Traffic. This is the second most spoken language in Lagos. Did you ask what the first is? That would be money. So, back to traffic. When you sit still with a smartphone running low and battery and morale too low to read a book, you just stare.

You stare at the curb crowded with tens of people at every bus stop. Their faces expectant, hoping that your bus would have space for them to get on. Name the price, they are willing to pay. Tonight is not the time for the exploitation speech; people just want to get off the streets and go home. Tomorrow is another day for work in the city.

So, you stop staring and slide down in your seat. It is one of the two passenger seats in the 32-seater bus. With its cushioned foam and complete leather covering, you struck a gold mine. Other passengers have to contend with adjusting to the two wooden planks nailed together as seats. Or perhaps, they are as grateful as you for just being on the bus.

The bus driver trudges on with every little space created by movement in traffic. Every so often, he sighs. He cannot believe he is stuck in traffic tonight. He has already budgeted how many trips he can make tonight. They cannot happen now. You sigh. You remember your boss who asked you to wait to discuss a proposal. It was a meeting that ended with resending an email. You imagine him sprawled out on his sofa at home catching up with world news. You curse your naiveté.

There are a few hawkers selling snacks and drinks. You are thirsty, but you remember the first rule of Lagos traffic. Do not drink to avoid emergencies. You had one two months ago and resorted to hobbling at the door of a complete stranger. He opened his toilet to you and you were grateful. Still, it was a risky venture. Ladies, strangers, and closed door do not make for happy endings.

So, when your co-passenger in the front seat buys ten sachets of plantain chips, you look away. He opens a pack and offers one to the driver who gladly accepts and lets his pack rest on the dashboard. “Here is one for you”, he offers. This is not a moment to respond with a polite negative. “Thank you!” You rip open your pack and dig in. The sweetness hits you first, then the subtle spice ending with a crunchiness that numbs your mind.


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