Or Else what!

By Favour Chiagozie Ebubechukwu
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Favour Chiagozie Ebubechukwu

"Conductor, my change." I requested. "Madam, I dey come; your place still far." he replied as he by passed me and gave people their change, whom I made payment before. My mind drifted away as we drove a long distance, stopping at intervals to drop and pick passengers. It struck my heart to demand my change again. "Conductor, give me my change." I said this time with a raised voice, my lips held firmly with my eyes signalling warning. "Madam, calm down. I never get change. I go still give you." He said annoyingly. My mind drifted again as we covered another reasonable distance. The remembrance of my change this time, hit me so hard as though a divine entity had come to remind me of the possibility of losing a treasured property. I saw a passenger making payments of fifty naira to the conductor— my exact change. I would have collected it and signaled him(the conductor) that I have, if not for the distance between my fellow passenger and me. Since I could not get it first hand, I watched the conductor, directing him with my eyes, to do the needful, but he was silly. He filed my own fifty naira change into the hundreds(#100), two hundreds(#200), five hundreds(#500) and one thousand naira(#1,000) notes he had.

"Give me my change, conductor!" I yelled. "You wan make I forget my change abi? Ogbeni gimme my change jare!" "Madam, calm... "I go change am for you now!" I interrupted his favourite speech to be 'calming down'. How many bus stops we don pass now? How many hours wey you collect my money, you no gree gimme change? You think say I dey play? You look me finish, I resemble small pikin for your eye wey you fit do wayo abi?"

"I go give you" "When!" I replied bumper-to-bumper. Passengers were getting uncomfortable. The driver urged the conductor to release my change. "Oga, if you no give me my change now, I go change am for you." my Mike Tyson mood was well awoken. Affirmations from passengers began to fly to my support, especially those who boarded before me, and at the same time I did. The conductor seemed to be explaining to them the reason why he could not release my change at the moment; saying something like, someone will alight before me, and he intended to give that person first, to avoid delay, with the hope of getting a passenger that will provide another fifty naira note. A young guy commented saying, "una never dey get change for this life". Immediately, I grabbed the conductor's faded shirt as I stood stooped in the bus. "Give me my change!" "Madam free me, I go give you." "My friend, shut up, and give me my change!"

The driver had stopped as I had the liberty to fight for my right. He(the conductor) became infuriated and said, "Madam, free me now, or else?" What? he just challenged me on my right. "Or Else what!" I screamed with strands of vein around my neck. "Or Else what! I am asking." People who boarded very recently quickly moved to another vehicle-at least a less troubled one. The conductor will not give me my change neither will I let go of my third chance of collecting it, before I am being told some stories for the gods. The driver made an effort in waving down commercial vehicles for help. I kept pushing and screaming "Or else what!" A gentle man generously presented a hundred naira note to me, to let the journey proceed. I hesitated, still gripping my offender's shirt. He(the conductor) freed himself violently from my grip. "Na God save you." I said. He began to curse. "Na fifty naira make you hold me like say I be thief. Na women like you dey kill their husbands."

"Ta, shut up!" an elderly woman cautioned, as we were already on motion. "If na you dem hold your money for this long, you no go para? Na so una dey do. You wan make she forget her change. Mtcheew" "Madam, I no talk to you o, no go put your mouth for..." "Wetin you wan do?" the woman flared. "See this man o." "Madam no put your mouth for wetin no..." "Shut up! e concern me. No be your wickedness delay me for here? If to say you give am him change since, I no for don reach where I dey go? No just try me o." The conductor attempted another reply when the same generous gentle man interrupted "It is okay, conductor. Focus on getting your passengers. You lost some already and you are still losing them. The change matter has been settled."

We complain that the world is noisy but have we asked ourselves who the architects of these noises are? The sun shines, the moon comes. The wind blows, the rain falls. The birds sing, the trees wave; despite the noise we claim distracts us from experiencing peace. The experience of peace is not primarily external but internal.

We can pay attention to the gentle, life blossoming "duduke" of our hearts' beat. We can observe the gracious and rhythmical 'exhales' and 'inhales' of our own breath. We can notice the 'blink-blink' of our eye lids; all of which happen without our conscious efforts. We can see how the trees seductively align with the air; how the eagle is skillful in soaring instead of flying. We can admire and learn from creation, our bodies inclusive; how they resonate with their core, regardless of the noise, chaos or trouble around.

We are peaceful, ecstatic, and dynamic beings. But, we must come to this realisation, OR ELSE, we will continue to wallow in distractions.