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In the morning of today, in a hurry to get to my destination, I jumped on the first commercial bus that hit the bus stop, clueless as to whether it was the right bus. Fortuitously, it was. The only unlucky thing was that I didn’t get a chance to briefly survey the bus before boarding. Just when buttocks met seat did I come to my senses. But, sadly, the conductor had shut the door tight – no chance of alighting till we got to the next bus-stop, metres away. I was offered a tiny space to sit in. He must have assumed, as they all do, that by my looks, I wasn’t one to protest my inconvenience. Boy, was he wrong: my mom taught me to have zero-tolerance for cheating; she’d been a fighter in her own prime.
The bus staggered forwards, and I sat in discomfort, jerking along with it, hurting my head in the process. Then the conductor began his duty of money collection. I had a 100 naira note in my purse, which was the bus fare, but I also had an extra 70 naira.
Now, since the naira lost its value (which it never really had) and since the fuel price reached for the stars, prices of goods and services have become overly exaggerated. At first, we all hoped time would return them to their normal state, but time just ignored and went on, leaving us to dwell in the permanence of the ruthless increment. In the case of this fare, it was originally 70 naira, so it felt fair that since I was not getting a good enough service, I’d just pay 70 naira. ‘I thought: there is no way I’m paying extra for discomfort’.
So when he turned to me, I complained about the seat and offered him the 70 naira. Then, in the most incomprehensible Yoruba I’d ever heard, he declared that all I’d just said was “story” and “grammar”, and that he understood nothing but the language of money. Well, since I wasn’t giving him any more than 70 naira and he wasn’t going to collect any less than 100 naira, I just waited to alight at the next bus stop, which he claimed was the limit of my money, all the while enduring his ugly face, deafening voice and putrid body odour.


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