At what time does it become too late to be out?
It’s 9:33pm, and this is my third week in the capital. I left my friends at the restaurant to pick up groceries at the mall. Teni, my roommate is still at the restaurant which means, I’ll have to stop to pick her up on my way home.
Groceries didn’t take time, my taxi driver came and she couldn’t find the underground parking lot, I assumed that she didn’t want to park there, because if she wanted to, it was easy to find. I found the taxi in the main parking lot and I informed Teni that we were on our way. The first thing that caught my attention was how close the driver’s seat was to the steering wheel but I assumed that must be how she’s comfortable driving.
We stopped at about 2-3 police checkpoints and the taxi driver reacted aggressively to the policemen.
At a point, I started feeling uncomfortable. Was I being sexist? I’ve been driven a couple of times through this check points and it’s usually stress-free. I assumed she might be having a bad day.
She asked if I knew the exact place we were headed, and that’s when I mentioned there were 2 addresses.
‘I can’t go to Utako.’ She said firmly and continued, ‘It’s too late, and it’s not safe, you have to order another cab,’ she said unapologetically.
I was confused for a second, I pulled myself together quickly and asked if she didn’t realize there were two different addresses. She said she didn’t, as it was normal for the drivers not to see the address until they start the trip.
I wondered why she didn’t make her restrictions clear from the start, or check once she picks the passenger or even ask them before heading their way. Shivers embraced my heart, I understood her concerns for her safety but I guess it’s only those who live in Abuja that can explain how unsafe going from Wuse 2 to Utako could be, what about me? I’ll have to wait to call another cab this late. Is my safety not important? Everyone for thy self they say, but her lack of remorse struck my nerve.
We arrived at the restaurant and she ended the trip. I realized I had to pay her over #400 extra than if it was a single trip. I alighted and Teni was waiting for me, our friends had left a few minutes before I arrived. I had informed Teni about the situation but she had been unable to get a hold of another taxi due to bad internet connection. I narrated what happened as I gave my first bad review on Taxify, I felt a tiny bit of guilt. Regardless, isn’t that what reviews are for? I even felt 3 stars was a lot for her, but maybe my emotions were getting the best of me.
We stood at the roadside while I tried to order a cab. Teni offered to hold one grocery bag while I held on to the other bag, Teni was pointing out a Maybach S650 to me when we heard a male’s voice from behind.
‘Hello ladies’, we turned around and saw three men coming from the club beside the restaurant and heading towards us.
‘I got a taxi’, I said to Teni as we both turned away from the men, hoping that would signify our disinterest to them, but instead that seemed to be a green light. They came closer and closer until the three of them surrounded us.
‘What are you pretty ladies doing out so late, do you need a ride?’ The fair skinned one to my left questioned, as he came so close I could smell the liquor in his breath, the chain around his neck dazzled under the street light giving him the drug dealer aesthetic.
‘Or ride?’ The one in front of me emphasized as he placed his hand on his manhood and tilted forward. His denim trousers were drooping so low that I was certain it was seconds from falling off.
I was disgusted, this was starting to feel like a page torn out of a nollywood script. All I could think about was the Cab woman, so much for safety.
Goosebumps rose all over my body, yet the late night wind wasn’t chilled enough to do this. I remembered all the times I postponed buying a pepper spray, I started thinking of all the potentially harmful(or defensive) things that were in my bag. Lipstick? Files? A pen? Yet the grocery bag I carried wouldn’t make accessing my handbag fast enough.
The demons glared at us as though we were goat meat and they,lions.
Teni switched her grocery bag to her right hand as she interlocked her left arm with my right one, and she said firmly,
‘No, we don’t need a ride or anything from you.’
‘Oh oh, she’s a strong one’, the darker skin one said as he smiled and his bald head shined, he moved closer and tried to touch Teni’s hair. Teni shook her head as she slapped his hand off.
We tried to move away but we got stuck in a circle.
My phone rang and I knew it was the Cab driver, talk about perfect timing. I was about to pick up when I saw a lady heading towards us with a phone to her ear and a baseball bat on her other hand.
She signaled she was the one calling me. She wore a black joggers and a black t-shirt, she was about 167cm in height and must have been in her early 40’s and she looked fit.
‘I’m sure you heard the ladies!’ She said as she gently tapped the baseball bat on her left palm and placed the baseball bat over her right shoulder, as she moved closer to us.
Bat woman in person? Yes, please!!!
The men moved away, Teni and I ran towards her like chicks to mother hen. We noticed she didn’t turn around so Teni and I stood behind her, and used her as our human shield.
‘I didn’t hear you apologize to the ladies for being inappropriate.’ She said affirmatively.
‘She should let us go.’ Teni whispered to me, the one with his drooping trousers moved towards us as others followed him.
She moved closer to them and the fair skinned one burst into laughter as he said ‘Shey you’ll now beat us ni?’
As that statement dropped from his mouth, she swung her baseball bat and hit his knee cap.
Teni and I looked at each other in shock. He went down in pain as his friends ran to his aid, the one with the drooping trousers lost control of his trousers, revealing his spongebob boxers. Teni and I burst into laugher.
It took the rest of them seconds to realize she wasn’t playing. They apologized to us and grabbed their friend and ran like rats into their car and drove off.
Teni and I didn’t know how to thank her, we couldn’t begin to imagine what would have happened if she didn’t help us.
She told us, ‘Don’t thank me, it’s as simple as when you see something, you don’t only say something, you also do something!’
And you can be damn sure she got 5stars!
THANK YOU FOR READING!
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WRITTEN BY: MARIAM ALAYANDE
ART BY: FreeMechanism