BRT Chronicles

Sister, I have your size o, original wristwatch -Gucci and Gabbana- Issa G and G something

Buy your cold pure water here Ojuelegba, enter with your change o

Uncle, please help me. All I need is only 5000 naira to buy drugs for my sister’s younger brother in general hospital, they say he has a fractured kidney due to diabetes and hepatitis

There’s nothing I won’t hear at this BRT bus stop here in Ikorodu. Different drama everywhere. For those who don’t know, BRT is Bus rapid transport (or Babatunde Raji Transport), a government-owned, subsidized transport system in Lagos State. This was my regular bus stop every morning, five days a week, five years through Medical School.

I’m a graduate now and I must confess, I miss those bus stop memories, honestly. The comic relief, the insane comments that just made you know that humans are awesome and the somewhere in-betweens that just makes you think about how life is so unfair and no one could actually be blamed for anything wrong about life. In short, the BRT bus stop saved me from depression at a point in time in my life. But that’s a story for another day.

Today, I’d tell you about the Mouthy Pepper Seller.

Iya Alata, as she is fondly called, was a tall, slim lady who sold pepper at the junction adjoining the BRT bus stop. But her words at that junction made an impact that exceeded the length of her tiny kiosk. A look at her and you could tell she was a product of the bleaching cremes sold in the late ’90s. Those ones that left your fingers looking like roasted plantain.

She always seemed to have change and was a good helper to those who had been joined by notorious Lagos bus conductors. I once found myself in a bit of a pickle, having been joined with another passenger, Mr. Segun, by our bus conductor. We both approached Iya Alata, begging her to help us convert 500 naira into smaller currencies of 200 & 100 naira notes. That day, I learned that her niceness came with some spice.

She started off by asking why the “brother” was staring at my backside. I hadn’t even noticed him all the while. I couldn’t hide my laughter

Uncle, shey you never see fine girl before ni? Abi shey because conductor don join you with this girl, you think say you don see wife? Bros, better pack yourself well o

The embarrassed bros gently excused himself, making sure to use his leather back to cover the front of his trousers. He didn’t even wait to collect his change! A whole 400naira. I kuku used the money to buy data subscription for the week.

This life ehn. Since that day, Iya Alata became my hype-woman. “Hot Sister” “Fine girl no pimples” “Unilag Freshest” and other names she called me each time I passed by the junction. Soon, even the BRT conductor knew me by the name “Unilag freshest”

It seemed like a name I didn’t like, initially. But then I got used to it. It was better than the name Mr. Segun got. “Tiger Wood”. I’d leave you to figure how Iya Alata arrived at that name. Don’t ask me to explain.

By the time I graduated from Unilag, Iya Alata had moved base. Her diligence at Ikorodu junction paid off in the end. She now sells pepper wholesale at Mile 12 market. I definitely miss her spicy mouth!

More characters to come on my BRT bus chronicles


A Medilag Graduate Physiotherapist

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