even in the church! O di ghi mma (igbo; it’s not good). Well, whatever the case, that was her problem, he concluded, silently happy he had found the next sermon for the coming mass on Sunday…to think that God would minister it to him in this way…His ways really are past finding out…

He was very angry at the ęlęnu nla(yoruba; big mouth) for spoiling the show…chai! See the tantalizing asampete (igbo; slang for “Fine/Beautiful” woman/lady) in his bus, her melons breaking free of their captors to see the sky, her skirt waaay shorter than a radio advert…it all made Wasiu think of one night with her, away, of course, from his iya Bisi!(yoruba; alternate way of ‘saying mother of my child Bisi’). On top of that, she wanted to preach – perfect! He could’ve cornered her at the last bus-top, and said he needed her ‘prayers’, ęlęşę(yoruba; sinner) like him, and played his cards well – these gullible Christian sisters were the easiest fish to catch nowadays! Alas, being the driver of the bus, plus the threatening rain, made it so he couldn’t stop to give the protestor a piece of his mind, so he just drove on, snapping and snarling at his conductor more than usual…

She groaned silently, anticipating the upcoming mental strain. Mrs. Adiwo had survived a very hectic day, the hyperactive Tomide on her lap not making it any easier. Just when she thought she would get home easily, it threatened to rain, so she had to fight for a suddenly limited bus space for herself, Tomide and baby Lanre on her back. Having conquered that, not without spilling some vitriol, heaven forgive her, this prostitute and this whoremonger just had to go and make things worse. Tomide was already staring up at her, and Mrs. Adiwo already knew what the look on the toddler meant:

Mummy, kini itumǫ ‘aşęwo’ yii?(yoruba; Mum, what’s the meaning of this ‘aşęwo’?)

Kilode ti obinrin yęn o waşǫ? (yoruba; How come that lady didn’t wear clothes?)

Anti Temi nkǫ? Şe aşęwo ni wǫn? Şebi ę ti pe wǫn aşęwo ri…(yoruba; How about Aunt Temi? Is she an aşęwo? Since you’ve called her that before…)

Yes, Mrs. Adiwo groaned silently, anticipating the upcoming mental strain from Tomide’s sure to come barrage of questions…all thanks to one stupid woman somewhere who didn’t train her daughter to dress right. Stupid aşęwo …

The majestic clouds boomed on – a marvelous orchestra of pounding tympanis and sporadic drum rolls. The rain, however, chose to wait till the middle of that night to torrentially pour…

 

(Note: all this na fiction…well, except for the guy challenging the would-be preacher girl: that, I heard, actually happened…)

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