As I boarded the bus to return to Ilorin I noticed an infant sitting next to her mother on the back seat. She was looking at me with a mixture of amazement and curiosity but mostly fear - the daughter, that is, not the mother! I sat on the row in front awaiting the next scene in the unfolding drama which will be when she starts screaming - the daughter, not the mother! Already she was clinging on and a comforting arm was placed round her - the mother's, not the daughter's! When I rashly turned ruond and said "Ekaasan!" as I do regularly on buses, those gorgeous brown eyes grew wider and a bit wilder - the daughter's, that is, not the mother - though possibly both - or rather, all four!
Anyway, I did what I often do in such circumstances to deflect a possible shrieking episode that might last the entire journey unless I am asked to leave the vehicle, I took a monkey bean-bag out of my rucksack and started playing with it, making it wave and nod to the little girl, peeping from behind the seat - the monkey , that is. I thought for a moment I had made a grave error of judgement as she shrieked loud enough to burst the already severely cracked windscreen. The driver was not amused - possibly woken from his slumbers or maybe having had his concentration diverted from the pot-holes, ruts,stray goats and police convoys that could materialise at any moment. Then I realised she was shrieking with laughter as she bounced up and down in her seat and watched the antics of the monkey from the safety of her mother's embrace. Her laughter was infectious and soon the whole bus was grinning and laughing with her. It made for a fun trip back.
I wonder if monkey would have a similar effect on the shop women of Yoruba Road who only crack a smile once you have coughed up a greater than expected sum for a kilo of beans or a half empty pot of custard powder; or the little boy who has been terrified of me for months - ever since I entered his mother's shop and, to the amusement of the rest of the family, told her son I had come in to buy him!
Big day tomorrow - I'm paying a return visit to the barber of sabo-Oke - reckless or what! So if this is my last blog, you'll know why!!