My Cab Man

The cab driver wiped his face with a dirty grey handkerchief, he dabbed his forehead occasionally which housed tired brown eyes, his hairline had obviously seen better days, he was in his mid thirties, maybe forty, his hair would confuse you, planted grey strands in a dark bush, probably from aging or maybe from the troubles of feeding many wives with his meagre earnings, you could never tell with the men in this country. All his features gave him a tired disposition, all apart from his eyes, they had a twinkle like they were trying to convince him that he still had a soul. “Good day madam” he said in a surprisingly loud jolly voice, “good afternoon” I replied, somewhat irritated, these days I was always irritable, pregnant women are like that, I rubbed my stomach wishfully. My marriage had lasted barely a year with none of the many joys promised to me in my bible, God is faithful, He would not fail me. I wore around my ears the promise of many preachers like jewelry but that was all, the joy never found its way to my heart. I spent my days inspecting my various boutiques in Wuse, paid for by my husband, this job which rendered useless my four years in university of Lagos and second class upper degree, the other job I had prepared for all my life was however being utilized, as a child mother would make me boil the palm kernels for the soup, and sort the laundry before washing, “I’m training you to be the best wife in the world, you would marry a good man, you would not suffer like me” she would repeat these prayers occasionally, when the soup tasted well, when I cleaned the house on time, she was wrong. For the last 6 months, I would leave my house every morning to supervise each boutique, making sure the latest styles of ankaras, damask, laces and adire were available. There was already a manager for that, but i didn’t care I had to leave my home everyday, I had to reassure myself that I had some purpose, some responsibility, that I was still relevant. The Cab man was humming a familiar tune now, a deep melody close to home, he would tap the steering wheel and whistle occasionally till he broke into a song albeit in a low tune, his passion could no longer be contained my humming, in his deep voice the song told a folklore from Iye in my local dialect, a more complicated Yoruba I had never bothered to learn, my grandmother hummed this same song during power failures as a child. We would sit in the hot parlor, while I was shirtless and lying on the floor, she went on about the Aderibu, the patient bastard of the king who later came into good fortune, the lesson was in the chorus that good things come to those who wait, she would sing first in her dialect then in half Yoruba, then half as much English as she could manage, she would tell this same story many evenings and to many more grandchildren, perhaps she was telling it somewhere in Iye, right now. “Ah! My sistah, you know the song” the Cabman exclaimed, I didn’t realize I had been singing I managed a weak smile “you know” he continued “that song does not lie, I am a joyful man, I love where God placed me” he continued singing this time louder and with more confidence, “God placed me here, I am not worthy to even breathe, God is faithful” he sang even his words now, this somewhat amused me “you love this job” I asked at last. “Sistah, God is not done with me” the twinkle in his eyes was unmistakable now. Such a peculiar Cab man I thought to myself though acceptance of poverty as Gods divine plan was not strange in my country, I wondered if I would ever come to swallow this doctrine, become dead to the world like pastor Jimoh said, maybe then I wouldn’t detest my husband as much and stop wincing when he laid on top of me heaving heavily, he was a selfish lover and I would close my eyes trying to imagine someone else, my ex-boyfriend maybe, anything to help me drift away, not forgetting to suck my breath when he shook violently, he had to be satisfied. He was the typical elite in his early forties obsessed with the various stories of how he made everything from nothing, surrounded by lesser men, mouth full of praises, heart full of want and an ego too fragile to be corrected. He said he loved me, I need not believe him, it didn’t matter, all I was expected to do was show up at occasions spending his money wearing the latest clothes, to bear him sons was of course a plus, daughters not so much, he probably already had a family anyway. I was singing loudly with the Cab man too, I did not believe my good fortune was going to find me if I sat waiting patiently but I sang because his optimism reminded me of home.


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