It was supposed to be a fun day, the ultimate TGIF experience. We’d go swimming, eat expensive peppersoup, not the one found in the cholera joints Akure was dotted with. We had all skipped work thanks to NYSC’s monthly PV-signing and were all lounging and brimming with anticipation. What could possibly go wrong? I learnt a long time ago that that statement has the power to make everything go wrong. Murphy’s law states that everything that could go wrong, will go wrong!
The first wrongness was the sudden change in weather. Ondo state is called the sunshine state because the sun likes ‘ise takun takun’. Once it’s daybreak the sun comes out with such scorching ferocity that if there were any butas in the state they’d be packing the sun block and have umbrellas to fit every outfit. Thankfully it’s also a place almost devoid of butas as those who have enough money dream of bigger cities and run away as soon as they can own a bank account! So there we were banking on the sun to do what it did best when suddenly the sky turned a funny color and then we heard the rumbling thunder. Not to be deterred we settled on a big brunch while waiting for the rain to stop. Half an hour later my comrades and I were stuffed, sleepy and rationalizing that if we went swimming now, we’d not only get cramps cos it’s a known fact that you do not swim after you eat but we’d also catch pneumonia and die cos it was so so cold. So we decided to take a short nap and wake up as soon as the sun had warmed up.
We woke up 5 hours later, shocked at the nerve of our bodies to betray us in such a manner. We decided to take quick showers, slap on some baffs and makeup and go eat peppersoup since swimming on a Friday evening was akin to begging for an audience of round bellied middle-aged men cheering at all the free, fresh booty.
We finally left home at 7pm feeling brave and already almost-tasting the pepper water with fresh point and kill. We got to ‘oja’ and the nightmare began!
The bikemen that took us to the market that was in the heart of the town and the only place where you could get transportation everywhere within the state should have warned us that they had started their Friday night grooving earlier than usual. Initially they drove carefully to put us in the place of false security and as we were approaching the market started driving like they’d promised Baba some heads. I had only just recovered from my first bike accident and bb tucked away in purse I screamed at the bike man. I had never been out at night on my own or with chicks but my friends had insisted we ditch the men and have a ladies night out and I could hear the gods chuckling in silent mirth.
My bike guy after almost killing me twice parked behind a reversing car and the driver of the car shouted that his brakes were awry, I still haven’t perfected the art of jumping off bikes as I’m still quite a novice with this means of transportation so it was a little split-second riot of people shouting, anticipating disaster, the bike guy trying desperately to maneuver the situation and me not really sure whether to stay put or jump off, all I knew was I didn’t wanna be a statistic another time around.
When we arrived at the market my glossy lips parted in disbelief, I was snapped out of my reverie by some old woman desperate for a bike as there was no means of transport around. She almost pushed me off the bike, grinning contentedly that she’d beaten the other dozen people waiting for bikes to this one! My comrades were no where in sight and I felt lost. This was a route I passed everyday to work but I felt like Alice entering wonderland for the first time. This was rush hour, Akure style. I didn’t even know the town had this many people. There were throngs of people on the road, barely allowing the cars to pass and almost injuring themselves as they climbed on top of eachother to enter the few available not yet jam-packed cabs! There was a night market going on and women sold garri and tomatoes on the road itself, forcing cars to slow down or have mass casualties. There were area boys, area fadas and area mamas. There were hos, pimps and prophets. I didn’t wanna bring out my bb, not with the 5 or so shady looking men trying hard to act like they weren’t checking me out but I had to, my comrades were lost in translation and I was about to have a panic attack and I needed to make the call. Lagos had not prepared me for Akure at night. Finally found my friends and we fought our way through the crowd clutching our phones and purses like our lives depended on it, all in the pursuit of peppersoup! One of my comrades needed to use the atm in the market and we guarded her with the most ferocious looks we could muster, hoping we wouldn’t be robbed on the spot. The three of us, joined the hundreds of people waiting for transport and since we were going to highbrow Alagbaka, when we finally got a cab going that way, no one tried to pull our hair out in a bid to secure the seats from right under our bums!
We’d have preferred bikes cos they’d have taken us straight to Sunview hotel, the temple that housed our steaming, overpriced plates of peppersoup but the bike men were no where in sight. Maybe one of ’em threw a party!
The cab guy dropped us at the business district of Alagbaka and we almost begged him not to leave us. The place in stark contrast to Oja was a ghost-town and Sunview was about 30minutes away on foot. There was no other person for miles around, just empty offices. Guess these people didn’t joke with TGIF! As we were walking towards the only street light, I screamed as a vicious pain shot through my brain. Aaaargh! My comrades turned in fear as they saw the anguish on my face. Had I been shot? Or bitten by a snake? I looked at my throbbing foot and fighting back tears swore instead. There was some jagged metal sticking out of the curb and it had feasted on my foot. I felt some moistness in my gladiators and imagined thick red blood signing my name across the pavement, all in the pursuit of peppersoup.
I used my phone as a light source and inspected the damage, my skin hung loosely around the wound and the doctor in me found the will to rip it off. I wasn’t bleeding cos it was a shallow wound but I could see my lighter colored dermis. Trying not to dull the mood and realising if we didn’t get moving we could get robbed, I said in a cheery voice, ‘At least I won’t need an anti-tetanus injection’.
Just then we sighted a lone-ranger, a bike man!!!
We hailed him and he stopped. We told him we needed at least a second bike and he offered to take one person first and come back for the other two. It sounded like one-chance and we declined.
He seemed confused wondering why a bunch of high-class, well dressed prostitutes headed for the biggest hotel in town to make big bucks would be afraid to travel solo. He waited with us till another bike came along.
The bike guy was charging triple the fee and we sent him off in anger! He complained as he restarted his bike that what was 80 naira compared to how much we’d make tonight. While we were still absorbing the information and struggling to accept the fact that everyone who saw us on the side of the road at 8pm would think we were night-workers, a car stopped. We didn’t notice initially cos it was on the other side of the road. A guy got out from the passengers seat and came to offer us a ride to wherever we were headed. Nothing we said got through to his brain that we didn’t need his help. He probably had stopped thinking with his brain by then and glancing at the car across the road with its tinted windows I thought of the Yahoo-plus boys that had become so popular in Lagos, no man was using my breasts for juju!!!
Another bike finally arrived and we were thankful cos ignoring the car-man was becoming a burden and the first bike man’s non-stop chattering was fraying our nerves. Maybe he thought he could get lucky and score some discounted booty afterall he’d been helpful. The new bike man said a price even more bizarre and my friends and I snapped. Na by force to chop peppersoup? Haba! We told the bikemen to get lost and decided to trek to the Chicken Republic we’d passed while in the cab, afterall what if after enjoying the peppersoup we were unable to secure transport back home? None of us was ready to pay in kind.
Leg still in pain, I walked off totally ignoring car-man and he had the nerve to follow us!!! He kept talking, ‘I know you now, Simisola, why you dey front like you no know me?’. Half-way to Chicken Republic, I turned to him and in a slightly mysterious voice I said, ‘You are not even sure we are real people and you just dey waka dey follow us, I fit be winch oh!’ and turned calmly and continued walking. I looked back a minute later and he was gone! My friends and I laughed at his gullibility and inherent fear of witches as we walked into Chicken Republic and finally laid to rest all thoughts of evil peppersoup! I embraced the idea of a chickwhizz and my mouth that had been dry due to the adrenaline the evening’s adventure had stimulated, began to water. As I was opening my wallet to pay for the take-away, guess who walked in? Car-man with another man, probably the driver in tow, my mouth parted in disbelief. The driver walked up to me, stared intently into my face for a millisecond and said, ‘No be Simisola!’ and without so much as an apology they left. I was shocked. In retrospect I wonder wetin Simisola do them. ‘If you are Simisola of Alagbaka red-light district, some of your customers dey find you oooooh!’
We left the place, happy food in tow and got a cab to Oja quite easily. We felt we had escaped the fury of rejected peppersoup. But hell hath no fury as point and kill left alive! We got to Oja no more alarmed at the crowd and decided to take a cab to the junction before our house and walk the remaining 10minutes home. We found the second cab easily enough and as we relaxed almost tasting the chicken while we lounged indoors, it crossed my mind that I had promised my pastor I’d attend the night-vigil that night. I was so comfortable that I whipped out my bb and started pinging away till I heard the commotion. Cars were reversing, people were shouting, I could see a police van in the distance. Armed robbers!!! There was no other route home so the cab man stayed put and soon the cars started moving, meanwhile I’d hidden my valuables, put my bb and E71 on silent and tucked them away for safe-keeping and then held my visafone in plain sight telling my comrades that if I was gonna get robbed, that was all I was willing to part with! They found it quite amusing.
We finally got home in one-piece, I ate and promptly went to bed. I was mentally exhausted. Woke up this morning to see countless missed calls from my pastor and some other friends. I’m still looking for a suitable excuse to give pastor tomorrow morning. Should I just come clean and tell him it was all in ‘the pursuit of peppersoup?!!’
Have a great day peeps! xoxo 😉