Tracy Nnanwubar

Have you ever tried to paint your nails in a moving vehicle in Lagos? I’m sure you know how frustrating it can get if that vehicle is actually a rickety yellow cab with no air conditioning, floor caked with brown dust from outside and all the winders for the windows gone. While sitting behind, the driver has stopped paying any attention to your hisses, your ‘oooohs’ and your ‘aaaahs’. As he is driving, you are clutching the bottle of nail polish with both your thighs, and holding the brush with your right hand. If you are lucky you would be wearing a trouser to work on that day, preferably jeans since the fabric would have a stronger hold on the bottle when the road gets tough. However, if you are one of the unlucky female commuters painting her nails on Lagos roads as you try to rush to work, you would be wearing a skirt on that day and your thighs won’t be able to clutch the bottle. The bottle would slip away from your sweaty thighs as Lagos is hot in the mornings too, and it would spill to the floor splashing all its contents on your feet.

You’d have to hold yourself from cursing the nonchalant driver who is maneuvering the traffic, turning the steering in whatever way he chooses to boycott the long road queue arising from the annoying pot holes that keep you jumping in your seat. Sometimes, he drives so fast and then comes to an abrupt stop because he didn’t pay any attention to a speed bump or even a traffic light. Often times he speeds past the cracks in the road and even the oasis of water gathering in the pot holes when the rain falls. At such times, the water goes right unto your face, even in your hair, but he is busy quarrelling with the danfo driver who is chooking his head in front of your vehicle so how can the driver have time to see that his road recklessness is making you get to work dirty and smelly?

You’re still holding your bottle of nail polish

O! You try not being angry and salvaging whatever is left of the liquid. You don’t have a nail polish remover or cotton wool so you psyche yourself to forget about the red stains on your palm. You continue to paint using your right hand to paint your left hand. When painting the little finger the car starts to jerk, by the time you get to your middle finger, the breeze from the racing vehicle combined with the heat from the abrupt stop by the LASTMA official, completely destabilizes you. You try to continue with your index finger but the swift turns by the driver and the careless punching of the breaks at the slightest opportunity when he gets really close to another bumper, makes you paint parts of your finger as well as your nail. You stop, and then look up at him and out of the window. You wait for a while and then, just when you think there are no more pot holes on Ikorodu road, you pick your brush and try to paint your thumb. But there is a pot hole, in fact plenty! You raise your right bum, press your back to the seat, hold your head a little lower and squeeze your legs tight with the bottle so that it doesn’t spill again. You wish that he would give you a warning when he approached a road bend, speed bump or even a pot hole but he doesn’t. Then you start to blame the government. Small time you will start blaming Fashola; but after a while, you just console yourself with the fact that it would be better if you were seating in a Prado Jeep. But is it really different painting your nails while commuting on Lagos roads in a Prado Jeep?


One thought on “Flash Fiction – Red Roads and Lagos

  1. Pingback: Flash Fiction – White Kenya, Black Kenya « SolQu Shorts

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