As soon as I hit the ground, I wait in bated breath for the pain to wash over me, but I feel nothing. I nervously take a peek at my feet anxiously praying not to see it twisted beyond recognition. I breathe a sigh of relief as I see I had only tripped over a broken twig.
I get up and dust myself off then begin to laugh hysterically at myself. Certainly, to any passerby I probably looked a bit lunatic. But I couldn’t care less, because at that moment if I didn’t laugh, I’d cry, and nobody wants to see the latter.
I realized that I was so disconnected from myself and had let my anxiety takeover for a moment. I immediately take some deep breaths, pick up my duffel bag and make my way towards the bus stop. But this time a lot calmer than when I left the house.
Canadian bus stops are laughable compared to the ones in Nigeria. Don’t get me wrong, here in Canada, there is an amazing, working system; you get to the bus stop and get into the bus going to your specific location before the time allotted for the bus at the bus stop expires. However, back home, bus stops are nothing short of eventful, filled with haggling, fighting, insults and sometimes even jokes between the sticky smelling conductors and the sardine-packed passengers.
My mind took me back to the time I entered a ‘BRT’ bus and found myself right in the middle of a hilarious declaration of love. A fellow passenger had confessed her love to another person driving two lanes from us in turtle-moving traffic.
It was a funny and largely cringey experience that I will never forget. The young lady shouted and screamed her feelings from the bus, with cheers from all the passengers spurring her on. While the young man left his car, ran over to the bus and collected her number. The driver had even wanted to drive off but the other passengers went off, hurling insult upon insult on the poor old man just doing his job.
“Shey you dey craze ni?!!” (“Are you crazy?”)
“Shey oti ya werey?” (Are you mad?)
“You no sabi if na her helper be this ooo.”
But of course, no matter how old and empathetic Lagos Drivers are, they are still Lagos ‘Danfo’; they do not stop unless they get to the next bus stop. They probably wouldn’t care if someone was having an asthma attack in the back, as long as they pay their money and get to their stop.
Looking around the bus now, I see how different it is, how calm and largely uneventful the bus systems are in Canada. No conductor harassing you for transport fare, the windows are rolled up because the buses are air-conditioned, and all the passengers minding their business desperately avoiding any interactions. They are glued to their phones and disconnected from the world around them with loud music blasting through their earpieces. I begin to see how I have become like one of them, as I quietly thumped my head to Frames by Wizkid.
As soon as I get to school, I make my way to my class. Sitting through the boring lectures allow me to continue preparing myself for the tryouts later in the day, and I make sure I think positively -well, most of the time. Also, it may seem like I am a very unserious student, and you’d probably think or say to yourself, “he would probably major in a funny course like Earth Sciences” (please forgive me, I’m new here, and I mean no disrespect to any course…people).
However, do not forget that I am Nigerian, before I am a student and no matter how unserious I may be, if I am not doing one of the 5 major courses, there is no point sending me here. Nigerian parents have been tunnel visioned into thinking that a degree in these following courses would set you for life and any other is counterfeit. It is obviously not their fault of course, that was what they were taught, and love them or hate them, they actually want what’s best for you, or at least what THEY think is best for you.
When I was choosing a course, I remember my father sitting beside me making sure I do not make any mistake. I love the man, but he is very stubborn; and for some reason, I like when he’s happy with me. And so, when I chose law and he smiled at me, it made me feel happy. But now that I’m doing the work, I feel like the smile was not worth it. (By the way, the courses that would not incur the Wrath of your Nigerian parents are: Law, Medicine, Engineering, Accounting and Computer Science).
I made sure I divided my time properly between reading and my personal fitness exercises, preparing for the tryouts. Making sure that I balanced the two so well that my father would not be able to say I am failing in my ‘primary assignment’ in school.
You may ask why I reason this way, and the answer is very simple. No matter how far I go in college sports, Olympics or whatever it is called; it is not an advancement in my studies. Hence, I haven’t been able to properly socialize with my peers, mostly because people seem to steer clear of ‘serious students’ because they are apparently: ‘no fun’.
As soon as the lecturer begins to leave, I start packing hoping to get to the locker room early so that I can have time to prepare, mentally and physically, but mostly mentally. I look down to pick up my duffel bag only to see a pair of feet standing right beside it.
Wait what? I think someone seems to be talking to me. But wait, I don’t know anyone here, It’s probably not me then.
“Hey you’re the Nigerian boy, right?”
Shit, it’s me.
I look up, and I am nothing short of shell shocked. And at that moment, I am rendered speechless.