“OJU ANU”

     Kwap! Gbam! Wham-dagam! I turned at the sudden noise of collapse and destruction only to discover a short, almost one eyed ruffian uprooting an MTN sales umbrella and banging same on some large polythene bag package containing I-don’t-know-what wares and swearing hard as he did so. The scene was in front of a small wooden lotto kiosk; a recharge card retailer’s stand was by its right. In front of these was a queue up of cabs that extended to the other end of the park.
It was a sunny Wednesday morning and I was at Ojo International Motor Park, a garage-cum-market as we call it in this part of the world. I had gone to receive some money by ‘courier’ and was waiting for a particular retinue of buses on excursion as described by the courier, the fifth of which she was travelling in. I must have been waiting for about ten minutes when the noise erupted for I had gone up and down the park trying to decide which spot was best to wait at. Once I stood at a point and the whiff of cigarette smoke redirected my steps, at another point, a driver wanted to get his hitherto parked cab on the road so I had to move again. One could not exactly stand in front of the sellers for fear of being yelled at as blocking their wares or being suspected a terrorist (Boko Haram still being a threat to national security).
My phone rang, it was my courier who assured me she was less than ten minutes away.
O ya were ni, ori e buru, moto lo ma pa iya e…” the brute vituperated in Yoruba as he charged at a young girl, apparently the owner and seller of the wares, swinging the rod every which way, hitting and missing intermittently as she tried to dodge without moving away.
Oju Anu fi sile, Oju Anu…” a couple of men grappled with the man and the rod while some shouted at the visibly stubborn, I’m-on-my-right’ victim to move away. She moved a few steps and he ran after her still beating and punching her with his hands now while they gripped and grabbed him.
Oju Anu, ki lo sele?” A market woman inquired, hurrying towards them and pulling the girl to a safe distance. Oju Anu, I read the label on greasy custom made navy blue polo, he donned. Perhaps that was a nickname derived from his eye defect. It appeared from the redness and half dilation of the eye to be cataract. In this part of the world, clearly sighted, wide eyed peeps often declared their ‘eyes of mercy’ blinded in moments of anger, ‘eyes of mercy’ being a metaphor for their humanness or kindness or ability to overlook faults as it were.
Oju Anu, ro ti iya e,” another woman came pleading; she was fair, round, clothed in the usual market woman’s coat of many colours(a blouse of lace material, Ankara skirt with a velvet turban; all of different colours) as she swung her hips from side to side- to the rhythm of her pleadings? “Eyan jeje de ni iya e o … iwo na maa lo,” she barked at the victim.
The men successfully collected the rod from the irate, insult fuming Oju Anu after which everybody took up another song.
Ki lo she na? ki lo she fun e… fi sile, aburo e lo je… ki lo she…” they asked one after the other.
“E le imagine, ki iru e ma gba mi leti? Mo kan ba sere ni o,” he spread his palms in angry bewilderment, “o de gba mil leti!” He explained touching his cheek. “Emi ati e ni garage yi…he snapped his fingers threatingly. “Ki iru e ma gba mi leti? Ehn, mo kan ba sere ni o,” he repeated.
“Ah ah,” one of the women laughed and clapped her hands in a this-is-ridiculously-funny-and-I’m-short-of words manner.
Joo, ma binu, omode ni,” another plead on the girl’s behalf.
Mo kan be sere ni o, o de gba mi leti,” he reiterated angrily, “ko sa ma wa sibi mo ni o. Emi ati e ni garage yi!” he clicked his fingers- again.
Ma binu, joo, baba oko mi, ma binu,” madam rainbow patted him.
My phone rang again, “we’re almost there, my courier said, the fifth bus”.
“Okay,” I said.
The buses rolled in one after the other, big luxurious Ajimobi buses. “Aja one, gbera!” the first zoomed past. “Aja two…”
I’d in fact thought the fifth would stop and then I’d run up to the window and get my package but all I saw was some white envelope hurled in my direction and zoom! The bus was gone. I whipped it off the road in what looked- nay felt like an action movie. I felt like James Bond? No, I felt like Sherlock swapping bomb for bread under ma’am Adler’s hands- but I wasn’t exchanging anything? I looked up and waved back at some pair of different hands waving at me from the fast disappearing bus- Aja five. I smiled and turned to leave. I glanced at the lotto shop as I left, everything was back to normal.
What kind of “play” was he playing or trying to play with the young girl? I wondered as I crossed to another side of the park.
“Iwo road! Iwo road! I flagged down the cab

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