By Ebele Erakpo
The issue of childlessness took the centre stage in this Ogba-bound commuter bus. The hornetâ€™s nest was inadvertently stirred by a woman when she rough-handled her little baby in anger because she could not find her purse to pay the fare and the bus conductor was not ready to cut her some slack. As she frantically searched her bag, fearing the worst, she angrily tossed the innocent baby aside who started crying as she couldnâ€™t fathom what she had done to deserve such hostility from someone so close to her.
â€œMadam, this is sheer wickedness. I mean, this is madness. What has the baby done? Why the transferred aggression? queried a stunned lady by name Margaret.
â€œDonâ€™t mind her. I donâ€™t blame her. It simply shows that she did not suffer to get this baby because if she did, she wouldnâ€™t be treating her like this,â€ said Bridget.
Almost immediately, the poor lady began to cry, whether it was as a result of the harsh words she has been receiving from fellow commuters or the thought of what awaits her from the usually foul-mouthed Lagos bus conductors if she failed to pay, no one could tell. Margaret, not yet done with chastising the woman said: â€œI donâ€™t really understand some women.
Millions are out there with all their wealth but no child. They are willing to go to any length to have a child of their own. But here you are, with this beautiful little baby and simply because of one miserable purse that may not even contain more than N200.00, you are treating the baby like trash. You apparently value your purse more than the baby.â€
To this Bridget replied: â€œPlease, donâ€™t kill the baby. We will pay the fare for you.â€As she made for her purse to take the N150.00 fare to give to the bus conductor, the woman found her voice as she vehemently refused the offer, probably out of pride. Somebody took the baby from her to give her enough space to search for her missing purse.
As she frantically searched her bags, turning them inside out, the bus conductor was quietly watching as a cat would watch a rat, waiting for the best time to pounce on the unsuspecting victim, all the while muttering to himself. In this case, the victim, the woman was not unsuspecting as she knew what awaited her if in the end she was not able to pay.
After a few minutes of searching without positive result, the bus conductor asked her for his money and Mr. Clement answered thus: Canâ€™t you see that her purse has been removed by these clever rogues at the bus stop? What do you expect her to do? You should pity her.â€
â€œI hear you. Why donâ€™t you pay for her? After all, that lady offered to pay for her but she rejected the offer. Please I need my money. This is not a charity organisation,â€ countered the bus conductor.
The problem in Nigeria is that there are so many rogues around, you donâ€™t know who is who anymore. It is possible she did not lose any purse but instead of quietly begging the driver and explaining her condition, she would pretend as if her purse was stolen,â€ said Yemi.
â€œHow could you say that? It is true that some people are dishonest and will tell all sorts of lies to get money but certainly, not in this particular case. She looks genuine enough,â€ said.
â€œGenuine? Of course, in this trade, you have to be very convincing to be able to dupe people. I remember sometime ago, a middle-aged man came to a popular bus stop in Lagos, shedding tears while telling a very moving story of how his only son was dying in a hospital for lack of funds.
According to him, the hospital had refused to attend to him because he could not raise the money the hospital requested and so he had to come to the streets to appeal to people to help him out.
People believed him and donated more than he asked for. The following week, he was seen at another spot, begging for money and telling the same tale. That is very rampant now.â€