He looks into her purse as she opens it to bring out her transport fare. He sees about four thousand naira,all neatly lined up by the side of the purse.
She holds the thirty naira she has just pulled out, in her hand, and draws her shopping basket nearer to herself. The shopping basket is made of the same straw material used for mats. Inside the basket, he sees eggs, plantain, grinded pepper on the surface.
“excuse me please. Will he pass in front of UI to get to Moniya?”
It’s the last micro second before it becomes obvious he was distracted, when he catches what she said.
” yes” he croakes. He had not expected her to talk to him. This happens to him all the time; responding in unplanned situations, but responding in a voice not much distinct from that of a frog. He is self-conscious.
She still sits uncomfortably in the bus, very upright. In her defence she is apparently the only one of her social class in there.
It is a small and crowded bus plying the route of bodija market to Moniya in Ibadan.
Theirs is the last row in the bus. He sits at the extreme left, she follows and then there is a Fulani man by her right, followed by an Alhaja.
Others in the bus are significantly older and poorer.
The small phone in Ire’s pocket vibrates and makes him jerk his leg suddenly. He pulls out the phone to see it is a beep from his younger brother
“flasher of life” he mumbles under his breath and remembers he has to hurry up his activities to be in church later in the afternoon. He hisses.
“Mo ki gbo gbo yin ninu oko yii kaaro l’oruko Oluwa ”
He is stunned. It’s the UI student speaking.
” o se pataki ki onikaluku wa ye igbe aye wa wo nitori pe. .. “
Her Yoruba is faulty, that should be excuse number 1. They’re also fast approaching UI gate, excuse number 2. By reason of logic there is no reason for her to preach but then she is preaching.
When the bus gets to park in front of UI, she rushes to complete a faulty statement, then wedges her way out of the bus after paying her fare.
The Alhaja with the yellow scarf at the extreme right hisses after she leaves but Ire knows the Alhaja couldn’t have hissed while the girl was in the bus. There was something compelling about her unjustified courage that made her message worth listening to.
When Ire gets home later that morning with the items he bought at bodija market, he knows he has a motivation to go to church.
He needs what the girl with the shopping basket and purse lined with one thousand naira notes has: the shameless courage fueled by her God.