ONCE UPON A “MOLUE”.
By Nick Benson-Osagiede.
Before the advent of Fashola and BRT buses, before the arrival of “oye pumping” , AC tight Taxi’s, even before the coming of age of dare devil Okada riders, and the formula 1 danfo drivers, there was only one sure means of long distance transportation…MOLUE !
Called 911 by some, a typical “on point” description of them is the “49 sitting, 99 standing “, in which people are sitted or standing fused together like sardines! Looking like a one storied building on wheels, These Vehicles of mass transportation for the like ME’s, is our only hope, our transportational sanctuary. With its blaring horns fit to rival a ship, a roaring engine that never goes off except when its dead and clouds of smoke billowing, the molue is a road bully. The MOLUE bus, gradually becoming extinct has sure served the Lagosian masses well. The economically disempowered and functionally derelict buses are also a one stop shop for anything you need …just name it, foodstuffs, medicine, consultancy services, Phone and laptop repairs, anything you so desire is available on the ride. Travelling at a very high speed, the MOLUE is a non-stopping, hop-entering, brake- failing, haven for Preachers, Motivational speakers and petty thieves. Yup the Molue bus was once the in-thing and believe me, most rides were fun but one particular journey ended my romance with Molue.
Going to Obalende from Oshodi in those pre BRT days was either through the small “danfo “ buses which were more expensive or through a taxi which for me was like taking paracetamol to cure malaria hereby making the MOLUE option the most viable. The constant struggle to board the bus which rarely stops to pick up passengers ( ‘cos most times there is no kick starter and applying the brakes could result in engine dysfunction) coupled with the harassments by conductors, hawkers and beggars @times makes the journey in a molue tortuous and annoying but once you get the working mechanism, you’d adjust manageably.
On this particular Tuesday, I had to go see my Dad on the Island and after waiting for minutes with no small danfo bus in sight, I decided to take the molue. You know, “body fone me” as I had a premonition that this molue ride may be somehow but to disregard the pessimism, I jumped in and gave GOD total control of the day. As usual, the molue was at its peak with all the seats occupied. Breathing was hectic with the amount of bodies and body odours in the bus and rheumatism was in the air. Doing a quick math on the time I would spend on the journey standing, plus the usual third mainland bridge traffic, all things being equal, I would be standing in the crowded bus for 1hr 45 mins! As I mused over this, a miracle happened. A man decided at the last minute to alight the bus giving, me an opportunity to sit. Now, a typical Molue bus has 2rows, a 2 sitter and a 3sitter. I was seated in one of the 2sitter’s with a gentle young man carrying a bag. The noise in this particular molue gradually reduced and believe me, for the very first time in my molue years, there was silence save some little murmurs and the roaring of the engines. I thanked my luck for this and relaxed to at least enjoy the ride.
Without prior notice, my relief was cut short when my gentle young man cleared his throat and stood to greet the people’s assembly. I was flabbergasted! I was so angry because the space was so small that I had to sit up ramrod, with my knees up to my face! With him standing, it simply meant there was going to be much contact between me and him.
“Good morning, brothers and sisters. Before I tell you what I have today, let us commit this bus and the driver into GOD hands”, he said. Ok, am not an atheist however, the dude did get me angry but all the same, I muttered a silent AMEN and hoped for the best.
Just when I though I got the man figured out, he produced another shocker: HE was a medicine man! He started advertising a strange, crudely packaged “tingy“ which he professed can cure syphilis, gonorrhea and all venral disease. Everyone in the bus was disgusted by the vulgarity of the guy’s adverts and words that they paid him no attention but “as man must wack”, he stormed on.
“OKITIMAKO Herbal Drug go comot all the yamayama disease wey dey your body”. 15minutes went by, and with no one asking for his drug, he became desperate and his determination to at least have a sale improved. Now, I told you how tight a molue is and with the dude stand and talking, I had to dodge the spittle from his mouth every time he spoke and as he does that frequently, he steps on my foot. I mean, y’all know how painful that can be especially if it’s a “kor-shoe” or “boogy boogy” that is stepping on you.
“Gonorrhea is a silent killer. Syphilis they kill pesin. Don’t die in shame! “. As the dude has almost obliterated my feet with his constant stepping-on- it, I couldn’t take it anymore and decided to call his attention, to tell him to adjust. I nudged him and as he bent towards me, I quickly told him that he has been stepping on me and he should please, stop it, Simple. He apologized briefly and what he did next gave me an instant heart attack!
He made for his bag filled with the “OKITIMAKO Drug”, took out a very sinister looking one and said, out loud, “GOD bless you my brother (referring to me). I really like your courage, e no good to die in shame! ”.He continued, “Most of una wey dey for this motor no wan talk that na why dirty full una body. This brother know wetin dey worry am and for only 100 naira, he don…. The whole bus of almost 100plus erupted in uncontrollable laughter! All eyes were on me, the young innocent brother who “codedly” purchased a gonorrhea drug! The idiot couldn’t even look at me, happy that he at least got attention for his product. I felt like jumping into the 3rd mainland bridge. Interestingly, after the madman maneuvered my complaints into a marketing strategy, he ended up amidst laughter in the bus selling about 11 of his product while I was the brand ambassador.
As the laughter subsided, I challenged him for abusing my good intentions and apologizing fervently, he told the assembly to please forgive him that he has wronged me. Everyone still took it funny but knowing there was nothing I could do redeem my image, I just shut up and wondered why it just had to be me.
As fate would have we had only reached Adeniji Bustop and there was no way i could even come down. When we eventually got to the last bus stop, the passengers one by one looked at me sorrily and gave me a pat on the back, telling me to take heart. Chai, i felt madly embarrassed but what to do? who to vex for?
Since that day, Molue lost one of its faithful patronizer, Me.
By Nick Benson-Osagiede.
Follow on twitter @nykelodeon