On My Guard


Brenda Wussum




 


Copyright 2019 by Brenda Wussum


Photo of Brenda.

This is story about a friend who was almost kidnapped and my own fears about night buses.

go to fix my hair and it takes a while. Braids usually take long hours and I am at the salon a little after midday. I hadn't envisioned that the style of braids I had decided on would take longer than usual and I would be out late, again.

It is past 9:00pm. The hairdresser is finished with me and the market has closed a few hours earlier. To make sure I did not have to leave home the next day, change buses twice and travel across the bridge to this side of town again, I had insisted, even pleaded we finished up that night. Talk about customer satisfaction! She gave in to my demand and led me to a roadside shop outside the market to finish the braids.

I walk to the bus stop, remembering the night I had been here at almost the same hour and had only been lucky to get a bus to ferry me across the bridge linking North bank to the rest of the town.

A bus stops in front of me and the bus conductor asks if I am headed across the bridge. I jump in, afraid other passengers may take all the seats before me, afraid I may get stranded away from home; anxious about having to find shelter for the night should I be unable to get a bus bound for the other side.

I act all confident and unperturbed, but I'm a bit alarmed at the fact that all occupants are boys. I'm unable to see their faces, to access them- to see if they look rough and likely to cause me harm. Only occasional light from other vehicles flashes into the bus from time to time, otherwise it's dark.

I take a back seat so I have a chance to look at all of them, to watch out for suspicious activity.

I have heard stories of people being kidnapped, girls raped in buses like this and I'm on my guard. I tell myself I could just as well jump out of the moving bus like a classmate had done years back if necessary. Yet, I dread such a moment and silently praying it never gets to that.

I remember walking up the veranda to mount the stairs leading to my classroom when I met Jennifer descending the stairs. On her left knee was a large bright pink scar, at the center of which was a wound still in the healing process. The right knee had fared better with just a pink scar. Same could be said for both elbows; the right faring worse than the left with fresh dressing as opposed small scattered scars on the left.

I laughed when she told an inquisitive classmate that she had jumped out of a moving bus. Only in the movies did I ever see characters jump out of moving cars, moving trains, moving airplanes, anything moving. And up until then, I had only heard stories of people, people far away, who jumped out of moving vehicles to save themselves being kidnapped; I never thought of it happening to someone close.

"Jackie Chan, " I said to her.

"No, I'm serious."

The look on her face was convincing enough and we gathered around her to hear her adventure.

Her destination had been a quiet part of town, away from the busy town centre. The road was a quiet one and not a human was in sight when the bus got there. She had been the only female in the bus, the rest being boys.

"Dropping," she said out loud as was the way to signal to the way to signal to the driver she had reached her destination.

Nothing.

"Driver, stop," she yelled again.

The bus sped on, everyone else in the bus acted unconcerned, as though she had not just asked the driver to stop. No one seemed to have heard. It seemed like she was a lunatic screaming in the street with everyone going past her; occasional stares, no one paying attention.

"I was beside the window and trust me, no time to waste time. I just jumped out before they realized, " I remember her say.

The bus had sped away leaving her behind. A kind motorist passing by a few minutes later had taken her to a hospital to treat her wounds.

Remembering Jennifer's bruises, I knew jumping out of a moving bus was no fun and hoped it didn't have to come to that for me.

I have heard of people who never were seen again after boarding a bus, of those who were kidnapped like that, but who by a miracle escaped. Then there are those who get disposed of their valuables and get thrown out of such buses, not to mention the countless number of defenseless females raped; some killed even, in such situations.

The first night I could scarcely find a bus to take me across the bridge, a taxi had stopped in front of me and the driver asked my destination.

"SRS," I said.

"Get in."

I estimated him to be about thirty five years of age. I couldn't see him in the dark and couldn't say any other thing about him. The only thing I thought about was being vulnerable in that situation. A young female, alone; I didn't look like I could do much in terms of self-defense.

There was a young man standing a few metres from me. I had no idea of where he was headed exactly, but only knew that waiting here for a bus meant he intended to go across the bridge. I asked him to get in.

Through out the 15 minutes' drive, the driver said nothing to me although I tried a few times to make little conversation with him. Some how, I think he was not happy I had asked someone else to join us.

When a short argument ensured between him and "my guest," I simply paid my fare and moved away to give them room to sort out their issues. The driver was mad "my guest" had to be driven to another stop which he claimed he had no intention of going to that night. Gladly, I had arrived my destination and was safe. The rest of it was his problem to deal with.

The guys in this bus were making little conversation with me, but only when I got out of that bus did I really feel safe. That day, I told myself that if I was ever out, any unfinished business after 7:00 pm would be unfinished till the following day, regardless of the expense and inconvenience of traveling back and forth.

Brenda was born and raised in Nigeria. She has had a passion for writing since she was a little girl, writing her own baby stories. She studied microbiology at the University but her first love for books still remains. She is currently undergoing her one year of national service.


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