As I limp on one leg into the VIP bus, I bump into a colleague who was travelling to Kumasi. Though I was the last passenger, I was given the number one seat and this colleague had the number two seat. As I sat awkwardly beside him, I took my phone and began to browse. I had nothing to say to him though he was in a good mood, he also had nothing to say to me. So I pretended to sleep on the bus. When we reached Kintampo, he asked that I went with him to look for something to eat. Feeling determined that I will waste no money on food or anything on this trip, I declined although he insisted. I knew he would pay for my expenses, but I thought that will make it more awkward. He left finally. As I was about to stretch a little in the car, the mate calls:
“Fine sister, it seems you are not going anywhere. Can you please watch this car for us? I mean look from head to toe before anyone enters.”
Seeing that I looked bewilded, he added:
“I am asking this because there are many thieves here.”
I pull my hand bag close to me and he laughs and leaves. I tried looking the hair to toe of passengers who entered the car, but tried as I did, no words came out even if I wanted to ask them if they were passengers or not. This was because; I did not know all the passengers. The car also had two exits and so those I laid no eyes on could still enter through the front. I realized the assignment given me by my master the mate could not be carried out. So I stretched my legs and closed my eyes.
A woman who sat by me suddenly decided to let her mouth loose, telling me about her many travelling escapades and stressed her intention of getting down in Techiman to pass the night because of tiredness though she paid an Accra fare. To this I had nothing to say, I just smiled and closed my eyes.
Ten minutes later, my seat mate came with roasted goat meat and a big paper juice. What I wanted to avoid happened. I did not know what to say. I asked him why he bought me something when I specifically told him I wanted nothing. But I saw that the young man was only trying to be polite and so I needed not be hard on him. I thanked him and he told me to continue stretching my legs as he was going to sit behind me until the seat owners arrived. This I did. When we finally took off, he chewed his meat and drank his juice. Though I wanted to drink some, I decided against it because I lacked the appetite.
We were not lucky, the border was closed by the time we reached Kintampo. So we were made to wait for over two hours before it was opened. When we reached Kumasi, My colleague alighted and bid me farewell on my journey. I was a bit anxious. This was a journey I could not fail to attend. My mother who took care of me, helped me straighten up in life was getting engaged in her late thirties. I knew it meant the world to her, being married. So I just had to be there to lend my support.
So even being knocked down by a motor bike could not be an excuse to stay back. I was grateful for being alone in the bus though I hated the air-conditioned bus. The scent of the many people and the closure of all windows and doors made the air in the vehicle nauseous. Being a petit lady, I was able to curl up in the two seats and slept.
When I woke up, we were almost in Accra. Many were grumbling about the bad road, others were cursing at the government for embezzling and not taking his work seriously, others just wanted to urinate. I joined the men who wanted to urinate and entered the bush. Some looked on shocked. I looked back sympathetically saying in my head, I know we will never meet again. So I will not have my bowels burst because of you. When we reached Accra, I got down at the Ofankor Barrier and went to my mother’s house. I was warmly received but everyone realized that I was limping. They were worried because they knew I was not a good patient. I hate taking any form of medication.
I told them it was not serious, which they knew were lies because I wouldn’t be limping if that were true. I helped in packaging the snacks until the people started to arrive, I then changed my clothes but one woman who was helping us suddenly said she wanted to leave because she had no clothes to wear. I decided to give her my little sister’s clothes she brought to me since I could not wear it anyway, so she would give it back later and lend her support. The ceremony was beautiful, many people thronged to the place but many servers were found. They took the parcels and gave more than four to some individuals while others had none. One woman collected and asked for her husband and brothers’ parcels though they did not attend. I looked on not knowing what will be the right thing to say.
My mother came around fuming as to where the many parcels were that many people were complaining having nothing. Her friend just told her what was happening and I just nodded. I do not know what happened later but many people were angry and many others left. My uncles were glad to see me and I was also glad to see them. When everything ended, we were glad. It was such a beautiful ceremony. But I could not stand the pain I was feeling in my right leg. So I was molested to take some painkillers and found myself waking up in the evening. I asked for my little sister’s clothes but the woman had gone with it. Many people called her to bring it and she promised to bring it the next day.
At about 6:30 pm, the lights went off, so I had to drift back to sleep again only to wake up at 4:000am to see the lights back on. I woke up and took my bath and made some calls to get some people to come for their monies with me. We tidied up the house and I told them I had to go back to tamale before Monday because I did not ask for permission. One of my mother’s friends who lived at Kumasi asked that I go with her because she had a free ride to Kumasi. Still, the woman failed to pick her calls and will not return my sister’s clothe, so I forgot about her. At 2:30pm, we bid the household goodbye after I asked my grandmother to bless me, which she gladly did.
I was impressed our ride was filled with lecturers heading back to their campuses after some conference in Accra. I sat and immediately, I was fascinated at the faces I was seeing. Those of lecturers’ I knew who knew me not. A particular one was a loud mouthed lecturer who everyone feared, a woman who was called Dr. Azuma. She looked fabulous and not a day older than forty. I remembered her because she always made noise in the exams hall and she gave fill ins as her exams. A very dear fried offered her course so I knew her very well.
I grumbled my thoughts on her aggressive attitude and engaged in a conversation with one of the lecturers. I mentioned that they should take their time in assessing students as thoughts of students counted more than chewing and pouring. To this, the man laughed and said yes, but in some cases, chewing and pouring mattered. As we embarked on the journey, he had a call and spoke at length about some students who think lecturers do not mark their scripts.
I told him bluntly that yes, most lecturers do not mark their scripts. I told them that I knew a lecturer who gave me the same marks I had from first to last year no matter what I wrote. He and others got on the defensive but I stood my grounds and the lecturer ended up saying he would never wish for a student like me; a student who tested lecturers to see if they mark their scripts or not. To this, they all laughed.
From where I sat, I could hear Dr. Azuma’s shrilled voice telling her colleagues of an incident where a student stole her purse and she threatened talking to her gods for the culprit to die. According to her, the students were so afraid that they brought their parents to come and plead on their behalf as the students found ways of bringing back her purse. She was so amused that tertiary students could believe in such gibberish, that even I had to laugh. I reckoned this was pure psychology at play. The conversation geared towards policemen arresting vehicles and the lecturers get defensive as to how horrifying it is that people like “Lil Win”; a local comedian, are widely known when most lecturers are not known. To this many of them agreed and laughed. One lecturer mentioned that some policemen stop vehicles under false pretenses just to get some tip of some sort. So he hung a suit in his car and arranged many books at the back of his car for the policemen to know that he knows books so must not be bothered. I was amused. Lecturers who want to be known certainly must do something extraordinary. If you are an engineering lecturer who has never put together a child’s “abungele” lorry, how do you become famous?
The conversation moved on to the economy and they said that the “dumsↄ” has turned into “dumdum”. Most of them laughed when one said that the president thought he could handle this position when he had no clue as to how it could be managed. When we were close to Kumasi, someone called one of them and said that there was lights out in Kumasi. Everyone called to verified and the catch question “How is your Mahama status?” was formed. Meaning do you have light in your area or not? The lecturer who sat close to me asked what I did for a living. I told him I was a teacher and told him the number of classes I handled. He was impressed but said he would look for my question papers every term since I criticized his people so much. I laughed and got down in Kumasi to continue my journey up north.
When I got down, a long journey driver offered me a lift to the OA station for a bus to wherever. There were no buses climbing northward, so I took a taxi to the Aboabo station. It was drizzling so badly. The driver played around getting a wife out of his passenger and I laughed at his bad attempt at realizing his goal. Immediately I got down at Aboabo, a nice gentlemen held my hands and led me to the front seat of a Benz bus. I did not know what to do or say. I asked him where he thought I was going to and he said he knew I was going to Tamale and needed someone who could talk to him on the way so he would not sleep. He reckoned I was just the person. He begged that I travelled with him. Looking at the bus and the six hour drive, I thought, what could happen? And let it go.
Some girls who looked like “Kaya yei” sat on the seat behind me. There were a few women in the car and a few other men. They made so much noise I could not breathe. The driver made many calls while driving that I did not know what to tell him. On his eight call, I tried engaging in the conversation he so wanted and asked him about his experiences with policemen. He said they were as corrupt as ever, taking two cedis every time. I then asked him about the corrupt drivers and said:
“Most drivers will not do the right thing. They drink and drive, they over speed, they do wrong overtakings, they receive calls when they are driving thereby ending up in killing many people. What are the corrupt police to do?”
He immediately put away his phones and concentrated on the driving apologizing in the process. I decided to sleep because I was not in the mood to engage in needless talks. So I closed my eyes and sat there, hearing everything going on around me and seeing with my brain. The driver chewed chewing stick so noisily, he put that somewhere and took to chewing gum noisily and still I pretended to sleep. We ended up stuck at the border. For two hours our vehicle stood still. People who sold mangoes with children strapped on their backs shouted loudly for passengers to buy their mangoes. Many other hawkers were seen parading around our car shouting loudly in advertisim. The boarder was opened around 3am and we had a quiet journey until we reached Tamale, slowing down only when animals decided to organize their beauty pageant while crossing the busy road. We reached at around 6am and the driver who was glad that I had opened my eyes asked if I would be able to sleep during the day since I slept throughout the journey. I just smiled and got down, grateful to have arrived in one piece, boarded a taxi and came straight to my house.
Amoafowaa Sefa Cecilia © 2/06/2014.