Tade stared with longing at the petite lady at the front of the queue. He felt like gliding through every body sandwiched in the long line to the front where the lady stood. Lucky woman.
His muscles tightened with the strain it took to stand so long; his legs quaked in exhaustion, joining the on-going revolt in his body. The sweat that broke across his forehead, however, had nothing to do with the stress of the queue. His stomach roiled with nature’s call. The music pouring through his ear buds did very little to ease his condition. He needed to use the toilet.
He could either wait to get home, since Fedeyi wasn’t so far, or he could go on a toilet hunt, which was not a guaranteed expedition since it was getting dark and he was in unknown territory. He weighed the options in his mind as if conducting a feasibility study.
“Oga, move now!” the lady behind him barked. Tade would’ve been miffed at her tone but he had heavier issues on his mind. Besides, the queue was moving faster now as a bus pulled up and he knew he would be going with this one.
As he moved closer forward, Tade caught sight of the people in front handing a frowning man their tickets and he realized with sudden alarm that he had forgotten to purchase a ticket. In his hurry, he had just jumped into the line without getting one.
“I’m finished,” he said aloud. To get one, he had to leave the line all the way to the back. Tade groaned.
He turned to the lady behind him, briefly registering that she was incredibly short, probably a dwarf, and said in the mellowest voice he could manage:
“Sorry, can you hold the line for me? I need to get a ticket.”
“Ehn?” she asked around the gum in her mouth.
“I’m coming, I need to get a ticket,” he said, not waiting for an answer. By now, heat washed over him in waves.
He walked as fast as was humanly possible, squeezing his lanky frame through the mashed bodies. When he got to the ticket stand, there was also a long queue. All of a sudden, all his sister’s claims about omens and spells from distant relatives made sense. He should have prayed longer this morning before rushing off to work. And he shouldn’t have downed that much food at work. It was his boss’s birthday and he couldn’t resist the array of desserts beckoning on him. He didn’t see that everyday and had even stuffed extra in his bag for Tolu, his sister.
“God, please help me. This is an emergency,” he muttered under his breath.
“I don dey shout say make una hold change. You no go hear,” the lady selling the ticket was scolding an elderly man who had apparently given her a high denomination. She hissed and turned to those on the queue.”Abeg, who get hundred naira change for there?”
Tade immediately waved his hands enthusiastically, bopping up and down like a drowning man. “Me! Me! I have change!” he yelled, scuttling to the front.
He was going to find the humour in this someday. But not today.
Getting back to the bus queue was no small matter as his eyes frantically scrutinized the heads for one several inches lower. He spotted the short lady and raced for her like she was a big bowl of ice cream. His stomach protested at that thought.
“Thanks,” he muttered as he joined the queue just when the guy in front of him entered the bus.
Tade sighed as the bus began to move. He would be home in fifteen minutes at least and he mentally gave God a high-five for little mercies. He laid his head on the head rest and tried to concentrate on stalling nature.
The bus came to an abrupt stop and he raised his head. His eyes widened.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” he almost yelled as he saw the halted lights that stood ahead. There were cars jammed up all the way as far as his eyes could see.
And for the first time that evening, Tade laughed. Not a humorous laugh, but something dry and derisive.
He was finished.
P. S: This piece first appeared on Words Are Work blog.
So, ‘Forgiving God’ is on unofficial leave but decided to send this distant cousin for now to keep you company on Fiction Friday. It will be back on Sunday so look out for it then 🙂