“Good morning my dear brothers and sisters” the voice boomed and she thought, here we go again! Just what I need to worsen an already bad morning. She stared stoically at the windscreen and noted the Tyndall effect the early morning motions of passersby were creating on the glass.
The day had started uneventfully and promised to be like every other day, one huge yawn. The peal of the alarm coinciding with the cock crow were predictable and although she had been awake for about thirty minutes before that, she awaited the twin sounds with dread. The cheerful chant of the alarm went;
Life is nothing; is a nothing
Life is nothing but a slap in the face
Life is nothing; is nothing
Life is nothing but a fat rat race
It never failed to elicit a groan, accompanied by a grudging smile. Such an upbeat way to begin a day that guaranteed tedium-it was incongruous, if apt. Morning ritual-coffee, exercise, bath, grooming- out of the way, she would rush off to catch the bus at six.
Down at the office, she would sit to her desk writing endless reports, proposals, tracking projects, and the occasional deviation-her boss calling an impromptu meeting where the woman would indulge in a menopausic rant. That out of the way, she would return to her cubicle, trawl the net like a little blood sucking vampire until lunch time. Then the hours pass until closing time at five. Like clockwork.
Not so today. Everything followed the usual pattern until the bitchboss swung laser-like eyes in her direction and ordered an on-site inspection of one of their projects. . In this job, you admitted with pride that you had no life outside of work or you were considered “not committed to our vision”, whatever that was. So here she was in the front seat of an eighteen-seater bus, sandwiched between the driver and a beefy, sweaty man, and headed to Ekiti state, five hours away.
She leaned back in the seat and prepared to indulge in her favorite daydream-the one where she chucks her resignation at the HR and smirks “I quit”. And now this annoying bus preacher wouldn’t even allow her this small pleasure. Usually, she would ram headphones in her ears and decline to undergo the torture but today, she decided what the hell and paid attention.
“…and you young man, you take your lover to the church. The pastor is preaching and you turn and give her a little kiss…” and she choked on a laugh. Not only from the words but from the cadence of his speech. She guessed he was Igbo-his words had long drawn out Rs that sounded like grrr running through them and when he said “little kiss”, it came out sounding like littu kees and the whole effect was comical.
She thought it was a good thing that she could laugh, considering the fact that she adjudged these bus preachers terrible invaders of personal space and was always mystified at the people who sat through it, wishing she could read their minds, hear what they really thought. Unfortunately, she always seemed like the only one harboring dark musings, at least judging by the serene accepting and entranced expressions on the faces of the usually captive audience. She allowed the drone of his voice wash over her like murky water and hoped it would end soon.
No such reprieve. In the next instance, the preacher picked up his phone and placed a call and in the same grating voice with which he had invaded and assaulted their collective tympani, he launched into what seemed like a monologue and she wondered how he caught a breath or how the unfortunate recipient of the call was able to put in a word at all, or if he or she knew they were unwitting thespians in this one-man show.
First he berated his listener ‘did I not tell you she would have a baby? I told you, all she needed was to come to me and as a servant and an anointed man of the most high…” and he went on from there to conscript the poor fellow to join something called “the royal guardians of the Lord’s victorious army’. Then he got ridiculous “yes, yes, the Lord is doing marvelous things through our brother Yakubu Gowon who died and went to heaven and hell and came back filled with glorious revelations…”
At this point she could no longer resist the urge and spun on her seat to look square at this man. He eyed her back boldly. She registered a baby-smooth face with thick lips and bald eyebrows. Just as the words she would speak formed on her lips, the phone he held against his ear speaking into rang.