This is a poem that journeys home along Nigerian roads.
The road home begins with a prayer,
from the woman in the backseat, the one that refuses to
give money to the beggars at the park.
The road home is long and it runs and runs
across busy towns and lonely villages,
through express routes, flyovers and
white chalk lines drawn on asphalt,
through bumps and gallops and potholes
the size of a small pond and through smoke
from the exhaust of heavy-duty lorries
with witty slogans painted on their bodies.
“If they can beg, they can work. Let them work” she says,
her frown daring anyone to disagree.
It begins with the driver’s customary trip to the
petrol station to top up the fuel tank.
Gist among the passengers commences on the state of the country,
on the ever rising price of onions and transport fares,
and the percentages of the meagre salaries being paid to civil servants.
The road home runs and runs, and the vehicle
is soon drowned by the silence of motion,
save for the purring of the engine,
occasional whooshing of overtaking cars and
the light snoring of the big man in front that paid for two seats.
The road home yawns along and is punctuated by stops
to pee and stretch cramping legs, and
by the sight of the wreckage of a gruesome accident
that happened the night before accompanied
by a chorus of sympathy for the victims.
The road home is long and swarming with policemen
that collect bribes from fuming drivers
but are glaringly absent at the bends notorious
for kidnapping and high way robberies.
When the traffic slows, the hawkers arrive with
their wares peddling bread, fried yam, boiled eggs,
cold mineral/cold pure water, Gala, African walnut,
perfumes, toothbrush, Agbo Jedi and
books on current affairs that no one reads anymore.
On the opposite lane, a hawker chases an absconding vehicle
for her balance to no avail, to the fascination of onlookers.
As the road approaches home, phone calls are made
to be picked up from the park,
and the driver is hailed for a job well done.
The road home is long,
but it starts with prayer and
ends in praise.