I found out tonight how I want to die. Before, I thought I wanted to die in my sleep at a smug old age, while nestled up against the person I love. Today, I realised peace in an unlikely situation and thought, it wouldn’t be so bad to go this way.
I’m at Ójóò bus terminal, in the front seat of the bus headed for Iseyin. I’m belatedly wishing I took a few more hits of the blunt I rolled at my friend’s place. Are we friends? We’re certainly more than acquaintances. Interpret that how you will. My high is wearing off, mostly because this woman has been trying to sell me eggs for over ten minutes.
Let me start the story from the beginning, which is the fact that there hasn’t been any proper debauchery in my life for a while. I’m scandalised myself, considering the fact that debauchery is one of my escapes from the stress of adulthood and adulthood wan kill me. I’ve been in Nigeria for close to a month. It’s been an adventure on its own, and while I’m all for showing up in full ashawo gear to turn up till dawn, I’m living in a Residence as far from enjoyment as you can imagine.
The house is on the outskirts of town, in a community which is largely Muslim. It’s not me that’s going to be out after dark in a strange country all by myself. So, you can imagine how excited it made me when I met someone on Tinder who wanted to hang out with me. If there’s anything I’ve learned from Tinder, it’s that bios are quite important. After we swore to each other that we both aren’t serial killers, we decided it was okay if we hung at hers. The agenda was food, weed, music and a movie or two.
I’ve decided to get a piercing and/or a tattoo in every country I visit. This is my last weekend in Nigeria and since I am not in the mood to confront Lagos traffic to go get a tattoo, I decided to get pierced in semi-familiar Ibadan. The itinerary for today was quite simple; get pierced, eat amala and efo riro at Ola Mummy Restaurant and get stoned with a stranger I met on the internet like a week ago.
The journey to Ibadan was largely uneventful, except for the time at a police checkpoint when the driver said something in Yoruba and everyone in the car turned to stare at me and began to murmur among themselves. I’ve long become immune to the murmurings of people who don’t have the balls to say whatever it is to my face, in a language I understand. I was unmoved.
Getting my piercing was largely stress free, except for the part where one of them wouldn’t stop bleeding for several minutes. I was going to get one piercing and on a whim decided on two. I had extra money because tattoos cost more to get than piercings and that had been the initial plan. I bled so much, I used up a lot of cotton wool. The amount of red I saw on the floor after the whole thing was over surprised me. The artist said this rarely happened; it’d been ages since someone had bled that much in his studio. You know the weird part of the whole situation? I wasn’t worried that I was bleeding. In fact, I found it strangely arousing, and I’ve shelved it for later analysis. Call me fucked up, but there was something hot about the blood dripping from above my eye and marking a crimson path down my cheek. It wasn’t just the sight of the blood alone, it was the feel of it. It was warm, comforting and smooth. It felt like a caress; I liked it. Man was worried about the bleeding and I was secretly hoping the second piercing would be as effusive. No such luck.
After the aftercare advice and all that, he tried to sell me strapons and vibrators. I would’ve bought them if I’d known I’d encounter them. My pocket was prepared only for piercings, wine and amala. I got my amala, a bottle of wine and arrived at Esse’s, — which is what we’re going to call my Tinder date — after a rather interesting okada ride.
As planned, there was weed, there was cooking and there was music. There was also a rather hilarious movie. The Disaster Artist, I think is what it was called. She had a cute and well behaved cat called Doja. Yes, you guessed right; Doja’s surname is Cat. The weed and the wine were a good chaser for the spaghetti and fish sauce we made. Esse was a vibe though, no cap. I’ll tell you all about it some time. We got so faded, I forgot that I had to return to Iseyin and Nigeria isn’t safe at night. During the day sef na wahala, before nighttime? The cars to Iseyin at Iwo Road were finished. Iwo Road isn’t very far from Esse’s, and it was where I’d planned to get my ride home. No cars at Iwo Road meant Ójóò was my portion.
The average okada ride in my limited experience, costs about four hundred naira. It’s less for trips within town. So when the okada rider unwaveringly stood by his charge of N1, 500, I knew the street dude I’d tipped N250 to help me get a cab hadn’t been joking when he said it was a distance and okada wasn’t safe. I left the cab after about ten minutes of waiting with nary a passenger coming on board. It was past 7pm, and Nigerian cars were overloaded everywhere. Five more passengers had to join me before the car would move. Including the driver, that’s seven people in a small car designed for five people. Then, there was the endless traffic Nigeria is plagued with. I had no idea what time the last bus would leave the station, and I was in no mood to be stranded in a strange city. Okada wasn’t safe but it was fast and it was available.
I could afford the high price so after a weak attempt at haggling that yielded no fruit, I hopped on the bike behind Baba Oba and we began the journey to Ójóò bus terminal. It was on this trip that it came to me the manner in which I wish to go.
Iwo Road is actually a distance from Ójóò. It took us a while. It also explains why Baba Oba was speeding like the demons from his village were chasing us. Neither of us had a helmet and the road wasn’t very good. The rider sped though as if we were riding on some high quality asphalt road. I felt every bump in my throat, on god. I was high, travelling at breakneck speed in a strange country with no form of identification on my person. As I was contemplating my mortality, the gentle drizzle that had stopped earlier started again. Because of the speed of the bike, what would have been gentle kisses on my face were sharp pricks, the precipitation fogging up my glasses. It occurred to me that I was supposed to be panicking and afraid for my life. Instead though, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I suddenly felt very alive..
The ride was still very bumpy, but I couldn’t see the bumps anymore. I couldn’t steel myself adequately. I refuse to hold on to the rider whenever I get an okada and today was no exception. A rather aggressive bump could displace me, and at this speed? I would be dead before my body finished bouncing on the road, if it wouldn’t smash to pieces on impact. I was sitting on a bike, high as fuck, with the rain giving me free acupuncture on my face and arms. My eyes were closed, and the wind was a howling ghoul in my ear. I suddenly had the thought that this was what freedom felt like. I felt very much at peace. Right now won’t be such a bad time to die, and this won’t be a terrible way to go.
I arrived in one piece at the terminal, and after the rider hit on me, told me his name and gave me his number, I climbed into the front of the bus and told the driver I’d take both seats. I wasn’t in the mood for other people. The day had been long and it was suddenly hitting me that I had just found serenity in a seriously life threatening and not at all peaceful situation.
So, here we are at Ójóò terminal, waiting for the bus to get full. The egg seller has accepted that I am not going to buy any eggs and is now demanding that I give her money because she has to feed herself and pay her bills. She saw my eyebrow piercings and ring-laden fingers and as is the manner of many Africans who cling to stereotypes, she assumed I was some rich kid from abroad. If not, why is she calling me black oyibo and telling me she knows I have money and there is more when I go home. Though I’m quite flattered by the fact that she has called me beautiful about ten times in about twice as less minutes, I’m going to tell her in polite but firm language that she isn’t my responsibility and her bills don’t concern me. After, I’ll open Spotify and put on my comfort playlist, turn the volume all the way up, close my eyes and wait for this bus to leave. Then, as the wind slaps my face as the bus hurtles down the road, I’ll hope that the peace I found today on that speeding bike, stays with me for a very long time.