April 6, 2019
You want to be on the 7 o’ clock train to Kaduna. So you shower and dress up before dawn prayers. Straight out of the mosque, you call Bolt and leave Asokoro before 6 o’ clock. The earliest time you’ve ever set out for the train station. Bolt. Why Bolt? Why change such a unique name Taxify to Bolt? Glo Bolt. Usain Bolt. Bolt coin. Bolt crypto.
Just before Police HQ, driver begs to refuel. You say No, you don’t want to miss the train. You lecture him: anyone who calls you before 6 must be in a hurry. You must be ready. You lecture on: your car is a Toyota, you can make it. Please.
The area around Eagle’s Square has transformed into a vast rubbish dump overnight. What happened: some political rally, jamboree or national convention? A common scene when common people from the 36 states come to the capital for open-air meetings at the square. But what is the occasion this time around?
At the National Mosque, you see many vehicles around. Some Mauloud celebrations? You remember friends complaining bitterly on Facebook about the gridlocks all over Kano yesterday. Here, there are so many people who apparently have spent the night out in the open. So much refuse too: water sachets, chewed sugarcane, all sorts of waste. Who would clean up? Couldn’t they have anticipated this and come with trash cans? I better not see these things when I come back tomorrow. Ehen.
You check the family WhatsApp group and find a wordplay challenge a cousin had posted the previous day. You gleefully latch on to it. Sweet nerdy stuff. A cousin even awards you an ace.
You get to the station at 6:30. There is an unprecedented snaking queue of people waiting to buy tickets. The fear of kidnappers! You find out that they have not even started selling tickets. How can they finish selling tickets in time for the train to leave? Ah, stupid. As usual, they have already sold the tickets to people who will not join the queue. Naija.
As you stand naïvely on the slowly moving queue, people keep streaming in going straight into the station. Those are the decently dressed, respectable crooks. After a while, you hear the tickets are sold out. Some people on the queue manage to buy tickets to stand for the more than two-hour journey.
It’s seven o’ clock and you are still on the queue. 7:05 the train signals to leave. Train departs.
Next train departs at 9:50. No choice but to wait.
The sun hasn’t warmed up yet. It’s cool and breezy. A relief from the baking heat of yesterday.
Why waste the nice weather? You pick up your phone and type out the morning’s experience.