I remember coming to Lagos for the first time. I had left Auchi not knowing what to expect when I got to my uncle’s house in Lagos. He had offered to take me in and take care of my schooling after my mum passed away. He was her only brother and she used to talk about him a lot.
I alighted at the bus park and I was almost dizzy from the frenzied activities that were going on around me. Hawkers shouting at the top of their voices promoting their wares. A woman was holding a conductor’s shirt and threatening to tear it if he didn’t give up her ‘change’. A conductor was hanging from a bus and screaming “Hold your change ooo. Ko si change ooo”. Another one was screaming “Oshodi Oke, Oshodi Oke”.
All of a sudden I saw three able bodied men with blood shot eyes, waylay one of the yellow buses. One climbed the back of the bus, the other one was arguing with the driver and broke off the front wiper when it seemed like the conversation wasn’t going the way he wanted it to. The third man was engaged in a fist fight with the conductor who had long jumped down from the bus. I was amazed at how the passengers in the bus sat down calmly and didn’t make any attempt to get down from the bus or intervene in the on-going scuffle.
I gathered my thoughts together and searched for a friendly face to ask for directions to ‘Ikeja under bridge’ as my uncle’s wife had mentioned earlier that morning on the phone, when she was giving me directions to their house.
I had just sat down in the bus when a stench hit me. “What is that smell?” I asked the lady beside me. She responded “Ah, there’s a woman at the back who has a basket of fish with her”. I held my handkerchief to my nose, ready to endure the stench till I got to my destination, when a fat man with a pot belly the size of a 6 month old pregnancy entered the bus and sat down beside me. He was sweating profusely. I kept moving towards the lady on my left to avoid the sweat rubbing on my body, but to no avail.
Midway into the journey, a man in front of me stood up and started advertising a ‘one solution’ medicine to all problems. According to him, the small bottle of unknown liquid content he was holding could cure barrenness, hypertension, impotency, pneumonia, high blood pressure, epilepsy amongst a long list of ailments he kept mentioning.
Finally, I heard the conductor shout ‘Ikeja under bridge’. I had barely gotten down from the bus when the bus started moving. I started running after the bus and shouting at the conductor to hand me my suitcase which was still in the bus. He threw my suitcase out of the bus and the contents spilled all over the side of the muddy road. As I packed my stained belongings back into my now muddy suitcase, I looked up and saw a man staring at me with a smile on his face as he said ‘Welcome to Lagos’.
Sylvester!!!!! I heard my uncle’s wife calling me. I had been so lost in my thoughts that I didn’t hear her the first time. “Are you less busy?” “Please help me wash your uncle’s clothes”, she said as she handed me the clothes and a pack of Omo detergent.
As I poured the white Omo detergent powder into the water, I remembered how it saved my clothes from the muddy stains on my 1st day in Lagos. I remember that I didn’t have to soak for too long or scrub too hard before all the stains came out. It also reminded me of when my mum started teaching me how to wash my clothes. I would wait for her to pour the Omo detergent into the water (back then it was blue in colour) and I would squish the detergent inside the water and be amazed at how much foam that would form. It’s interesting how this Omo detergent has remained all these years and is still my number one choice for removing stains from my clothes, especially now that the detergent powder is white in colour. This Omo detergent has come a long way just like me, since my first day in Lagos.