Bravery or Foolishness, Episode 2.

I think I was in 200 level then. My sister and I were returning home for a break. We took a bus just in front of the UNIBEN gate and after waiting for a long time, the bus eventually filled up.
It came as a familiar surprise when the man who had been standing with us and collecting the fares moved away from the car and handed the money over to a ‘new man’ called ‘Owewe’. Owewe was a tall man, very tall; with a long face that make you pity him when he smiles. He wore a native lace clothing which stank so much of alcohol that I began to wonder if he was indeed our driver or just a palm wine tapper.
In few minutes, he kicked the engine into life and ran off from the park with so much speed that the women had to shout, grabbing their head gears as they warned him to reduce the speed or drop them. Few women mentioned their children whom they still hoped to reap some ‘fruits’ from. Since I didn’t have any child yet, I sat beside the bus window and smiled, enjoying the drama.
Owewe, our eccentric driver laughed them off and reduced his speed as he branched away from the road into a filling station. I never got the chance to ask him why bus drivers always do that- buy fuel only when the journey had started.
Anyway, we were soon back on the road and everything was alright.
As is my custom even till now, I laid my head on the top of the backrest of the seat before me as I settled down to sleep. I have always hated traveling and as a rule, I always make sure I sleep through my travels; to while away hours.
On days before I travel, I watch movies, read novels or browse late into the night so that enough sleep will gather in my eyes and it won’t be a problem plunging me into deep sleep on the road. This day was no exception.
I was fast asleep when the sound of a collision brought me back to reality. Next I saw, a man was lying on the express road, a woman was limping away, the passengers in our bus were shouting and my sister, Victoria was afraid.
This is what happened.
An okada man, carrying a woman and a pack of fresh firewood, tried to overtake our bus. But before he overtook us, Owewe swerved the car, nudging the motorcycle to a fall.
Now, when this happened, our car was on high speed and could not stop immediately. Owewe kept moving the bus with the passengers shouting for him to stop the bus. I, and some other passengers, looked back and saw the motorcycle rider lying on the ground and the woman limping away from the mess.
Owewe kept moving the bus, and I can’t say if he had the mind to stop or wanted to make a run for it. But the passengers would have none of that. We kept shouting for him to stop but before we knew it, everywhere was in chaos.
Some men came at the bus with great speed, bearing sticks and stones.
They began pummeling the bus, even with us still inside. At this moment, even Jet Li will fear for his life. Victoria was visibly shaken and I had to play the role of a man, expertly hiding my own fear as I hurried her to come off the bus.
Owewe was dragged from the driver seat and before he could sing ‘Felix Navidad’, a blow landed on his cheek; another on his clean-shaven head. When I was sure Victoria had alighted, I jumped off the bus too and stood at a safe distance away from the bus.
Next I saw, Owewe was being dragged off with all his protests and explanations falling on deaf ears and his tearless cries having no effect on the angry mob.
Something you must know about me. I can bear beating and cheating for myself but when I see another man being cheated or wrongfully judged, it is nearly impossible for me to turn a blind eye. It has been so for me since I was a kid.
So, standing at that distance, with Victoria worrying about how we will make the journey home, I felt no peace. Hot anger welled up within me, mixed with pity for a man being given jungle justice. When I could no longer bear it, I told Vic about how it was unfair for all the passengers to keep mute. By now, some persons had already left with another vehicle. Though Vic pleaded for me to stay behind lest I am beaten, I didn’t heed her pleas.
I ran to the crime scene where a lot of people were now gathered. I heard someone whisper that the rider died eventually though the woman was only bruised. As I was still looking for Owewe, I saw a man addressing the mob and narrating the story. As soon as he mentioned that the driver hit the motorcycle at high speed and was trying to escape, I spoke up.
They were speaking Yoruba and it made it even more easy for me.
So I interrupted the man.
I told the people that I was there, seated in the bus when it happened. I told them that it was the motorcycle that was trying to overtake us and that Owewe would have eventually stopped on his own.
Immediately I said this, about five men, far older than me, came at me, threatening to beat me up. They then went ahead to accuse me of being one of the passengers who told the driver not to stop. My own anger was increased and I answered them back. I told their leader, who should be older than my dad,
‘So if I were your son, this is how you will threaten to beat me for speaking?’.
He left me then, maybe he was ashamed, I don’t care.
They returned to their false accusations and I faded into the background.
A man then drew me to a corner and told me to leave lest they transfer their aggression to me.
I breathed out my anger, shook my head and left the scene; I have satisfied my conscience. I returned to where Vic was waiting for me agitated and we boarded another vehicle home.
When I told my parents the story, my mother became afraid and almost with tears, warned me never to interfere in such matted again. But my father thought I did the right thing and I could see it in eyes that he was proud.
Bravery or Foolishness
Episode 2.
PS- On my return journey to school, I saw Owewe, hale and hearty and back in the park with his bus and faded lace clothing.


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