A romantic short story on a love affair between
a Nigerian bus
stop tout and an Arab street girl beggar in the
city of Lagos
seven years ago. The events in this story
happened in 1998, in
the city of Lagos in Nigeria.

The sun is going westward. The climate is
Peripatetic Hadiyat is with her family in the
midst of the other
families of itinerant Arab street beggars under
the flyover in
front of the National Stadium in Lagos. There
are several yellow
minibuses and some motorbikes used for public
at the bus stop with the drivers, conductors and
the menacing
touts disliked by everybody, except themselves
and their
employers. And they are there, because of the
commuters that cannot avoid coming to the
bus stop, because it
is a central place for public transport. There are
so many
commuters thronging the bus stop by the main
gate of the
stadium. Some of the commuters are sports
enthusiasts who
come to practice their respective sports at the
stadium, white
collar and blue-collar workers and traders.
Many of the petty
traders have found enough space under the
flyover to sell their
goods. These commuters are the targets of
these Arab beggars
and looking at their cheerful faces, they seem to
be happy with
the commuters who have been kind and
generous to them. As
one can see the beggars accosting the
commuters at the bus
stop, those inside the buses and those outside
the buses and
also going to accost the people in cars and
other vehicles on the
road as they slow down on getting to the bus
stop or as the
traffic wardens stop them at the junction of the
stadium. They
all make a colourful scene.
Hadiyat is the most attractive of all the young
teenage Arab
daughters of the beggars and there are only
few of them. And
she is the oldest at 15 with the physical
features of a nubile
maiden. The touts are often teasing, taunting
and harassing
these attractive Arab girl-beggars and have
become a public
nuisance and menace to their parents and
others. Their parents
have always reported them to the local
authorities. But, the
touts have been threatening to expel the Arab
beggars from the
bus stop, because they are illegal immigrants
who should have
been deported long ago. This fact has made the
Arab beggars to
curry the favours of the touts and local
authorities until they will
leave for their own countries. Most of them are
from the
republics of Chad and Niger.

Sule is one of the leaders of the gangs of touts
at the bus stop
and motor park under the flyover and he lusts
after Hadiyat. He
is always teasing and taunting her to tickle her
fancy and her
parents frown at his overtures toward their
beloved daughter
and they always scold her to beware of him
and to avoid him
like a plague. But, she has a natural affection
for Sule, because
he is such a funny gangling young man who
seems fearless as
she sees him cursing, swearing and threatening
the bus drivers
and conductors. And he is always giving her
money everyday.
He even tells her to save the money and he
really tickles her
Sule is smoking a cigarette and teasing Hadiyat
in his mother
tongue, the Yoruba language spoken by the
Yorubas and
millions of those in Lagos and the rest of the
localities of
Western Nigeria. Hadiyat giggles as she goes to
accost some
cars slowing down at the bus stop and Sule
goes to confront the
drivers and conductors of the buses stopping at
the bus stop to
extort illegal fees and levies from them. He is a
public menace
and nuisance tolerated by all the bus drivers
and conductors for
his rough and tough character. He is
threatening an elderly bus
driver he calls Baba Mushin.
“Baba Mushin, where is your money? Wazo!
Oya, answer me!
Give me the money!” Sule barks at him in the
Yoruba language.
“I will give you when I come back. We have just
got the bus
released from the police station,” Baba Mushin
says plaintively.
“That’s a big lie! Give me the money or you will
not carry any
passenger here today. Wazo. Oya! Quick! Don’t
waste my time,”
Sule yells, contorting his face to frighten the
elderly man who
could be as old as his father.
“Sule, please. I say I will pay the fee when I
return from Mushin.
I promise,” he pleads.
“That’s rubbish!” Sule shouts curtly.
Sule goes to stand in front of Baba Mushin’s
bus and blocks his
way with threats of dealing with him. Then, he
tries to damage
the wiper. Baba Mushin yells at him. The other
fellow touts
come to rally round Sule and on seeing the
ruthless dispositions
of Sule and his gang, Baba Mushin tells his bus
conductor to
give Sule the money. The sum of 50 Naira
popularly called
“Wazo” by the touts, “danfo” drivers and
conductors in Lagos.
“God has saved you today! If you did not pay, I
would have
destroyed your wiper and there is nothing you
will do. Try any
rubbish and we will report you to Chairman and
that is the end
for you in Surulere,” Sule says and snarls.
Baba Mushin curses and hisses.
“C’mon! Get out of the way and let me go!
Sule and his gang give way and the elderly
looking driver drives
away. And Sule turns his attention to the next
buses stopping at
the bus stop.

To Be Continued…


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